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Toll-Free Telephone Number

Toll-Free Telephone Number

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Published by Salman Alfarisi
Toll-Free Telephone Number
Toll-Free Telephone Number

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Published by: Salman Alfarisi on May 08, 2013
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11/08/2014

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Toll-free telephone number
A
toll-free
,
Freecall
,
,
800
,
0800
or 
1-800
number is a special telephone number which is free for the calling party, and instead thetelephone carrier charges the called party for the cost of the call. A toll-free number is assigned from a special dialing prefix range (also known as areacode) such as 1-800, although the specific numbers can vary by country.The price of thecall to the called party is usually based on factors such as the amount of usage the number experiences, the cost of the trunk lines to thefacility, and possibly a monthly flat rate service charge.Use of a toll-freenumber often allows for capture of telephone num bers of incoming calls. In the United States, for example, toll free numbers usuallycapture the telephone number of the caller through automatic number identification, which is independent of caller ID data and captures caller informationeven if caller ID is blocked.
[1]
Contents
1 History2 Growth of 800 toll-free numbers as a business tool3 Toll-free vanity number for branding & direct response4 North America4.1 How toll-free calls are handled by operators4.2 Technical description of toll-free number routing in the U.S.5 China5.1 800 toll-free numbers5.2 400 toll-free numbers5.3 Differences between 800 and 400 numbers in China6 Australia6.1 Toll-Free (usually referred to as Free Call or Free Phone)6.2 Local Rate numbers6.3 Mobile phones7 United Kingdom8 Universal International Freephone numbers9 Freephone around the world
 
10 See also11 References
History
'Freephone' services appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, with the Post Office introducing such a facility in 1960.
[2]
A toll-free service wasoriginated in the United States on May 2, 1967, by AT&T
[
citation needed 
]
as an alternative to collect calling and to reduce the need for operators. AT&Treferred to the service as IN-WATS, or Inward Wide-Area Telephone Service (see WATS lines).
[
citation needed 
]
The first company to use toll-freelines hosted numbers for major companies. Americana Hotels, Budget Rent a Car, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Rodeway Inns, Sheraton Hotels, andQuality Inn were a few of the major companies hosted. They grew very quickly but still went out of business. When this happened, all the major playersreacted by leasing space in and behind that original call center location (93rd and Bedford in Omaha, Nebraska) in strip malls
[
citation needed 
]
so theycould continue to answer their toll-free calls and also rehire the already-trained staffing and management. Northwestern Bell and AT&T dedicated staff tothe 'Res City' area and their staff actually had offices located in the same strip malls
[
citation needed 
]
to help make the transition and service the accountsgoing forward. That corner of 93rd and Bedford became known as 'Res City' because of all the call centers taking reservations there.As the call centers continued to compete for the same talent pool, the larger chains relocated into buildings specifically built for them near the area whileothers moved outside of the state to avoid the direct competition for staffing. Northwestern Bell and AT&T continued to cater to the businesses in Omaha and would activate service within 24 hours for clients in Omaha, givingOmaha a major advantage over other locations that would have to wait weeks for service. In 1983, Northwestern Bell and AT&T in conjunction withTelesystems and First Data Resources/WATS Marketing, developed a method to use Direct Inward Dialing (DID) to handle traffic so call centers nolonger had to have dedicated lines or trunk groups as they are called, to handle each telephone number. This was a major improvement in call center callflow design and this type of called number identification is still used by call centers today.Roy P. Weber from Bridgewater, New Jersey, was the inventor of the second-generation 800 toll-free number system in 1978. Weber's U.S. Patent No. 4,191,860 was filed July 13, 1978, and issued March 4, 1980, and assigned to AT&T. AT&T started to use this new technology from the Weber  patent in 1982. Weber's invention was called 'Data Base Communication Call Processing Method' ... more commonly called today a 'Toll-Free Call' or '800 Call'.
[3]
Growth of 800 toll-free numbers as a business tool
 
From 1967 until around 1986, two years following the 1984 AT&T breakup, AT&T had an absolute monopoly on assigning 800 numbers to subscribingcustomers.
[
citation needed 
]
Billing during that period was based on average hours usage per line per month. This type of billing required users to adjusttheir active lines based on actual peak hour usage to avoid buying hours at higher low tier rates. Usage would average 13-15 cents per minute dependingon the traffic being billed.During 1985 and 1986, the FCC and the Federal Courts which oversaw the divestiture of AT&T and subsequent developments in the telecom industryordered an eventual fully competitive portable numbering system for toll-free numbers. The local Bell telephone companies (now separated from AT&T)and Bellcore would manage the databases for full number portability. However, it would take some time before this system could be fully developed,tested, and implemented across the country. No firm date was determined at that time for activating this database system nor the management of such asystem. New methods of telephone network signaling systems (SS7) were still under development and still needed to be implemented. In the meantime,starting about 1986, the Federal Government ordered Bellcore to assign specific 800-NXX codes to specific long-distance carriers. Thus, from 1986 to1993 Toll-Free customers were locked into a system that led them to the telephone carrier like AT&T or MCI that assigned them their 800 number, based on the first six-digits (the 800-NXX code) of their full 800 number. By 1991 the FCC ordered that by May 1, 1992, full number portability wouldneed to be in place nationwide, since the number database system and various peripherals and administrative functions were now available throughout thecountry. However, shortly before May 1992, the FCC and the telephone industry determined that the full implementation would need to be postponedfor another year. May 1, 1993 was the actual date when full 800 number portability was effective throughout the US.
[
citation needed 
]
Canada fully joinedin the US 800 number portability system a year later in May 1994. Canadian 800 service developed in parallel with US 800 service in the 1960s and70s, and by 1984, "crossborder" US/Canada 800 service finally became available, where (upon the called customer's option), a US-based 800 number could now be called from Canada, and vice-versa, a Canadian-based 800 number could now be called from the US.800 Number Portability means that toll-free numbers are no longer associated with a particular telephone carrier such as AT&T or MCI. 800subscribers can switch to another carrier without changing their toll-free number. Before toll-free number portability, toll-free subscribers were lockedinto their carriers, based on the 800-NXX code, the first six-digits of their 800 number. They could not change those carriers without changing their 800numbers. Starting in the early 1990s, Toll-Free 800 Service became a viable business tool with the use of Vanity Numbers such as 1-800-FLOWERS.With these changes, rates have continued to fall and the majority of large users are now buying toll-free services for less than 2 cents per minute
[
citation needed 
]
.In 1985, British Telecom in the United Kingdom started using 0800 (Freefone) and 0345 (local-rate) numbers
[4]
with Cable and Wireless also using0500 and 0645, in much the same way, just a few years later.
Toll-free vanity number for branding & direct response
See also: Phoneword#Vanity numbers in the United States

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