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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. ….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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 0203 is the OG Cov prefix. Cov became 024 and has the exact problem of people thinking the extra 7 and 6 at the start of their phone numbers were part of the new prefix. I’ve ranted about people writing their numbers wrong since 2000. I love this video.

  17. There are still some shops in Glasgow that have the old 041 number on their signs…like, get with the times! Also, 01818118181 made me laugh so much! I miss Live & Kicking.

  18. 8:15 this splitting happened in some places in the U.S. as well. I think earlier growth used to be handled through splitting, and later (late 90s on) growth happened through overlays (multiple area codes in the same location).

  19. Tom delved too deeply and fell for the scheme. UK phone numbers are an absolutely inexcusable mess. US and Canada are mostly futureproof.

  20. British phone numbers seem like they would make a lot more sense with some extra hyphen/spaces/periods in there, and with letters for the city codes.

  21. In the US with cellphones, you typically don't answer if you don't recognize the number; you let them leave a voicemail. You don't pay for minutes for voicemails.

  22. Here's the North American way of planning for the future: 10 digits gives us a possible 10 billion phone numbers (10^10; excluding the reserved area and exchange codes that can't start with 0 or 1, so more like 8-9 billion). There are currently about 400 million people in the US + Canada + the Caribbean, and about 8 billion in the world. So we have about 20X times the phone number address-space that we need. This sounds very “American” but sometimes the best approach is just to go big (or go home).

  23. I like how you say the NANP is complicated, but I can’t for the life of me follow your codes.

    Also, my old phone plan only charged for incoming calls if I answered

  24. UK area codes can be (after the leading zero) 2, 3, 4 or 5 digits long and local numbers can be 8, 7, 6, 5 or 4 digits long BUT (and this bit is very important) there are only certain valid combinations because all UK phone numbers have 10 (or occasionally 9) digits in total after the leading zero.

    The valid combinations are
    2+8
    3+7
    4+6
    and more rarely
    4+5
    5+5
    5+4.

  25. The important point about geographic area codes is that places with more people have a shorter area code and more digits in the local number giving more telephone numbers within that area code. Most UK numbers have 10 digits after the leading 0 or +44, only a few number ranges have 9 digits after the leading 0 or +44.

  26. we should just use 64-bit hex codes: 12 bits for country, 12 bits for area (FF0 for toll free, FF1 for mobile, FF2-FFF for other special cases), and 40 for the unique number bit

  27. Cock n' balls? I'm surprised that didn't get copyright strike from the Conservative party for using their logo. 🤣. 

    Also North American phone numbering system makes way more sense – fixed set of numbers and you never have to change your phone number. Run out of phone numbers? Create a new 3 digit area code and add new subscribers to that one! And heck it works for a population of around 400 million (US + Canada + bunch of Caribbean countries) and we won't be running out of numbers till 2049. It's also good that they don't distinguish between mobile and landline phone numbers why discriminate against them? Sure paying for incoming calls is a little silly but for many people in the Americas unlimited calling is normal.

  28. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m old or it’s because I’m cheap. PS I’m an old American. By old I mean 73 and somewhat
    disabled so I don’t leave my home very much maybe once a week or once every two weeks depending if I have to go to the grocers or a doctor’s appointment or something like that. In the last 15 months, I have yet to put 5000 miles on my SUV. Anyway, I have a mobile phone or perhaps I should say cell phone it is not a smartphone. My solution to the problem of having to pay
    for people who are calling me is I only turn on my cell phone when I am outside my home and I don’t give my number to anybody except a very few close friends and a few family members. So when I’m at home my cell phone is turned off and I don’t receive any phone calls and I don’t have messages turned on so I can’t receive any messages as I don’t want to hear from anybody when my phone is turned off. I have a landline and I have unlimited phone calls on my landline so I don’t get charged for long-distance calls and because it’s a landline I don’t get charged for incoming calls. I also unplug my landline when I want to sleep during the day so I don’t get any phone calls but I don’t want and sometimes I just leave it off for several days at a time just to annoy the
    telemarketers and anybody who’s trying to collect money from me. I have just purchased a non-brand-name smart-phone that I saw on a YouTube video about good inexpensive smartphones that will hook up to AT&T or I can use with my pay by the minute cell phone account. By the way when I mean a non-smart phone my current cell phone is a flip phone I don’t even know how to take pictures with even though it has a camera. Like I say phone technology has passed me by that my stage of life I actually don’t give a damn about it. If they should ever figure out a way to repair my aging body so that I can myself become more mobile and perhaps live longer I will have to learn how to use all that technology. But it doesn’t look like I’m in a live five or 10 more years so I see no reason to add that kind of information into my already filled brain/memory. The strange thing is I can remember the phone number I grew up within the 1950s/60s but I cannot remember my own current cell phone number. I literally have to hang up on whoever I’m talking to look in the section of your own number on the list of things in the cell phone get the number write it down and then call the person back and let them know what my cell number is assuming I’m going to give it out which I generally just simply say “I don’t have a cell phone”. It just makes it so much easier and less annoying. I don’t even have an answering service for my landline I have an answering machine and I told the phone company that I did not want them to activate any phone messaging services. They said it’s free I said I don’t care I don’t want it. I have diarrhea of the pen. Sorry.

  29. Everyone here is discussing tele numbers and the video's content and all i cant this of is 3:23 – 4:25 The park bench pushup lady

  30. The French system is much simpler:
    0 at the beginning of the number means a domestic call. It's subdivided as follows:

    1 for Parisian region
    2 for North West regions
    3 for NE
    4 for SE
    5 for SW
    6 or 7 for mobile phones
    800 – 805 : Free numbers (suicide hotline etc.)
    806 – 809 : Normal pricing, but given to specific organizations
    81x, 82x, 89x : extra costs, even if you receive the call. Mostly used for shitty helpdesks and scams
    For 01-05 there are sub-area codes, but no one cares.

  31. As an american, this seems way more complicated than what we have here. I've personally never seen a problem with not knowing whether someone is on a landline or on a cellphone, especially when pretty much everyone has unlimited talk and text on their phone plans. All phone numbers in the US are 10 digits long, with a 3-digit area code and a 7-digit personal number.

    I remember about a decade ago when dialing the area code was optional; if you just dialed 7 numbers, it would assume you're calling someone in the same area code. So, since all my friends and family had the same area code, there was basically no need to memorize more than just those 7 numbers. What hasn't changed is that if you are on a landline and you want to call someone outside of your area code, you need to put a 1 in front of it, meaning you need to dial 1-(123)-123-4567, for example. The 1 at the start is optional if you're on a mobile phone.

    But this was a little strange, because it meant that for landlines, you would either dial 7 digits or 11 digits, never 10. But several years ago, they made the area code a required part of dialing, so calling someone with just their personal 7 digits won't work. It made things simpler and more consistent, especially for businesses who had to deal with customers not inputing their area code and leaving the business to basically hope that they shared the same area code. Now there's none of that ambiguity.

  32. It's not a clever hack if you change literally everybody's phone number out from under them. Twice.

    See here in America only changed it once. And the only change they made was that starting in 2016 you have to dial the area code. Before you could just dial the number if you were in the same area code.

  33. 11:23 yeah you get that here in america

    ysee back in ye olden times when cell phones had a limited number of minutes per month, since you get charged for incoming calls, people got really irritated if people tried to call them up and sell them something and waste their minutes. now that most everybody is on unlimited talk and text…

    I don't know if robocalls are a thing in britain but i get like 2 or 3 a week. you get a call from an area code you've never even heard of, caller id (when there IS caller id) says they're in a state at least 1000 miles from you, you pick up the phone and Microsoft Freaking Anna comes and tells you that the IRS is suing you (which they're legally not allowed to do) or that your social security number is being cancelled due to fraudulent activity (which they're also not legally allowed to do) or that your iCloud account has been hacked and "before using any of your apple device [sic] we reccomend you speak to support advisor". Funny thing about that is I don't own any Apple devices. (At least not any that are new enough to know what iCloud even is)

  34. Oh, “dialling local numbers”. I found out at some point that the UK still has an open dialling plan, so if you know the length of the area code you can dial just the local number. This is the same UK where if the caller doesn’t hang up they can keep your line engaged after you hang up (scammers use this “feature”)

  35. I grew up in London and my mum is very hoardery. I grew up with 0171 as my old area code (I remember the 0207 change… And yeah didn't even occur to me it was supposed to be 020 until you just said it) and like I used to see like really old cards in my mum's bureau where the phone was, which I'd filter through while I was listening because I'm a fidgeter. I was used to seeing 071 numbers in there, and even some really old janky shop signs would have them. But one time I found a number in my mum's bureau which was 01 and I nearly lost my damn mind.

  36. so what i am hearing is the usa system makes a lot more sense, we just should have put in something for mobile vs landline. (which considering the every other mess just add a code at the front of the number for mobile so that mobile numbers are longer)

  37. 4 digits, or 5 digits, or 6 digits…

    wow…ours is easy. 3 digit area code gives you state and region, 3 digit prefix gives you an area of the city, 4 digit customer number connects you to that extension in the telephone exchange switch work. I imagine the odd digit grouping is going to be explained, but right off the bat it sounds ridiculously convoluted.

  38. Omg so complicated. Australia is simple. All mobiles are 10 digits beginning with 04. Each state has its own area code eg. 07 Queensland. Followed by 4 digit locality (usually same for one or 2 suburbs) then 4 digits.
    Makes it easy to dodge telemarketers. If I get a call starting with 03(Victoria) or 08 (Western Australia I think] I just don’t answer

  39. Here in Idaho, US we only have 208 as our area code. The next 3 numbers decide what city you are from or if it a mobile. The last 4 are just specific for you. Also for mobile phones, certain numbers can be specific to certain phone companies. I had a mobile number and I wanted to change providers. They had to get my previous provider to release the number before the one I wanted could use it.

  40. I'm not one to usually brag about "American Exceptionalism" but the North American Numbering Plan is not complicated and sooooooo much better.

  41. Jesus bloody f-ing Jehoshaphat…i understand precisely none of that! In the USA it's very simple…each state has a local 3 digit prefix or "area code" but after that, the remaining 7 digits can be virtually anything and this works in each unique state.

  42. I didnt understant anything in this video. What does UK phone number look like? Why did they keep messing with regional numbers instead of adding a few numbers to each client when they ran out?

  43. So it's about as messy as IPv4 assignment was originally (with Class A, B, and C allocations) to then be messed around by the introduction of variable length subnet masking

  44. In the US, I think the system was that the middle set of digits (xxx-111-xxxx) would have lower numbers for metro areas, to make rotary dialing faster.

  45. I have watched the whole video and understood nothing. Can you tell by the phone number in what building it is? why dont phone numbers dont get just longer and stay in the city prefix then London can have infinite numbers without needing any new setup. Maybe if you get new cities and you have the city prefix a specific length. But that is a strange problem since you cant really have infinite cities they would count part of other cities at some point.

  46. On the one hand, I really appreciate this video because I had to put in a bunch of British phone numbers at work and was getting really mad. On the other hand, as much as all this was clever at the time, I'm still mad about the fixed length thing because I don't know where the breaks go and the Excel file looks stupid.

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