Wednesday, December 21, 2011

History Of The 1-800 Number...

Ever wondered how 1-800 numbers came to be in existence?  Or how about the journey the number had to travel for the technology to get to where it is today?  1-800 numbers have had a rocky growth, almost failing because of monopolies and cost effectiveness, with determination the concept spread as avenues opened for even the "Average Joe" to easily afford and effectuate toll free calls in their business world allowing their potential customer databases to grow.

On May 2nd, 1967, AT&T introduced the first 1-800 number as a substitute for collect calls and as a way to decrease telephone operator involvement.  Another reason for its creation was to afford businesses a service for their customers enabling them to be able to contact companies from wherever they may be.

At the time this service was known as IN-WATS (Inward Wide-Area Telephone Service) or Wats Lines.  Until 1984, AT&T held the monopoly on assigning 1-800 numbers to subscribers.  Billing was based on average hours usage per line per month and typically averaged about 13-15 cents a minute depending on the traffic that was being billed.

Some of the first companies to use the service included such hotel chains as the Marriott, Hyatt and Sheraton and motel chains such as the Quality Inn as well as Budget Rent-A-Car.  Though it appeared as the popularity of the service grew nevertheless it still failed and it was up to the companies themselves to save the dying venture.

Renting space and hiring their own employees many were able to continue with their own service as AT&T and NorthWestern Bell continued to compete with the growing advancement in 1-800 call centers.  Next the two companies continued to cater their business out of Omaha and would activate service within 24 hours, giving Omaha an advantage over their competitors who would sometimes have to wait weeks for the same service.

In 1966 Alabama became the first state to use the new intra-state communication and by 1967 it had gone nationwide.  The technology was introduced into Canada during 1969/70 and during this time period the two countries technologies did not connect and customers in both countries only options were to call 1-800 within their own boundaries.  At the time, however, only those willing to pay the extra toll fees were implementing the extra connection feature, making the 1-800 basically trapped within its own country due to costly financial services.  In 1982 this barrier was removed making it easily accessible to call numbers from either country.

It was the brilliant mind of Roy P. Weber from Bridgewater, New Jersey in 1978 who invented the 1-800 number (2nd generation).  His patent was assigned to AT&T and in 1982 that patent was put to use and the Data Base Communication Call Processing Method was born, although you will know it commonly referred to as, toll free or the 800 number.

In 1983, the two companies, in addition to Telesystems and First Data Resources developed a method to use Direct Inward Dialing (DID) to handle the incoming traffic no longer needing call centers to handle the whole load.  The DID system is still in use today to handle the incoming calls to call centers around the World.

By 1984 a federal judge ordered Bell's monopoly of 1-800 numbers to cease and the numbers were allotted out to several dozen regional companies.  Competition for 1-800 numbers made it increasingly easy for businesses to use the service and millions of subscribers became possible.  Vanity numbers soon became the norm as the monopoly was lifted and subscribers were given more freedom over their service.

In North America, the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) are often called 1-800 after the original area code which was used to dial them.  These calls can usually be made from any phone in Canada or the United States, although restrictions may apply depending on the provider's service plan.

Initially when a 1-800 number is dialed, the operator determines where the actual physical destination is then incorporates the intelligent network capabilities that are embedded into the program to route the call.  The number is then routed in the normal way after the geographic location has been determined.  Each toll free number around the World has its own numerical prefix affixed to it and does not necessarily always have a 1-800 attached to the number.

In the Spring of 1988, the 1-800 number data base was quickly decreasing in numbers and the 1-888 toll free number was introduced to augment more possibilities via numbers and potential customers.  However, this opened the door for competitive feuding amongst call centers all vying for their share and by 1998 the need for the 1-877 was introduced to further combat the growing competition, then 1-866 by the year 2000 and 1-855 being looked at currently in 2011/12.  

Consequently, the Internet, cell phones and technology have changed the face of business and where once only reputable companies were the monopoly holders of 1-800, today anyone can hold a number and run it out of their home business in their basements, if they desire.  Therefore the options are endless as 1-800 numbers become a viable business tool for opening doors into the vast world beyond.

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog  for 800 numbers and was compensated.  However, the views and opinions are my own.

Mad Moose Mama is an eclectic soul with many thoughts to share~!