TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes

Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes

Matt Simpson (
Mon, 19 Feb 2007 10:27:17 -0500

In article <>

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Am I correct in thinking that all
> party-line subscribers were geographically close to each other (such
> as a few doors away, or across the alley?) Were they nearly or always
> on the same cable out of the central office? Or were there party line
> subscribers across town from each other? PAT]

See John Levine's story about "party line attack ladies", Jun 20 1989,
in Telecom Digest Vol 9 Issue 207.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Not a bad idea, I suppose. Although I
do not like repeating myself, now and again it is a good idea to
re-run earlier items for the benefit of people who may have missed the
item the first time around, which I guess would include many of you
who were not here to read this item from 18 years ago. PAT]

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 89 0:58:57 CDT
From: TELECOM Moderator <>
Subject: TELECOM Digest V9 #207
Message-ID: <>

TELECOM Digest Thu, 22 Jun 89 00:45:22 CDT Volume 9 : Issue 207

Today's Topics: Moderator: Patrick Townson

Party Line Attack Ladies (John R. Levine)
Overseas Collect Calls (Jeff Minnig)
Automatic Conversation Recording Device (Gary L. Crum)
British Telecom's `Le Beep' Service (Peter T.)
Re: Long Distance Carrier Sound Comparisons (John Higdon)
Re: Is Touchtone Still a Protected Trademark? (Dr. T. Andrews)
Re: Pacific Bell plans access to computers (Robert Cohen)
What Is 10288? - Question from new reader (Don Peaslee)

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 89 20:13:34 EDT
From: "John R. Levine" <ima!>
Subject: Party Line Attack Ladies
Reply-To: "John R. Levine" <ima!!>
Organization: Segue Software, Inc.

While talking to my cousin who runs an independent telco in rural Vermont, he
introduced me to Party Line Attack Ladies, an aspect of telephone practice not
heretofore described here.

In Vermont, the cheapest service you can order is four-party, and many of my
cousin's customers do order it. Traditionally, a four-party line consisted of
a single loop of wire running to a neighborhood with four houses in that
neighborhood wired in parallel. Nowadays, though, the outside plant wiring is
in most cases private line, i.e. each customer has a separate physical loop
back to the exchange. To make up the party lines, he ties four loops together
at the CO. This has a variety of advantages for him -- nearly all of his
four-party customers do in fact have four parties on the line so they're not
getting better service than they're paying for, and it's much easier to
diagnose line problems, change peoples' service, and rearrange the four-line
groupings as needed.

It also means that his costs for four-party and private line service are the
same even though the rates for private lines are higher (four-party probably
costs him slightly more since an operator has to ask for the caller's number
for toll calls.) He'd naturally rather have people order and pay for private
lines. So he takes advantage of Attack Ladies, local ladies who make extensive
use of their party line phones and have strong opinions about people who want
them to get off the line to make their own calls. One per line is all that's
required. When a customer decides to go private, the modern exchange equipment
allows my cousin to put another client on to the same line with the Attack
Lady without needing to rewire or change phone numbers.

He assures me that this is standard practice in the independent phone
business. I don't doubt it. He'd prefer that the state get rid of four-party
service and implement some sort of low-use minimum cost private line service

John R. Levine, Segue Software, POB 349, Cambridge MA 02238, +1 617 492 3869
{ bbn | spdcc | decvax | harvard | yale }!ima!johnl, Levine@YALE.something
Massachusetts has 64 licensed drivers who are over 100 years old. -The Globe


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: So there you have an interesting report
from 18 years ago in this digest. John Levine has been around for
many, many years on this digest mailing list. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Jon Hurdle: "Twelve-Step Program Aims to Cure EMail Addiction"
Go to Previous message: Robert Bonomi: "Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes"
May be in reply to: "Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes"
Next in thread: T: "Re: Party Line Dialing, was Re: Telephone Area Codes and Prefixes"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page