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Tom Rants About Phone Numbers For Roughly Sixteen Minutes

Tom Rants About Phone Numbers For Roughly Sixteen Minutes


Matt: Hi I’m Matt,
Tom: and I’m Tom, Matt: and this is the park bench,
Tom: actually out in a park again. And someone’s drawn a cock and balls on the path behind us. Allow me to just show you here that our normal bench has been desecrated with A well-placed but extremely well-drawn cock and balls. We’re sitting this way, so I don’t know what that says about… A couple weeks ago, we were talking about… What were we talking about that spawned this? Matt: Oh, people were ringing us.
Tom: Yes. And I got a couple of messages asking if I could explain British phone numbers. Because I used to do those rants on Computerphile about time zones and things like that. And I threatened to do one about British phone numbers and a couple people said I should. And I’d say probably at least a third of the watchers of the Park Bench aren’t from the UK, so Tom: Yes, and…
Matt: don’t understand our number groupings in the same way we don’t understand yours. I mean, to be fair, most of Britain doesn’t understand how UK phone numbers work, and that’s a problem. Matt: Yeah.
Tom: I thought I was gonna have a long rant about this. I thought I was going to insult the engineers at the post office, as it was, and then British Telecom after them,
and then Ofcom after them, But then I actually did the research for this rather than just doing an incoherent rant. I actually looked this up, and look, I have prepared notes. It’s gone serious. Yeah, apologies. I’m going to be doing a lot of talking here. Oh, look at you in your branded YouTube notepad that’s the same color as your t-shirt. Um, yeah, this is— Oh, that’s bright. Okay, so, we’re sitting with our backs to the sun, and this is a heliograph. I could signal passing planes with this. I have never heard that word before. You know and someone like gets— Planes. No, heliographs. I’m sorry; that was perfect. I will handshake on that. You set that up perfectly. I got a word into the description, and you just— Well done. It’s using a mirror to signal with the sun. Matt: Oh, that thing. Cool.
Tom: Yes. I did the research Back in the old days… So first of all, UK phone numbers are a mess. Okay? Our area codes can be three-digits-long or four-digits-long or five-digits-long or six-digits-long, and the local number can have five digits or six digits or seven digits or eight digits. This is not great. So most people would probably assume it’s a five-digit area code and then two threes in most circumstances. Yeah, in most cases certainly for all mobile phones—everything like that—five and then six which is meant to be the standard. So back in the old days… So what I’m going to do is as I run through my notes and I actually… “Old days.” [strikes off list] There was a famous phone number: Whitehall 1212, which was Scotland Yard’s phone number. If you wanted to call the London Metropolitan Police… It was well-known. To this day, the last four digits of their phone number are 1212. Matt: Aw.
Tom: Yeah, nice bit of tradition, and to reach that you would actually have to pick up the phone and talk to an operator who would connect you to the Whitehall exchange and then you’d be able to get through to 1212. And then, in the… whenever—I didn’t write that down… Was that number picked by a sound engineer? 1212. Nice. No. But if you mean, “Was it picked by an engineer who was quite sound,” probably. Matt: Sound engineer.
Tom: Yeah, not a sound engineer, a sound engineer. It’s like a camp bed, just… Let me introduce something called “Subscriber Trunk Dialing.” Wait. Did they call it “STD”? Yes, they called it “S”— Well, they called it “STD,” which… I mean, back then, STDs were called “VDs,” so it was fine to do this, Matt: Okay.
Tom: but yeah. So everyone wanted STDs back then. Yeah, basically, you could just call up and— So having STD all over you was a Matt: good idea.
Tom: Yeah, having STD meant that you were— [At this point, Tom made a joke so painfully unfunny that it’s been removed entirely from the video.] So Subscriber Trunk Dialing meant that you dialed a zero, and that meant you are going out to the national exchange and you’re going to put an exchange number in, not a local number, Matt: Okay.
Tom: and that zero became part of our area codes, so the first thing we dial— All British phone numbers start with a zero. Unlike a lot of countries where you just get the area code, and if you want to dial out, you just dial one or something before it. Our area code traditionally include the zero because it’s easier. And the engineers— Again, I used to rant about this, but now, I think they’re actually pretty clever because it turned out they use prefix codes. So you know I talked about the national dialing codes, where +1 means, “That’s the end of the code; there won’t be anything after that.” Matt: Yeah.
Tom: Like we have +44 for Britain, so there will never be a +441 area code. Tom: You know it ends there.
Matt: Oh really?
Tom: Yeah. +441 international code. Because it’s a prefix, so it only goes off what’s at the beginning, Matt: And if there’s anything after it, then…
Tom: Yeah, it’s got to be a local one. So that means you can have a one-digit, two-digit, three-digit—it doesn’t matter—they will never be ambiguous. And it turns out they did the same thing here. They gave London 01. Whole of London just gets the code 1, basically. Then five big cities—Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester—they gave two through six. So 021, 031, 041, 051, 061. And I didn’t realize this until what literally on the way here as I was looking at this that Birmingham, B, 2; Edinburgh, E, 3; like the old code, the letters that were written on the numbers—they all match up. Matt: Huh.
Tom: Whoever worked that out, congra— Like, someone back in history went, “Wait, I’ve got five cities, they all map to these— That’s how we’re doing it, folks.” Great plan. So now we’ve already got London two digits and big cities three digits. The rest of the country—all the towns and all the smaller cities—got four-digit codes. Yeah, and those numbers reflect the numbers on the key buds as well Tom: Yes.
so you start typing the name of it so like, I’m from York, so that used to be 0904, so Tom: Yes that’s Y and O, because O was 0
Matt: Y, O Oh, I see they’ve run out Matt: of numbers then.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah, the same way Mansfield where I used to come from was MA3, or something like that. 0623. And this was fine, and then the local exchanges could have five digits or six digits or seven-digit numbers depending on how much demand there was and they thought there’d be, and this was, in its fairness, a pretty good system. And I realize now, having done the research, all this is a great system as long as you don’t expect your dialing code or your number to be a certain number of digits. Tom: As soon as you forget that, the whole system makes sense.
Matt: Right. So. [dramatically crosses off list] Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention, the other reason they will have done big cities with small codes is because back then, you had rotary dials, so you had to literally [rotary dial noises] Tom: and wait for it to go back on those old…
Matt: And all the dialing codes that have got the most population Matt: have got shorter…
Tom: Yep! Shorter codes. I think the American system is the same, actually. Tom: Uh…
Matt: I think I read that. I thought it was left-to-right or right— [Matt and Tom are both wrong during this entire section.]
You infected me with west-to-east stuff. [Matt and Tom are both wrong during this entire section.] [Here, Tom is thinking of US zip codes.]
I thought it was east-to-west, 01 to 09, [Here, Tom is thinking of US zip codes.]
but I might be getting confused with zip codes. [The North American Numbering Plan is actually really complicated.]
I might be getting confused. [The North American Numbering Plan is actually really complicated.]
I think I read somewhere that new York’s got Matt: like 023 or something like that.
Tom: We’re going to get corrected there.
Matt: Yeah.
Tom: Yeah. Anyway, they hit in 1990 the same problem that America hit which is that they were running out of numbers. Matt: Yeah
Tom: There are codes that were getting full. Unlike America, they’re all geographic, so America solved this by allowing the same region to have two or three or four or five area codes, Matt: Oh okay.
Tom: completely unrelated to each other. Matt: That’s one way of sorting it.
Tom: That’s one way of sorting it, yes. We did not do that. First problem: London’s full, and they’ve got the number 01, So they can’t really do much to that. So they split it: Inner london is now 071 outer London is now 081. Matt: Oh okay, yeah.
Tom: Alright, that’s fine. And that way, there’s no ambiguity. If you dial 01 because it was the prefix code, you know that you haven’t dialed correctly. You just disconnect the call; the number must’ve changed. Matt: Okay.
Tom: This is really clever— I meant to rant about this; this may be an angry rant. And then I just kept going, “Oh, that’s actually a really clever hack.” Tom: “Oh, I see what you did there.”
Matt: ‘Cause it’s funny: After we mentioned it last time we had a chat about it and were both complaining, but you seem to have found some things that have allayed a lot of our complaints. Tom: Yes,
Matt: Allate?
Tom: And then the ’90s there are also— “Okay, so there are these weird things called mobile phones now, so we’ll set aside a different code for them. That’ll be 0-whatever. 083-something or whatever, but we won’t need many of these, so it won’t really be a problem.” Ahem. [strikes off list] 1995 comes along; it’s starting to be a problem. Tom: Do you remember the phone day back in 1995.
Matt: Yes, and in fact I saw someone posted on the social network—someone I work with found a BT phonecard, Matt: which you would top up and used to pay,
Tom: Oh, God, an actual payphone card.
Matt: Yeah. Matt: that had an advert for PhONEday,
Tom: Yeah and it spelled phone but with “ONE” in capital letters Matt: in the middle of “PhONEday.”
Tom: Yes, because the idea was everyone’s landline across the country was going to change from 0-something—0623, as Mansfield was— Matt: 0904 for York.
Tom: to 01. Matt: So 01904.
Tom: We were getting an extra digit added in there, and Again, I keep looking at this and going, “Oh, that’s a really clever plan.” Because you’ve suddenly multiplied by ten the number of area codes available. All the landlines are now bumped under 01. Oh, I suppose and you said London was 081, so that’s where Live and Kicking got 01818118181 from. Yep, so it used to be 081; then, it was 0181-etc., yeah. Tom: That’s a very British [something] reference.
Matt: Does that mean going live, it had 081, Matt: and Live and Kicking had 0181.
Tom: Yes, they did. I don’t think the change perfectly matched, but basically, yeah. Tom: Yeah, that was…
Matt: Kids, Saturday morning TV.
Tom: Saturday morning shows. That also meant that if everyone’s landlines— Matt: Sorry, just imagine anyone ringing a TV show now.
Tom: Right, yeah. Matt: I don’t think that really happens, does it?
Tom: Eh. 01: Landlines. That means everyone’s landline now starts 01. They’ve also reserved 02 for future codes. That means that 03 can be “non-geographic stuff,” they originally called it. It’s like all the things where you want a company to be able to Tom: reach wherever.
Matt: Services.
Tom: Yeah. So, 03. 04—there’s some technical stuff in the other numbers. 07 can be all the mobile phones and pagers and personal numbers and things like that. All the stuff that’s expensive, of course, has got a radio thing in it. America, because they stayed geographic, even their cell phones are geographic. Matt: Oh really?
Tom: Yeah. So if you’re in America, you can’t tell if a number is a mobile or a landline. Which is why you pay for incoming calls on mobiles in America. Tom: Or they get—
Matt: What?
Tom: Yeah. No, I’ve seen it on taxes. I had a SIM card… Matt: I thought that was bloody stupid because you have no idea if someone’s going to ring you
Tom: Yeah. Matt: or why they’re ringing you
Tom: Yep.
Matt: and it’s not your fault, Matt: so if it’s not your fault you shouldn’t pay for it.
Tom: Yes. Yeah, Britain? Caller pays, always, and pays a different fee depending on what you’re calling. Matt: Because you’re the one instigating it; it’s your fault.
Tom: But if it’s a geographic number, the caller has no idea whether they’re ringing a landline or a mobile. Tom: So they can’t be expected to—
Matt: Does that mean it doesn’t know how to charge them as well? Yeah, it’s just, “Oh right, that’s how many minutes they’ve been on a phone and had the connection open,” so they have to have caller pays. Tom: Right.
Matt: That’s messy.
Tom: Yes, it is. Then they kept 08 for special phone numbers, everything free phone up to national… That’s a whole, confusing mess I won’t get in to, but 08’s that. 09: Premium rate numbers. You’re paying a huge amount. Tom: But this, this again—
Matt: Special services. Yes. [crosses off list] Like calling into TV channels that will just— Matt: You know how we just said that people don’t call into TV channels anymore?
Tom: Yeah. Matt: I wonder if people do still call into those TV channels.
Tom: Probably. So this will be a great solution, except there are also small cities running out of numbers. So there were some cities where they went, “Okay, you guys—like Nottingham, near me— Tom: you’re not going to go 0602 to 01602—
Matt: Oh, is this why you’ve got 0113 for Leeds Matt: and 0114 for Bristol?
Tom: Yeah, and 0115 for Nottingham Except, they change it to a four-digit code, and then, because they needed more numbers in the area, they said, “We’re going to extend all the local numbers and put a nine before them all.” Tom: So it’s all going to be 0115 for Nottingham and then 9, or 2 in some other regions or something like that.
Matt: Okay. The idea was fine. You’re not going to five digits. You’re not going to do that. You’re going to stay on four digits, and we’re going to extend that bit instead, unlike the rest of the country. No one—okay, very very few people—actually understood that. Even now, literally twenty-two years later, you will still see signs up in Nottingham that proclaim the area code to be 01159. Five digits, because everywhere else in the country’s got five digits, so of course they do as well. Matt: It’s the same in London, isn’t it
Tom: Yeah, you can see what they were doing because they were like, “Cool, Nottingham, you’re going to get to be like London. You’re going to have a four-digit code like 0181. It’s going to be like that. It’s going to be 01185. You’re a big city; you get to be like London and Manchester and— Oh god, you’ve screwed it up.” Matt: But then London is 020.
Tom: Yeah, that came later.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah, so then London ran out of numbers again, so they just decided, “We’re going to start some 02 codes now, and you know how we’ve already changed your area code twice London? Well we’re doing it again!” But they’ve kept the original eight. Matt: and seven.
Tom: Yeah, so now they drop London down from a four-digit code to a three-digit code again: 020, move the seven and the eight to the start of there, so now you’ve got eight-digit numbers. Tom: So that’s no good because now London thinks it’s 0207 and 0208.
Matt: The London area code is 020
Tom: 020.
Matt: and then four then four digits, Tom: Yeah.
Matt: rather than 0208 or 0207. Tom: Yeah.
Matt: That’s not part of the area code.
Tom: No! And now it’s even messier because they’ve done that to a few other cities. They’ve done that to Cardiff, and they’ve gone, “No, you haven’t got a five-digit code anymore. Tom: You’re going to get to be like London; you’ve got a—
Matt: 023 on there or something.
Tom: Yeah, you’ve got a three-digit code.” No one—literally— You still see 023-whatever-it-is—five digits—as the area code in Cardiff. And basically, if you’re a person trying to write down or read out a British phone number, Matt: unless you know all of these things, you don’t know how to group it properly.
Tom: Yeah. Tom: Yeah.
Matt: Which means if it’s someone like us who basically does know most of them, Matt: and you’re trying to understand what they’re telling you,
Tom: Yes. it’s really hard to understand what they’re telling you if they say, “02087—” “Wha— Wait, start again and group it properly. Otherwise, I can’t understand what you’re telling me.” Okay, so, this was going to be an angry rant because that feels like… This was going to the rant about how you plan way, way ahead for the future for systems like this, and you have to try it— Like, what would have been useful is one Tom: massively, everyone-changes thing in—
Matt: But you. No, you— Stop take-thatting me. Admittedly, I was going to say, “In the ’90s,” so that’s fair. Tom: That was Everything Changes “Take That,” wasn’t it?
Matt: Yeah.
Tom: Okay. That would have been good; they couldn’t do that. But every bit of this going on is clever. Tom: I may not think it’s the right thing to do, but every single thing is clever.
Matt: And each step they have planned for the future. Tom: Yeah, ’cause—
Matt: They just haven’t planned for the amount of expansion in the future. Yeah, ’cause London now has 0203 numbers. The reason they picked three as the extra one— that’s in the eight digits, not in the area code—the reason they did that is because [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
there was never an old 0203 code. [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
Matt: Okay.
Tom: So years ago, back when that was the normal four digits, [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
Tom: They now— Oh, hello. There’s a dog there.
Matt: Hello! Hello there! [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
Bye-bye, dog. [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
They knew it was going to be ambiguous, so stuff from literally twenty-five years ago… [Tom got this the wrong way round. While there was 01203, it changed to 024 and thus if people thought “020 3” was an old “01203”number and tried to dial it, it wouldn’t work and oh no I’ve gone cross-eyed.]
You wouldn’t dial a number that was on a thing from twenty-five years ago and get the wrong number in London. Tom: There’s a load of really clever stuff in here.
Matt: So you can’t back-convert it and think it’s somewhere else.
Tom: Yes.
Matt: Oh, that’s clever. So all this makes sense—all this makes perfect sense if you accept that British area codes are numbers, do not have a fixed length, never will—the area code might be three, four, five, or six—the number of digits in the local area might be five, six, seven, or eight—it might be anything. Just dial the whole thing because everyone does that with cell phones now anyway, because no one does a goddamn number. Tom: They just punch a button in their phone, and it does the dialing for them.
Matt: Oh, yeah, you can’t dial just the local number; you don’t get charged. You need to type the whole thing in.
Tom: Yep. There you go: That’s the phone number rant. Tom: What do you want to rant about?
Matt: …
Tom: Don’t answer that; it’s going to be me.

100 thoughts on “Tom Rants About Phone Numbers For Roughly Sixteen Minutes”

  1. 4:12 meant that you were— AT THIS POINT, TOM MADE A JOKE SO PAINFULLY UNFUNNY THAT IT’S BEEN REMOVED ENTIRELY FROM THE VIDEO

  2. Spain:
    – It begins with a digit, wich tells you what kind of prefix follows. 9 (and recently 8) are territorial, 6 (and recently 7) are mobile phones
    – If it's a territorial prefix, you get the rest of it. They work by provinces, all though some border towns will get the one of the other province. So, except the 9 or 8, you get two other numbers, only one if it's more densely poblated.
    – That's it. All numbers are 9 digits long. It's made so the normal regional prefixes aren't 80 or 90 so you have information of for premium-rate telephone numbers. Each mobile phone company has a special prefix as well, but of course you can keep the old number when you move to another company…

  3. In America with cell phones we don't pay for incoming calls anymore. It once was and is why marketers are still not allowed to call cell phones or send a fax without prior permission

  4. I live in a 5 number local system and always get them telling me , I'm missing a number , it's irritating trying to get people to comprehend a 5 number system

  5. One advantage of the USA not distinguishing between cell phones and landlines is that you can port your number back/forth between one and the other. We now have almost complete number portability where you can even keep your number when you move across the country to a different state. It can be a bit confusing if one still assumes that an area code means something and you try to figure out why someone from Hawaii is calling you when it's really just your neighbor. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few years the USA drops area code meanings completely and a phone is just assigned a 10 digit number.

  6. I think it's funny how Matt calls America's system for charging for incoming calls on mobiles messy. How messy is it that you just pay for however long you've been on the phone? To me, the British system seems messy where you have different rate structures depending on what number you are calling. Anyway, America usually doesn't usually have to worry about it because most landlines and mobiles have unlimited calling included (including long distance), so you don't even have to worry about "minutes" in most cases.

  7. It's not very different from here. Area codes would range from 3 to 5 digits and phone numbers 5-8 digits. Some years ago all numbers from our region were prefixed with 2.

  8. In the US everyones number starts with a three digit area code, and then you've got a unique seven digit number after that. It's a nice system

  9. Basically three rules:
    1. Area codes are prefix-free.
    2. Each area code has its own rules for local numbers.
    3. A leading zero means dialing outside the area code of the dialing phone, and the area code will follow. No leading zero means dialing within the local area code.
    As a result of these rules, the telephone interchange can know what part of the number is the area code and when the whole number has been dialed once the last digit is dialed, without waiting for a pause in the digits.

  10. US numbers are much more consistent/standard. Although. Weirdly enough, you don't usually dial the area code. Except in Colorado. You always dial the area code in Colorado. I genuinely get confused why people leave out the area code in other states

  11. Airtime is so cheap now since so much is VOIP or video chat, every plan I've seen in the last five years here in the US that's not totally crap has unlimited calling and texting.

  12. In Argentina it's quite easy the structure is

    +54: that's the country code for Argentina, when you want to do a national call you don't need to put it

    3547: that's my area code for my home town alta gracia (351 for Córdoba 11 for buenos aires)

    5227-32 and that's your personal number it's always 6 digits separated like that (that's an random number don't call it)
    So if you want to call you just type 3547-5227-32

  13. I don't know how anyone could in good conscience implement an addressing system knowing that they'd even come within an order of magnitude of running out of space. But then again ipv4 happened

  14. And in Poland just gotta know 9 random digits, never else. At least a normal user doesn't have to understand anything.

  15. Why has nobody looked at how messy and incomprehensible phone numbers are all over the world and just said lets come up with something like IP but for telephone numbers, just some standardized thing that makes sense and can be expanded if needed

  16. My system for british phone numbers:
    No geographical numbers
    01 XXXX XXXX landline
    05 2XXX XXXX Corporate numbers
    Other 05 XXXX XXXX VOIP
    06 2XXX XXXX PNS
    Other 06 XXXX XXXX PRS
    07 XXXX XXXX mobile phones
    08 XXXX XXXX reduced rate phone
    09 XXXX XXXX free phone
    And enable local dialling for all numbers and not have service numbers starting 1 except for 112 which will be the sole emergency number to maximise available numbers.

  17. Starting with 0 is the only part I never understood.. If you're old enough to remember 0 takes the longest to dial.

  18. The brits, gawd love em, are hopeless at this sort of thing. They prefer the quaint and historical over the coldly logical. Look at their postcodes. Other countries just introduced a fixed digit numeric and said “there you go, deal with it”. Britain took its “ancient” London locality codes (SW3, etc) and then slapped it across the entire country like alphanumeric slop. Even Royal Mail acknowledges it was a mistake. Whilst the mail has moved on, the postcodes and the districts they describe will remain as indelible marks on the map of Britain, for diverse demographic reasons such as insurance, voting and route planning. They are the new historical counties, the footpaths and rights-of-way of the 20th century.

  19. it's similar in germany. old local numbers have 5 digits, while newer ones mostly have 8. area codes are 3-5 digits long, depending on the size.

  20. France is easier: (it’s groupes by pairs of digits
    2 digits (0 then it’s either 1-5 for geographic or 6-7 for mobile)
    4 digits (area code)
    4 digits

  21. In New Zealand our mobile phone code is always 02. However, then next digit is done by which provider you got the number with (i.e. Spark is 027, Vodafone is 021 etc)

  22. At uni in Hull we used to have our internet paid for by the Uni, with KCom (the BT of the area). As this was the age of internet and we all had mobiles they obviously hadn't bothered to pay for calls from the landline, but I discovered (after some experimentation) that it could still ring local area codes (01482) presumably for free.

    I could also ring the landline from outside after I got the number from an attempted cold call from a window salesman, which I then used responsibily to wake up my housemates when they were going to miss a lecture.

  23. I feel stupider now haha

    Australia has or had a very similar area code schema to the UK, and the same or similar challenges. It didn’t turn out so messy. You guys seem to have screwed up (IMO).

  24. I live near Nottingham (0115-9), and two years before that Bristol (0117-9) and that erroneous grouping gets on my nerves. The local number, in both cases, starts with that 9, and not the number afterwards.

  25. There's been weird edge cases where some really expensive numbers to call look liked regular geographic areas. Some satellite phone services. Oh, and the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and a few others.

  26. North american numbers are so much simpler 3 digits for area code, then 3 digit prefix then 4 digit suffix. The UK could use some simplicity

  27. Something I didn't realise till I saw a map of UK area codes a couple of weeks ago – the 011x codes are numbered north to south (Leeds 3, Sheffield 4, Nottingham 5, Leicester 6, Bristol 7, Reading 8).

  28. Love the video as phone numbers have always fascinated me…. however.. Tom said that London has introduced 0203 as nowhere had used that historically…. but until 1995, that was the area code for Coventry and surrounding towns. Sorry Tom!

  29. I'm American, and I can confirm there is no rhyme or reason to our system. I'm in Sacramento, 916, and a couple cities over you get to 530. Get to the Bay Area and you have 650, 408, 925, and more. There's no sense to it.

  30. Now, please do one for British Post code, because it's just a nightmare. Not only does it have digits, but also letters, and they're never in the same order.

  31. In the US cell users pay on both incoming and outgoing if they don't have unlimited plans.

    And writing code that manages incoming and outgoing phone calls based on area codes, regions, and time is the only code I have ever written that is CRAZIER than time/time zone code … it can drive you insane, it nearly did me.

  32. ….and to make it more confusing for Nottingham people, if you bought your landline services from a different supplier (as I did) your phone number starts with an 8 and not a 9. This would lead to people recording my phone number as 0115 98XXXXXX, which as you can see has eight digits rather than the correct seven. Yes I am old and I still have a landline.

  33. "If it's not your fault you shouldn't have to pay for it" …. this is also the argument against the US healthcare system.

  34. Every oil rig I've worked on in the UK has an Aberdeen area code (01224) irrespective of where the rig is located. I could be flying out of Norwich to 20 miles east of Hull (but still close enough to smell it when the wind blows the right direction), and I'd still have an Aberdeen area code.
    Approx once a year I'd receive a call in error, they would normally ask if Dave or John or whoever was there, I'd ask what their surname was so I can check and this would throw the person on the other end of the call, I then explained they had called an oil rig in the North Sea and that they'd called the wrong number.

  35. Coventry used to be 0C03 (0203) at the start of STD.

    At the start of STD our number Kenilworth 1005 morphed to (Warwick 0WA) 0926 67105 (not totally sure of the 67 … it was a long time ago).

    Scotland Yard (probably) morphed to 01 WHI 1212 or 01 944 1212 then at later dates morphed to (New Scotland Yard) 020 7320 1212 … the 7320 is now just part of the number and may no longer bear any direct relationship to the original exchange (in 1968).

  36. On the subject of famous telephone numbers which still reach the same organization far too many years later. If you ever find yourself having arrived in NYC on train and specifically Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, or Long Island RailRoad (hereafter known as LIRR), but not any of the 3 Metro-North lines, and you are in Pennsylvania station with no where to stay, you can still can PE6-5000, as made famous by Glen Miller, will still ring you through to the front desk of the Pennsylvania Hotel which is just across the street from Pennsylvania Station (in NYC). It is not a 5-star hotel any longer, but I suppose it rates 3-stars on a good day. Anyway, the old number still works.

  37. Went to see if the spelling thing worked with my area then it suddenly went sense why the number thingy on phone app has letters

  38. Fun fact, Isle of Man is a special case in that mobiles and landlines are almost interchangeable, you can dial either without the STD code. But if dialing in full they still look conventional with 01624 or 07624.

  39. Bournemouth and surrounding area (what used to be 01202) no longer has an area code. It's now part of the number, so even you're calling your next door neighbour, you have to include the 01202. It was done to increase the available number pool, so the last six numbers can now begin with a 0, which is it couldn't before.

  40. Brampton near Carlisle has the six-digit area code 016977 followed by a four-digit local number. As far as I know it’s unique in that regard.

  41. I used to live in UK and I hated the phone numbers, then I moved to the US and realized how simple US number are
    (000) 000-0000 (3 number area code) 3 numbers—4numbers
    UK numbers have no dashes or brackets so they’re harder to memorize 01952 400800

  42. If the UK were to split up, they probably would split up the +44 country code (similarly to what happened with Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia): Scotland might be +441, for example

  43. Well I understood very little of that to be honest but it was quite interesting. So does it actually matter how you group numbers when you dial them then?

  44. It seems that the Indian telephones happen to work the same way as India was once a part of the British colony. Delhi and the National Capital Region get 011, Mumbai (Bombay) and the surrounding areas get 022, Kolkata: 033, and so on and so forth.
    Smaller cities and less-populated regions get 4 digit codes and some villages and really small towns get 5 digit codes.
    07-09 is reserved for cellular communication, and yes, the caller pays for the call. Or at least, used to; but these days its become a negligible amount as most cellular operators have come up with bundled schemes where you pay around ₹400 (£5) for 3 months of unlimited calling, around 1.5GB/day of 4G data and 100 SMS/day without any extra charges.
    BTW today is the 72nd Indian Independence Day.

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