TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: A Question About 'Dial 1' in USA Calling

Re: A Question About 'Dial 1' in USA Calling

Stephen Sprunk (
Sat, 04 Feb 2006 16:16:20 -0600

<> wrote in message

> Dan Popescu wrote:

>> I wanna ask you a question if that's OK. First I should tell you that
>> I live in Europe. It's not clear to me: when you make an interstate
>> call within the US is it necessary to dial 1 before the area code and
>> number or can you dial just area code + number?

>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The general rule is we have to dial
>> '1' between any two area codes in any of those places.

> Not necessarily. Rules vary from place to place depending on legacy
> dialing procedures and contemporary needs. Some places need to dial
> only seven digits even when crossing an area code boundary. Other
> places must dial ten digits even within their own area code. It's
> very complicated.

There are still places where you can dial 7d and it goes to another area
code? Wow.

> I believe today's system is set up so that you can dial 1+area
> code+7digits regardless of where you're calling and if the area code
> is needed or not.

That depends on where you are. Each state PUC seems to set different
rules about how these things work for landlines. Mobile phones are an
entirely different matter, and thankfully they seem to be more

> My region, for example, has 10 digit dialing. If I call a different
> area code (overlay or adjacent) within my region, whether it is a toll
> call or not, I do not need the "1". If I go outside the region I do
> need the 1.

In my state, all toll calls begin with "1" and all non-toll calls do
not. If you get it wrong (either way), you get a recording telling
you to add/remove the "1". All areas with more than one area code
have mandatory 10-digit dialing even within the same area code.

In other states, you may need a "1" to dial another area code even if
it's not toll, and non-toll calls may be either 7 or 10 digits.

It appears that dialing "1" plus 7 digits to make a toll call within
your own area code went out of use in the mid 90s when the "new" area
codes were opened up, but I wouldn't be surprised if some corner of
the US still had it. There are still places with 4- and 5-digit local
dialing, too.

> There's a artificially defined border known as the LATA, which
> separates local from toll calls; that is, calls handled by the local
> telephone company vs. calls handled by a "long distance" company.
> Anyway, some area codes span multiple LATAs. That is, one can dial
> only seven digits yet be charged for a long distance call. Other area
> codes are very small or even overlays for the same region.

Local calling regions are usually much, much smaller than a LATA.
Most of the US can only dial neighboring exchanges for free. Even
large cities like Chicago and Detroit don't have local calling across
town, though a few others do. That's mostly a state PUC issue.

There's also a distinction between interstate, intrastate, and
intra-LATA toll calls; the first is always carried by an IXC and the
third is always carried by the LEC, but who carries the second seems
to vary.

> The concept of a "toll alert" is somewhat obsolete because of the
> great variety of billing plans. I have national unlimited, so
> theorectically I don't need the 1 at all. But obviously some people
> have a la carte plans.

It gets worse ... The toll alert here actually varies depending on your
billing plan with the LEC. For instance, I can order regular service (which
only has 5 exchanges local), metro service (the entire city is local),
extended service (the entire LATA is local), and statewide service (the
entire state is local). A call that requires a "1" with one billing plan
may only work without a "1" in another billing plan. Sheesh.

Stephen Sprunk "Stupid people surround themselves with smart
CCIE #3723 people. Smart people surround themselves with
K5SSS smart people who disagree with them." --Aaron Sorkin

*** Free account sponsored by ***
*** Encrypt your Internet usage with a free VPN account from ***

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: That is why my original response in
this thread included the operative phrase 'the _general rule_ is'. I
personally was thinking more of cellular phones versus landline phones
when originating calls, but calls from landline phones in different
LATAs/zones/etc also can be applied. While frequently omitting the
area code, the obligitory '1' at the start, etc does make a
difference, and gives various undesired results (on a cell phone for
example)I have never yet seen a case where a person who always went to
the effort of punching in the fully qualified eleven digits ('1' plus
AC plus 7 D) ever went wrong with a cellular phone. The trouble is, we
are lazy; why do eleven digits if we can get by with ten, why do ten
if we can get by with seven, etc? I am _very_ fortunate that here in
my area of s.e. Kansas (a/c 620) on my 620 Cingular Wireless cellphone
I can do seven digits for everything in the area, which is pretty
vast, east from Missouri and west to Colorado. NOT on my landline,
mind you, but on my cell phone. Anywhere else requires the area code
first, but I never have use a '1' in any case, just A/C plus 7 D.

But here is an odd one: my GAIT phone, which I use now and then, does
okay out on the far west side of town, near Walmart, but the newer
totally GSM phone absolutely insists it wants 620 plus 331 whatever
out there. Over here around my house, 7-D is just fine. Now I should
mention the tiny amount of calling on the cell phone I do: I call my
keepers (if I am not at home but need to speak to/see them), the taxi-
cab driver to come and get me to go wherever, the store I want to get
something from, etc. Every call I make is 331-something, now and then
a 332 number. It really roasts me to get out by Walmart (I do not
usually like to go to Walmart; but I do to the Dollar General store in
that mall and my hair dresser is by there also); Jeff (cab driver)
drops me off, I putter around and come back home in an hour or so. I
go to call the cab to come back (331-6019), call won't go through. I
wind up getting confused and annoyed (by product of my brain aneurysm)
my fingers cannot hit the right keys and I sit there with re-order
after re-order, literally struggling trying to figure out why _my_
phone keeps refusing my requests.("We do not recognize you as an
authorized user.") _Then_ I remember what Cingular told
me to do: recycle the phone entirely; dial _ten_ digits and see if
that works. Well, of course it does. And soon, I see the welcome sight
of Jeff and his cab pulling up, loading my shopping results in the
back seat or the trunk, getting me in the front seat next to him, etc.
Cingular insists: dial whatever as _ten_ digits, not as seven, even
though 'some of our towers around your area work wirh seven, the one
[out where you were at, they know nothing about our town naturally]
apparently does not allow seven digits.' Well, I scream at the
Cingular lady, my Vonage phone allows seven digits anywhere in 620,
why doesn't yours? My Prairie Stream landline phone does also, except
that they insist on 1-411 for Directory ("cause SBC makes us to it
that way" and they [SBC] outsources their Directory service to
somewhere in India where the people have not learned the difference
betweeen Independence, Iowa, Missouri [or only if you scream at them
also, the one in Kansas].

So to our original question-asker my now elaborated response would be,
'dial ten digits and you won't go wrong. Dial a leading '1' if telco
tells you to do so.' The phone system here in the USA is a frightful
hodge podge of schemes developed over the years with little or no
effort to keep it simple or make it understandable to everyone. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: T: "Re: Bogus! The Container Store Wants Your Phone Number"
Go to Previous message: Seth Breidbart: "Re: Challenge to Hospitality: The ID Check in the Lobby"
May be in reply to: Dan Popescu: "A Question About 'Dial 1' in USA Calling"
Next in thread: Stephen Sprunk: "Re: A Question About 'Dial 1' in USA Calling"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page