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#1
Old 01-21-2010, 06:05 AM
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"You must first dial a 1..." or "It is not necessary to dial a 1..."

When I dial a number that requires a 1 in front of it, I'll get an automated recording telling me which means I have to dial again.

When I dial a 1 first and it isn't necessary, I'll get an automated recording telling me which means that I have to dial again.

Since the phone company knows that a 1 is or isn't needed why doesn't it just add or subtract the 1 and put the call through?
#2
Old 01-21-2010, 06:34 AM
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Excellent question! Connecticut is adding area codes, so now we must dial our area code for all calls, including our next door neighbor. However, only some calls require the 1 first, depending on the distance. There are instances when the same area code may or may not require the 1. I get the same blasted recordings.

And wonder the question...
#3
Old 01-21-2010, 08:32 AM
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The call is being place as you dial it. The computer collecting the digits does not store all the digits and then make the call. So the computer does not know what you are dialing until you complete it. That is why, in some areas, you will get a recording before you complete dialing.

Last edited by CT_Damsel; 01-21-2010 at 08:33 AM. Reason: spelling
#4
Old 01-21-2010, 08:38 AM
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I'm pretty sure dialing 1 is required on land lines that charge long distance fees. It's a way of letting the customer know he's being charged. You can talk to Aunt Sally for an hour locally for free. You'd be in for a nasty shock if it turned out the call was long distance. Dialing 1 is the only warning you get.

Cell Phones turned everything upside down. I can call my neighbor next door and still get charged for every second we talk.
#5
Old 01-21-2010, 08:40 AM
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The Master Speaks (albeit 15 years ago, but it still seems applicable.)
#6
Old 01-21-2010, 11:43 AM
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Welcome to the hell that is 'mandatory toll alerting'. But first, a little background.

In North America, there ae two main ways to dial calls, depending on the location.

In one way, 1 means 'area code follows'. Whenever you dial an area code, you must dial a 1 in front, no matter the type of call.

In the other way, 1 means 'toll call follows'. You only dialed a 1 if you were making a call where you would be paying by the minute. This was importaint in places such as Ontario, where there's a sharp difference between local calks, which were unmetered, and long-distance calls, which attracted a per-minute charge.

Mandatory toll alerting was put in place in areas that use the second method of dialing so that people wouldn't accidentally dial a toll call and not realize it. You have to dial the one explicitly.

However, they were too strict in my opinion. To me, dialing a 1 means 'I am willing to pay a toll'. If it's a local call, it's cheaper and I win! But they do not allow me to dial 1 on local calls.

Last edited by Sunspace; 01-21-2010 at 11:46 AM.
#7
Old 01-21-2010, 11:53 AM
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Interesting, I use Vonage for local and long distance phone service and do not have to add the area code for numbers in my own area code, and do not have to dial a 1 for long distance. Both those things are required by the local phone company.
#8
Old 01-21-2010, 12:01 PM
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Former Network Ops Center tech reporting in:

The phone switch has translation tables that determine how to route (and charge) your call based your phone number and on the digits you dial. When you dial a "1", the software waits for the next digits to figure out what to do next, depending on the next digit or combination of digits.

When area codes are added and/or split, sometimes the translation tables are not all updated correctly, and you'll be routed a recording by mistake. The problem could be with your local switch, the end office where the other number is, or even the tandem offices in between.

The translation changes were automated to a high degree years ago. On cutover days we used to keep an eye out for "routing error" messages from the switches. Sometimes we could catch translation errors before they impacted service too badly. Other times we wouldn't find out about problems until we started getting customer complaints.
#9
Old 01-21-2010, 12:06 PM
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Our area code was recently split, and as a result we now have to dial 10 digits (area code + number) for all calls, whether they are local or not. Many people naturally assumed that dialing the area code required a 1 in front of the number, and (depending on their provider) found themselves being charged long distance rates for local calls, just because they dialed 1 in front of the 10 digits.

I know this happened to our company, because we got a company-wide email about it.
#10
Old 01-21-2010, 12:10 PM
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Well, yes, the situation I described was the 'traditional phone company' viewpoint. Several things have worked to obscure this.

There has been the rise of services that do not distinguish between local and toll calls. These include VOIP services that make all calls a flat rate, and cellular services that decode their own dialling, so to speak, and let you dial without the 1 (or for that natter with it) all the time.

Another thing that has changed since Cecil's report is the rise of ten-digit dialling. In many areas, you must dial the area code with all calls. In '1 means area code follows' areas, this means that you dial 1 on all calls.

However, in '1 means toll call follows' areas, you still have to know whether to dial the 1 or not on every traditional call. Now, the only difference is the 1. This is why it's even more important to let us dial the 1 on all calls.
#11
Old 01-21-2010, 12:15 PM
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Missed the edit window....

Businesses with on-site PBX equipment can be impacted by area code changes if their vendor doesn't update the PBX software. Telcos send out notices to (supposedly) everyone effected, but someone always gets missed. (Or, just as likely, the customer neglects to contact their PBX provider.)

Last edited by blondebear; 01-21-2010 at 12:17 PM.
#12
Old 01-21-2010, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
(depending on their provider) found themselves being charged long distance rates for local calls, just because they dialed 1 in front of the 10 digits.
That happened to my mom with her first pc. I setup her dial-up internet service and somehow set it to dial 1 and the area code. Next month she got a bill for several hundred bucks. It took several calls to customer service to get the charges removed. I changed the modem dial up settings and all was well.
#13
Old 01-21-2010, 12:36 PM
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And just to make things interesting, in large cities you'll often have de facto ten-digit dialing regardless of how many area codes are in your state/province. I'm inside the Beltway, and I have an actual honest-to-Ford DC area code on my phone - but that's relatively rare. I know very few people in the area, who're under thirty and have DC area codes - most just use their cell phones, and kept the numbers from their home states.
#14
Old 01-21-2010, 12:37 PM
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I miss when I was young in the 70s and 80s; we could call our neighbors with only 5 digits. Our exchange was 384 and we could call other phones in that exchange by dialing 4-xxxx.
#15
Old 01-21-2010, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skammer View Post
I miss when I was young in the 70s and 80s; we could call our neighbors with only 5 digits. Our exchange was 384 and we could call other phones in that exchange by dialing 4-xxxx.
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
#16
Old 01-21-2010, 12:56 PM
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Dunno how if this adds anything or not but, oddly, long distance calls are cheaper than local calls.

I used to do least-cost-routing for companies and, literally, it was cheaper for a company to send a fax from a Chicago suburb to a computer in their Dayton, Ohio office and then have that office call back to downtown Chicago.

Notice how most cell phone plans tout free long distance calls. Well, it is cheaper for them for you to call LA from Chicago than to call a local Chicago phone number (barring super-short distance calls). This is because long distance markets are unregulated and have a lot of competition. Local markets tend to be monopolies with no competition so pretty much screw you.

Seemed to me my cell phone (or cell company) seemed to figure out I had an XXX area code and dialing another number without that area code meant a local call. Just recently they are forcing me to use 1+10 digits for all calls no matter where it is.
#17
Old 01-21-2010, 01:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
We could do it in Northfield, Minnesota in the early 70's, too. (645 numbers would just be "5-xxxx").
#18
Old 01-21-2010, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalenin View Post
Interesting, I use Vonage for local and long distance phone service and do not have to add the area code for numbers in my own area code, and do not have to dial a 1 for long distance. Both those things are required by the local phone company.
Right. That's because Vonage makes no distinction at all between local and long distance calls. It costs exactly the same to call your next-door neighbor as it does to call someone on the other side of the country.

Also, because Vonage is VOIP, not the phone company, every call you make to a regular phone has to move from "internet space" to normal telephone lines at some stage along the way, so every call gets treated the same.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeWinder View Post
We could do it in Northfield, Minnesota in the early 70's, too. (645 numbers would just be "5-xxxx").
I was at high school (in Australia) in the mid-1980s (!!!) with a guy who came from a small country town about 250 miles west of Sydney.

His town, which only had about 200 people, was still on a manual exchange, and his telephone was one of those things with a crank handle on the front that you had to turn, and that would connect you with the operator. You would then tell the operator what number you wanted, and she would connect you. If you wanted someone else in the town, the number was usually only two digits, so you would just say to the operator "4-6 please" and you would get connected to my friend's house.

The best thing about this, for him, was that he knew all the operators at the exchange, and they would often let him call home free from our boarding school. At the time, long-distance phone calls in Australia were pretty expensive, so this was not a trivial thing. He would just call the exchange, and they would put him through without charging.

The town went to an automated exchange, with regular phones and normal dialing, a few years later.

Last edited by mhendo; 01-21-2010 at 01:30 PM.
#19
Old 01-21-2010, 02:34 PM
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A "1" doesn't necessarily mean a toll call. In area codes with overlays you have to dial 1+10 digits. The reason for this is the FCC (and courts) rules that one company can't have an advantage over another company.

So if I live in Chicago and I get a 773 number, if Acme Telephone Company starts up and all it can get is blocks of Chicago's new area code 872 it's at a disadvantage. So you have to either split the area code up geographically or allow mandatory 1+10 digit dialing.

I can be 773 and my neighbor next door is 872 and it'll be local though I have to dial 11 numbers, simply because of the equality rule
#20
Old 01-21-2010, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
A "1" doesn't necessarily mean a toll call...

I can be 773 and my neighbor next door is 872 and it'll be local though I have to dial 11 numbers, simply because of the equality rule
I'm in Toronto; we have four area codes within local calling range and multiple overlays and ten-digit dialling and I dial ten digits for local and 1+ten digits for long-distance. We use the second style of dialling I mentioned upthread; you guys evidently use the first.
#21
Old 01-21-2010, 04:34 PM
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Wow, a lot of great answers; thanks. I guess I should have mentioned that I was talking strictly land-lines and that I live in Oregon where you have to dial the area code for all numbers, and that dialing a 1 is for long distance.
#22
Old 01-21-2010, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
I lived in Ohio in the early 70's and we could do this. We had a party line that served four houses, and you had to listen for "your ring" to know that the call was for your house. It was a trip.
#23
Old 01-21-2010, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Excellent View Post
And just to make things interesting, in large cities you'll often have de facto ten-digit dialing regardless of how many area codes are in your state/province. I'm inside the Beltway, and I have an actual honest-to-Ford DC area code on my phone - but that's relatively rare. I know very few people in the area, who're under thirty and have DC area codes - most just use their cell phones, and kept the numbers from their home states.
Same situation here in Hotlanta. We have a bunch of area codes, then you have all the transplants who kept their home state phone numbers. You can't assume where anyone is located by looking at their area code anymore. My home phone and cell both have different area codes, and that sometimes confuses people from less populated areas who haven't had to deal with this problem of running out of numbers yet. We too have to dial the full 10 digits, no matter if we call next door of to another state.
#24
Old 01-21-2010, 05:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
In the 90s the UW-Madison phone system was still set up like that. If you lived in the dorms, you could call another on-campus phone number (26x-xxxx) by just dialing x-xxxx.

I think I read recently that they didn't even bother wiring the newest dorms they built with POTS wiring. /Shaking fist at the kids these days with their iTwitters.
#25
Old 01-21-2010, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
All phone numbers in Iqaluit were the same prefix (979) until the mid '90s (or so I hear). You could dial anyone in town by just dialling the last 4 digits. Now, we also have 975- numbers. People still tell others their phone numbers using just the last 4 digits; if they only give you 4 digits, the 979 is implicit. 975 people give their numbers as "5-1234"
#26
Old 01-21-2010, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
In the 90s the UW-Madison phone system was still set up like that. If you lived in the dorms, you could call another on-campus phone number (26x-xxxx) by just dialing x-xxxx.
It was the same at my school, but isn't that more like an internal phone system, where you can just dial extensions? Didn't you have to dial "9" to get an outside line?
#27
Old 01-21-2010, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
It was the same at my school, but isn't that more like an internal phone system, where you can just dial extensions? Didn't you have to dial "9" to get an outside line?
I don't remember doing that to order pizza or call friends who lived off campus, but perhaps it was just like a gigantic PBX...

I do remember when dialing long distance we had a choice of prefixes that affected how the call was billed to us...I remember dialing 8+number billed it via the University's long distance account which was cheaper than the standard long distance service we could set up with AT&T or Sprint or whatever.
#28
Old 01-21-2010, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
When I dial a number that requires a 1 in front of it, I'll get an automated recording telling me which means I have to dial again.

When I dial a 1 first and it isn't necessary, I'll get an automated recording telling me which means that I have to dial again.

Since the phone company knows that a 1 is or isn't needed why doesn't it just add or subtract the 1 and put the call through?
There is no regulatory requirement for the 1 for "toll calls" It all comes down to how did the phone company program its switch. Why? Dog knows ... phone stuff is full of stupid.

I've been working on building a switch, so I've been looking into just such things.

If you do not require a 1 .. and you dont add the 1 .. and you send you call to another phone switch and/or company that requires the 1 .. your call will then fail. This is the 2nd most common case.

If you require a 1 and you send the call to another phone switch and/or company that requires there not be a 1 ... your call will then fail. This case is not common.

The most common case is the phone switch receiving the call doesn't care 1 or not.

The best way to program a phone switch is to just add the one if it wasn't dialed and it needs to be shipped off to somewhere else. Also program the switch to take incoming calls with or without the 1. Phone company's change slowly.

And just wait until you find out "international call blocking" doesn't block calls to Canada, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, ect, ect.

Meflin

I've got to get back to some nice simple Internet Routing

Last edited by meflin; 01-21-2010 at 07:51 PM.
#29
Old 01-21-2010, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by meflin View Post
And just wait until you find out "international call blocking" doesn't block calls to Canada, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, ect, ect.
Well, no, those countries are all in the North American Numbering Plan. You'd have to block according to area code. It's really '011/01' call blocking; it blocks calls to numbers outside the NANP.

Last edited by Sunspace; 01-21-2010 at 07:55 PM.
#30
Old 01-21-2010, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
Well, no, those countries are all in the North American Numbering Plan. You'd have to block according to area code. It's really '011/01' call blocking; it blocks calls to numbers outside the NANP.

Exactly .. international calling that is still NANP isn't blocked. For the average consumer "international call blocking" they would expect .. it to be well blocking international calls, but its not. How many people know this who don't have hands on with phone stuff? Phone stuff is werid for end users.

Meflin
#31
Old 01-21-2010, 08:16 PM
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How hard would it be to say, "Block all 011 calls, and all calls to <list of area codes of other countries in the NANP>"?
#32
Old 01-21-2010, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Where did you live? By 1970 I was 13 and I've never heard of anyplace where you could do that.
Let's see... I remember when our local exchange went digital and we could no longer dial within-exchange calls with 4 digits only. That would have been... about 1991. (Vermont)

Last edited by BrotherCadfael; 01-21-2010 at 08:24 PM. Reason: Added state when I realized that my location no longer shows because I've gone guest.
#33
Old 01-21-2010, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspace View Post
How hard would it be to say, "Block all 011 calls, and all calls to <list of area codes of other countries in the NANP>"?
Not hard at all, with the equipment I am working with. With say a Nortel/Lucent/ect Class-5 .. I have no real idea. The "hard" work is keeping up on the NANP assignment list of area codes, and they have an email notification list so its not that hard. My Lucent Class-4 .. is dumb as rocks .. so dumb it cant do per-user call blocking of any kind, I'm using other junk for features like this, I can do database loockups for such things.

Ye Local ILEC offeres "international call blocking" if you read the online doc's they only mention Bermuda as an example of this effect of actually being a 011 block.

Meflin

Nice to see someone who knows what NAMP is!

Last edited by meflin; 01-21-2010 at 08:29 PM.
#34
Old 01-21-2010, 08:30 PM
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We studied all this when I was in electronics school (early eighties), and I've kept up on it a little. Mostly because of all the new area codes.
#35
Old 01-21-2010, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
I don't remember doing that to order pizza or call friends who lived off campus, but perhaps it was just like a gigantic PBX...
It seems like it would have to be, no? How else would the system distinguish the last five digits of an internal number from the beginning five digits of a 7-digit external number? (in other words, if the number is 332-4567, and you dial 2-4567, how does the system know you're not really dialling 245-67xx and just waiting to remember those last two digits?)
#36
Old 01-22-2010, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
It seems like it would have to be, no? How else would the system distinguish the last five digits of an internal number from the beginning five digits of a 7-digit external number? (in other words, if the number is 332-4567, and you dial 2-4567, how does the system know you're not really dialling 245-67xx and just waiting to remember those last two digits?)
I believe you can hit number sign (#) after dialling to signal that you're done, but that may not be supported everywhere.
#37
Old 01-22-2010, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
It was the same at my school, but isn't that more like an internal phone system, where you can just dial extensions? Didn't you have to dial "9" to get an outside line?
The University of Minnesota was (and likely still is) like this. Five-digit dialing on campus, but dial 9 (or was it 8?) for an outside line to call off-campus.

My hometown of Manhattan, MT had five-digit dialing within the exchange (284) until at least 1990, which is when my family moved away.

When I was a telephone operator, customers would often call with problems getting a certain number through. When they would dial the 1, the voice would say "It is not necessary to dial a 1", and when they would leave the 1 off, the voice would say, "You must first dial a 1 before calling this number." Very frustrating, but we were generally able to get the call through for them.
#38
Old 01-22-2010, 11:26 PM
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Back when I was a student at UC Berkeley in 1989, I accidentally discovered that the university phone system did not bill you for long-distance if you didn't dial a '1' before dialing the long-distance number.
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