How to Identify the Cell Phone Carrier From a Phone Number

by Adrian Grahams
Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Carrier networks buy blocks of numbers assigned by the North American Numbering Plan administration that they allocate to customers who sign up for cell phone service or a SIM-only deal. The cell phone number is programmed into the SIM card that slots into the phone, so the cell number is unique to the SIM card rather than the actual phone handset. Most people don't need to know the network behind a cell number, but this information can be useful if you want to complain to the carrier about spam texts or abusive messages that you've received from a specific number. You can use a free or premium reverse phone directory service to find the carrier network to which a certain phone number is assigned.

Step 1

Write down the 10-digit cell number you want to check for easy reference. Double-check that you've copied it correctly.

Step 2

Launch your Web browser and go to your preferred reverse phone directory service. The Free Rev Cell and Fone Finder online services offer free cell phone number lookups, while the Reverse Phone Directory service charges for information on some numbers.

Step 3

Type or paste the cell number in the input field on the site's homepage. On some services, you will need to remove the "-" dash between each group of digits in the number and type the complete number into the field, while on others you can include the dashes if you wish or type each group of digits in the three separate input boxes.

Step 4

Click the "Cellphone Info," "Search by Number" or "Lookup" button. The descriptor varies by site, but if you see more than one search option button, always select the cell option.

Step 5

Wait a few seconds for the service to retrieve the results.

Copy the network provider information in the "Carrier" or "Telephone Company" box on the results page. The provider's name might be linked to its website, so you can click the link if you want to contact the provider directly.


  • Although some reverse directory services may offer international number lookups, most only offer this service for numbers in the U.S. and Canada.
  • You can also report abusive or spam text messages or phone calls to your own wireless provider. Check the provider's website or call the customer service number to complain.

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