Most people have experienced the frustration of trying to look up cell phone number information for one of their friends or colleagues.
While significant, free directories exist for most traditional landline phone numbers, cell phone numbers are not available through the usual 411 directory information service and are far more challenging to locate.
There are some reasons for this difficulty; perhaps the most important has to do with the type of service cell phone providers offer their customers.
Because most cell phone users pay for the minutes used on each incoming call they receive, there is a strong financial motivation to keep their cell phone numbers confidential; in fact, the FCC prohibits most telemarketing calls to cell phones.
A centralized 411 service for cell phones is planned but has not yet been established.
Initiated in 2006 as a joint effort between Cingular, T-Mobile, Sprint PCS, Nextel, Alltel, and AT&T Wireless, the Wireless 411 service will not be made available online but must be accessed through the traditional 411 directory information number.
The service, when available, will not be a complete listing of cell phone numbers; it will provide numbers only for the customers of those wireless service providers who have chosen to opt into the service.
When and if the service is finally implemented, it is expected to provide only minimal utility in most cases.
For those wishing to look up cell phone number information online, there are only a few options available.
Some online services claim to offer full cell phone number information, either through a reverse lookup or a traditional search; while some are free of charge, most require payment in advance.
The cell phone results provided by these services are relatively incomplete; it is advisable to select a service that only charges a fee if it can provide the cell phone number.
The last alternative is to do a general search on Google or another search engine for the information you need.
Because internet directories, blogs, and personal websites sometimes include contact information, it is sometimes possible to locate the desired cell phone number information through such sites.
Regardless of which method is chosen, there is still no completely reliable way to look up cell phone number information at this time.