A new push for a nationwide cell phone directory

A Web startup is working to build a national directory of cell phone numbers, rekindling a years-long debate about the creation of an index of American's mobile phone numbers.

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based, privately held startup, Phonebooks.com, announced today it added 2.4 million cell phone numbers to its database. A Phonebooks.com spokesman, Jonathan Hosier, said the company obtained the numbers from both third-party data providers (which derive information from property records, contests and subscriptions) and user submissions. The company obtains maps, employment information and pictures from the Internet and social media sites.

Phonebooks.com operates as a kind of wiki, allowing users to add information themselves. Users can opt-out of the directory by filing a request.

A cursory test of the site's mobile phone number directory did not return any matches.

Nonetheless, the news again raises the possibility of adding wireless numbers to phone books comprised largely of wired numbers. Indeed, the cell phone industry and trade group CTIA in 2004 began a push the creation of a national directory of mobile phone numbers, but quickly backed down following criticism from privacy advocates. The issue has risen to the fore several times since then, though no movement has been made on a national level.  A CTIA spokesperson said the trade group currently is not pursuing a cell phone directory.

In the company's announcement, Phonebooks.com President Aaron Rosenthal noted the growing number of cell phone-only households as a reason to build a nationwide directory of mobile phone numbers. The company cited recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, which show the percent of households relying solely on cell phones blossoming from 3 percent in 2003 to fully 20 percent in 2008.

For more:
- see this Phonebooks.com release

Related Article:
Verizon Wireless: Directory still "dumb idea"

Article updated Sept. 23 with clarification from Phonebooks.com on the source of their cell phone numbers.