About Area Codes:
When I first took a telecommunications certification exam years ago - there were about 5 questions (each worth 8 points) on Area Codes
Somehow, I passed the exam but I know for a fact that I missed at least three questions on the North American Numbering Plan.
The original NPA (Numbering Plan Assignment) took the following 10 digit format:
|The Area Code break-out formula looked like this: |
- Area Code 1st digit: N = 2 through 9.
0 & 1 were reserved for operator access & calling card use.
- Area Code 2nd digit: 0 or 1.
Used in switching technology. 0 or 1 signified an Area Code (LD Call).
- Area Code 3rd digit: Any digit*
*1 was reserved i.e. 311, 411
Then in 1995 - the Area Code numbering assignments changed for the obvious reason: (We were running out of telephone numbers!)
Note: The Exchange Code assignment changed prior to 1995. However, I will cover this on another page.
So, with the addition of Cell Phones, Pagers, PDAs, and the like - the following schema took effect:
Some notes for aspiring PBX Admins: |
Toll-free numbers are free, right?
That depends on who you are and whether or not there are options below the dialed 1-800 number.
If you are an inbound caller to let's say a Technical Support Center - regardless of the Call Processing menu options upfront - the call is more than likely free to you.
However, if you are an Call Center Agent in the Technical Support Center answering the call - that same call is not free. Your company is incurring heavy-duty recurring costs on inbound 1-800 calls.
The above scenario is commonplace in the business world today. The caller rides free while the business does not.
Let's put a wrinkle in it.
You call up an Astrology 1-800 Hotline.
The call is free, right?
Yes and no. The call is free until you select a Call Processing Menu Option to learn more - then bingo. The call will end up on your telephone bill!
So what about 1-900 numbers?
We all know where most of them point to - so let's block them, right?
Yes and no - depends.
A lot of hi-tech companies have turned to the 1-900 area code because they were being eaten alive by inbound technical support questions.
So, to alleviate the heavy-duty recurring costs - they offer 60 days free technical support on an 1-800 number.
After this period - callers must use the 1-900 number (billable to the caller.) Microsoft employs this approach.
On the surface - it appears like a cheap-shot at the caller by vendors. But it's not - businesses can only absorb x recurring telephone costs or otherwise their product has little or no profit margin.
Now, what do you as a PBX Admin do?
Do you restrict each 1-900 number within the PBX? Sure, if you want to - go ahead!
However, because of the logistics involved and the increasing number of legitimate business using the 1-900 approach - you just might want to put a Forced Authorization Code upfront of any 900 number dialed. Issue the codes to the managers and individuals who require outbound access to the particular vendors.
What about 1-411 - is that free? No, it's another recurring cost on your telephone bill. Restricting or keeping open is entirely your call. Some companies block 1-411 and have the dialed digits routed to the switchboard operator. (You never know - the caller might be looking for a commonly dialed number. Why absorb the cost?)
That's it on Area Codes!
Now, you know why I had such a struggle with the Area Code questions in that Telecom Certification Exam. (Just throw the Exchange Code into the mix - and you'd run for cover too.)