General Question

robmandu's avatar

Do we still need to dial 1 for long-distance calls?

Asked by robmandu (21215 points ) July 7th, 2008

In this age of ubiquitous 10-digit dialing (3 digit area code + 7 digit phone number), cell phones, and unlimited calling plans, why must we dial 1 for a long distance?

Back in olden days, mechanical switches needed the 1 (as well as the second digit of the area code to be 0 or 1) to route properly. But that’s got to be way in the past what with today’s fully computerized telco offices.

I live in an area where we must always dial ten digits. Sometimes, area codes around here have phone numbers that are “local” and sometimes they’re “long distance” (requiring the 1). Problem is, I have no way of knowing in advance. It’s trial & error & frustration leading to messages like these:

> “We’re sorry. It is not necessary to dial a “1” for that number.”

- or -

> “We’re sorry. You must first dial a “1” for a long-distance call.”

Of course, this only applies to land lines. Cell phones have supported non-1 dialing in the U.S. for a long time. They automatically route long distance as needed.

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7 Answers

XCNuse's avatar

I do on my home line, on my cell it seems to figure it out (actually it really automatically puts a 1 infront of the number, check your contacts’ phone numbers and you’ll see lots of 1s)

I remember back in the day when I had to start using an area code to call my neighbor, it freaked me out I was so used to dialing only 7 digits.

Allie's avatar

I’m a bit confused. What do you mean you don’t know in advance if you need a 1 or not? If it’s a different area code you use a 1, if it’s the same area code you don’t need to add the 1. So if you know the area code (which I’m guessing you do if you know the phone number) then you should be able to tell whether or not you need a 1.

ccatron's avatar

@Allie – not necessarily. even if it is a different area code, you don’t always have to dial 1. for instance, when i call from Memphis, TN (901) to West Memphis, AR (870), I don’t dial a 1..you would think that a call between states would require a 1.

To answer the original question…I think it may have to do with the way the telephone company works. maybe the 1 is a code that tells the telephone company to use a specific line on their switch to send the call far distances and charge you extra for the call. I know that is a poor answer, but I figured I’d take a stab at it…i’ll look around and see if I can find anything.

XCNuse's avatar

No it isn’t states anymore, from my house up here just north of Atlanta, to call my school down in Valdosta, same state.. I have to call long distance.

dunno… I guess you know when you have to put a 1 in front when the phone never rings :)
that’s how I know lol

robmandu's avatar

@Allie, in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, there are several area codes that cover the two cities and the sprawl around and in between: 214, 817, 972, 469, etc.

I have next-door neighbors with 3 of those. 817 is most problematic for me in particular. Some of those are “local”, others are “long distance”. And, short of actually dialing the number, there’s no way to know. (It’s even more complicated than I let on. There’s this whole concept of “metro” area dialing plans that people must opt in to as well, but don’t want to sidetrack the discussion.)

@XCNuse, I wish ours worked like that. For me, I’ll dial the number, listen to three rings, and then the message picks up: ”dee Dee DEE It is not necessary to dial a 1…”

Cell phones don’t care about the leading 1. They take it, or not, and handle the call appropriately. It’s entirely optional. Which is the way it should be. I’m not a computer. I don’t have built-in GPS. How am I supposed to know I’m more than x miles away and hence, long distance?

Allie's avatar

ccatron & robmandu: Oh. Ok. Sorry about that then. But thanks for clearing it up. =)

Porkov's avatar

A pretty good rule is that calls within your LATA do not require a prepended 1, but calls to numbers outside your LATA will. There can be exceptions. Credit government regulation. This sort of explanation is what Google is for.

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