Telephone Numbers

In the dark dim distant past when I were a lad, I remembered telephone numbers. Nowadays mine are stored in digital memories (with hard copy backup) and I have not got a clue what my friends' and acquaintances' numbers are unless I look. And, anyway, no longer are those numbers local but in other regions of the UK, and for some people, abroad.

Mobile phones need the full telephone number; local land calls can be made using an abbreviated version but that is not necessary, certainly given I can't remember the numbers anyway (see above).

So the starter for 10 is:

Does it matter how a telephone number is presented nowadays as long as it contains all the necessary digits?

And the supplementary is:

Why do the holiday call centre service people always tell back my telephone number differently (ie differently grouped) to that which I have told them so that I cannot quickly recognise it as being correct and often ask for it to be repeated slowly. [Could be to do with my age, of course.]

Martin
 

Mike0001

Well-Known Member
I generally stick +44 on any UK numbers I may be calling from abroad. They get the +44 even when phoned from the UK.
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
This has obviously been covered elsewhere (Link HERE) and maybe you wanted new responses, not sure. However I'll re-state what I did in the other place, that in my opinion, how they are grouped when written makes no difference at all to the telephone exchange, They are all dialled exactly the same, the inter-digit pause, whether using MF4 or Loop Disconnect dialling is no different, e.g. the 'space' is not translated into a longer delay. If there was a set rule e.g. 4 digits for area and 7 for number then maybe it would make sense to put a space between the 4 and 7 but there is no such rule
 

Mike0001

Well-Known Member
This has obviously been covered elsewhere and maybe you wanted new responses, not sure. However I'll re-state what I did in the other place, that in my opinion, how they are grouped when written makes no difference at all to the telephone exchange, They are all dialled exactly the same, the inter-digit pause, whether using MF4 or Loop Disconnect dialling is no different, e.g. the 'space' is not translated into a longer delay

Can you dial a "space" then? I never knew that.

I don't dial the brackets round the regional code, either.:)
 
OP
M

MartinOnline

Member
I suppose I am not really interested in the technical aspects of how telephone numbers are acted on, more how they are viewed and used by people. Do people, in their minds, separate trunk and local calls? Plus my supplementary above which indicates that the way I remember numbers is different to others; is that common?

Martin
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
Can you dial a "space" then? I never knew that.
No, you can't dial a space, that is why I said "the 'space' is not translated into a longer delay"

The grouping of numbers is historic, e.g. 012 345 6789 is from the days when telephone exchanges had a maximum of 9999 lines an exchange had 3 digits and 'some' towns had 3 digits. Non of it has any significance any more

MartinOnline : The way I remember numbers is different to others; is that common?

The grouping of numbers is usually done, because people can remember and relay them to others better if they are in groups of 3 or 4
 

af123

Administrator
Staff member
The only time the split between the code and the rest of the number matters is if you are dialling from the same area.

So the London number 020 81234567 will work from anywhere but from inside London you just dial 81234567.
If you mistakenly thought the dialling code was 0208 then you might try to dial 1234567 from within London.

I don't store any numbers anywhere and always dial them from memory. I also tend to use the dialling code even if I happen to be calling from that area...

It winds me up when people mis-group their mobile number so that the dialling code is no longer 5 digits. Unreasonably since the dialling code is always needed when calling a mobile so it makes no difference at all!
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
To put in my tuppence worth, the difference it makes is to those of us who have been around long enough to know the old 4-digit STD codes. In the main, you can take the old 4 digits, and stick a 1 after the leading zero to get the new code - which thus groups the digits in the mind as 5+6. I know that doesn't work for the likes of London, but not all of us live in London.

The idea of quoting a number as 4+3+4 is purely artificial, because when you are copying a string of numbers you need to buffer a set of numbers at a time and it is thought to be easier to remember 4 digits at a time than 6. But since the starting digit is almost always 0, there are only 4 digits to remember in the STD code, then the 6 breaks up as two lots of three.

Take Bristol. Their STD changed from 0272 to 01179, but any Bristol number displayed according to official specification is 0117 9xx xxxx. I appreciate this is future-proofing in case Bristol needs to expand into 0117 8- or whatever, but it's not the way us oldies think of it (I will have to ask what the local dialling is - I will report back later).

Then you have London (and presumably the other major cities) with their 020 xxxx xxxx (or whatever it is) - the sin to my mind is not to have a uniform system of representation over the whole of the UK.

Update: apparently the local dialling in Bristol needs the initial 9.
 
OP
M

MartinOnline

Member
I moved from Portsmouth, a few years ago, which has a 02392 pre-cursor to the 6 digit number I was given when I first moved in. Southampton pre-cursor is 02380. To dial locally we had to dial 92 + the six digit number. I now live in Sheffield with a 0114 pre-cursor followed by a 7 digit (local) telephone number. I remember my number as: 0114 + 3 digits + 4 digits. However, often it is repeated back to me as 4 + 4 +3 or 3 + 4 + 4 and that requires me to think.

I remember my mobile number as 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 as the numbers have that sort of rhythm. And again I have to think when that number is repeated back not as that grouping, though I could accept the numbers all in one go.

Perhaps its an age thing.

Martin

PS. Sorry to use the word pre-cursor but I did not want to get into arguments about what is and what is not an area code.
 

Ezra Pound

Well-Known Member
. . .So the London number 020 81234567 will work from anywhere but from inside London you just dial 81234567.
There used to be a myth that I don't think was ever true, that for a given number say 021 345 6789 that if you called from within the 021 region but used all the digits instead of using 345 6789, that you would be charged for a long distance call rather than a local call, because of this users were reluctant to add the 'long distance digits' thinking they would be charged more. If this was ever true (which I doubt), it isn't true any more, so all you save is a very short amount of time and a less key presses if the number wasn't stored in the phone's memory
BTW
I do realise that Today the fictitious number I user would require an 11'th digit
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
It may well have been the case - when subscriber dialling was introduced the automatic charging systems would have been very crude. After all, the routing was done using electro-mechanical Strowager exchanges!

When I was in Canada ('87), their telephone system seemed quite primitive in comparison. Pay phones, for example, were operator monitored because they didn't know how to charge the caller. After you got through, when the money ran out the operator came on the line again asking you to put more coins in the slot - if you ignored her and carried on talking then hung up, the line at the other end got rung up and asked to make up the difference!

However, the stunner was this: even on a subscriber line you had to dial different codes according to whether your destination was medium distance or long distance (I can't remember the details). If you dialled the wrong code, an automated voice came on the line to tell you so. Thing is - if they could do that, why the hell not just put the call through anyway?!
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
Take Bristol. Their STD changed from 0272 to 01179
No it didn't. This is the WHOLE POINT of this thread and the formatting. The code was changed to 0117. The 9 is part of the number. The reason for this is that we were running out of numbers with only a 6 digit number, hence the expansion to 7.
Likewise for all other areas that changed at the same time i.e. Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester and Reading.

London was running out of numbers when they had 7 digits for the number and 01 as the code. This was solved by splitting it in half - 071 and 081 - which immediately doubled the capacity and solved the problem in the short term. These became 0171 and 0181 in preparation for the next change which was to 8 digit numbers. 4+8 was seen as overkill, so the 02x range came into use there to make it 3+8 instead of 4+7. Hence the code for London became 020.
Other capacity challenged places also gained 02x codes at the same time e.g. Cardiff, Belfast, Southampton, Portsmouth etc.

any Bristol number displayed according to official specification is 0117 9xx xxxx.
That's correct. Anything else is wrong and confusing.

I appreciate this is future-proofing in case Bristol needs to expand into 0117 8- or whatever, but it's not the way us oldies think of it (I will have to ask what the local dialling is - I will report back later).
You are severely out of touch. Bristol has had local numbers starting with 3 for a few years now. That was the whole reason for the change - to increase capacity. You only get that capacity when you use a different number to the one you were using at the time of the code change i.e. 9
Local dialling is obviously 3xx xxxx or 9xx xxxx. In the future it could be 4xx xxxx.

Then you have London (and presumably the other major cities) with their 020 xxxx xxxx (or whatever it is) - the sin to my mind is not to have a uniform system of representation over the whole of the UK.
The problem with that is that population and therefore number demand is not uniform. Some places cover vast areas with 6 digits. Some places cover relatively small areas with 8.

Update: apparently the local dialling in Bristol needs the initial 9.
Wrong. If you have a number that starts with 3 you dial 0117 3xx xxxx or just 3xx xxxx if in the 0117 area.
 

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I'm talking about human perception, not strict technical detail. That's my whole point, and something one has to be aware of when dealing with the population in general instead of talking at a geek level (something which IT departments would do well to remember). I actually spoke to somebody who has been living in Bristol for 40 years (even worked as a BT operator), and they were not aware of any numbers that did not start with 9.

I have no doubt that technically you are correct. People who have grown up with the existing system will not have a problem and find it hard to understand that anyone else could have a problem with it. The problem is that there is a large elderly population and no matter what you do they will stick with their perception of the new system as being "01 instead of 0", and there is nothing you can do about it because it is hard to impossible to reprogram the elderly brain.

I am in the useful position of being on the cusp, able to observe both sides, with the time to ponder it and try to communicate between the two sides. The elderly can't change, the young can be educated to understand.

Typical problem: the IT department says "our password systems too insecure, we will enforce a policy where everyone must change their password every month, we will check its strength and we will make it track history so nobody can re-use old passwords." Great. Secure. Except nobody over 35 can remember their current password and has to keep it written down (probably on a post-it note stuck to the VDU), and really there isn't much threat unless somebody in IT has sneaked off with the passwords hash file.

The problem with that is that population and therefore number demand is not uniform. Some places cover vast areas with 6 digits. Some places cover relatively small areas with 8.

I realise that, but it would not have been beyond the wit of man to break the dense areas up into smaller regions and keep a uniform numbering system. But of course, people who live in London (on telephone-number salaries) are too important to be inconvenienced like that, just the same as they were the last to go DSO and have the bugs worked out before it got to them.
 

BMAX

Member
It may well have been the case - when subscriber dialling was introduced the automatic charging systems would have been very crude. After all, the routing was done using electro-mechanical Strowager exchanges!
I am sure Mr Strowger will be revolving in his grave to hear his extremely elegant switches described as crude:)
 

Wallace

Traveler 34122
It's been quite some time since I worked on Strowger two-motion selectors.

I miss them, you could walk onto the apparatus floor and actually pick out one that 'didn't sound quite right'.

For those that are interested I stumbled across THIS site. The link goes straight to the sounds page. Strowger Stepping is the recording of a 'two-motion-selector'. Bliss.
 

Mike0001

Well-Known Member
Take Bristol. Their STD changed from 0272 to 01179, but any Bristol number displayed according to official specification is 0117 9xx xxxx. I appreciate this is future-proofing in case Bristol needs to expand into 0117 8- or whatever, but it's not the way us oldies think of it (I will have to ask what the local dialling is - I will report back later).

Update: apparently the local dialling in Bristol needs the initial 9.

Sheffield, where I live, used to be (0742) 345678. All those numbers were changed to (0114) 2345678. Locally, you need the initial 2 too.

Annoyingly, many people still say (01142) 345678, which is incorrect.
 

RobH1

Well-Known Member
Just catching up after some time away and a bout of nostalgia reminded me that when we moved to the sticks in Cumbria some 23 years ago, our telephone no. was the village name plus three figures. It seems quaint now, but at the time I remember looking forward to the phone ringing just to recite the number!
 
Top