1129: "Cell Number"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

jgh
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 1:04 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby jgh » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:35 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:there shouldn't be a lot of number length variance in the UK,
There aren't. Ignore the dozen remaining exchanges that haven't yet transfered to the full 10-digit system, all UK numbers are one of:
01b1 def-ghij (7-digit local number)
011c def-ghij (7-digit local number)
01bcd efghij (6-digit local number)
02b cdef-ghij (8-digit local number)
0abc def-ghij (non-geographic numbers)

R.Murphy
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:22 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby R.Murphy » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

The zeros are easy to understand if you remember that phone systems have several "levels": When you pick up the handset, you're on the local level. Any number you dial is interpreted as a local number and you only dial the local part. If you want to dial further away, you dial the "trunk code", which is usually 0 to go one level up in the telephone system, and from there you dial the country-wide number. If instead you want to dial still further away, i.e. internationally, you dial another breakout digit (usually another 0) to get to the international level, from where you dial the country code of the destination country. That puts you on the country-wide level in the destination country, so from there you dial the country-wide number without the trunk code. In the analog days, this was quite literally how connections were established. Dialing a 0 before any other number created a physical connection to the exchange one level up.

Suppose you want to call +49(0)151-20676520, which is a German cellphone number. The + means you dial your international access code. In many countries that's 00 (one zero to leave the local level and another zero to leave the national level). Then you dial the country code for Germany, which is 49. Then you don't dial the 0 because you're already on the national level in the German phone system. The remaining digits indicate a mobile phone network (151) and which network operator initially assigned the number. A land line number has the area code between the "optional" 0 and the hyphen. The digits after the hyphen are the local part.

0: up to the national level
0: up to the international level
49: down to the German national level
151: down to the local level

From within Germany, you'd dial 015120676520 or 004915120676520. Either one works because the phone system is all computers now and the call is not routed as an international call even if you dial all the way up and down again. Thus if you put the number down as +4915120676520, you can call it from anywhere in the world because the plus is automatically interpreted as the applicable international access code by modern phones.

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:19 pm UTC

Mathematical Wizards are the best, and only really existing wizards at that.
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

Zylon
Posts: 142
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Zylon » Fri Nov 02, 2012 6:28 pm UTC

Ardee wrote:Hehe, this is actually pretty funny - the joke is the implied comparison to SSNs, which we're told to try and keep private, but have more structure and far less randomness than a phone number meant for sharing

No, that isn't the joke.

The joke is that in the US, when you sign up for a cell number or migrate a land line number to cell, it brings your current area code along with it-- which then stays there for as long as you use that number, no matter where you subsequently move to.

The days of "I've moved, here's my new number" are rapidly coming to a close.

Plutarch
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:29 am UTC
Location: London, UK

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Plutarch » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:13 pm UTC

The fact that the 'callee' pays for calls in the USA is one of the most staggering pieces of cultural information I've ever learned. I must have watched thousands of hours of American TV over the years, and talked to American friends here in the UK, but I never realised this. It seems strange that you can inflict a financial charge on someone else, maybe against their will, by just phoning them up. How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)

R.Murphy
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:22 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby R.Murphy » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:23 pm UTC

"Callee pays" has it's ups and downs and isn't quite as strange as some make it out to be. The rationale behind it was that the caller doesn't choose the more expensive mode of transport, the callee does. So each party pays for their leg of the call. One advantage of this is that, unlike almost everywhere else, calling a cellphone costs the same as calling a landline in the US. You can create almost the same situation anywhere in the world though by forwarding calls inbound to a landline to a cellphone. In that case the caller pays for a landline call and the caller pays for the forwarding.

grafzero
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:47 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby grafzero » Fri Nov 02, 2012 7:39 pm UTC

Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)


You understood correctly - call receiver has to pay for answering the call.
And it is TOTALLY rational.
In other parts of the world there is "termination fee" which is paid by caller operator to callee operator. Those fee can vary between various operators, and they need to negotiate it and so on. The more operators, the more complicated it gets. And I suspect that same name operators in different states would need such fees as well.

Now, in US model, phone operator just bills his clients, and doesn't have to pay to other operators (in great simplification).
Much easier to start a company and to connect calls from different states.

It wouldn't hurt to have such system in Europe instead of roaming (for foreign calls).

chucklesmcgee
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:27 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby chucklesmcgee » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:09 pm UTC

In a US phone number, the next 3 digits after the area code aren't really "random" either. That's the carrier prefixes. A particular city, especially if it's small, might only have a few dozen unique carrier prefixes. Each prefix number is used exclusively by one provider, for one type of service (mobile or landline or some other administrative, emergency services). Some providers will have multiple carrier prefixes as they have many customers.

But it basically means that if you know the city where someone lived when they got their cell phone, not only do you know the area code, but you've also narrowed the next 3 digits down from around 1000 combinations to perhaps 60 or so. If you know the carrier, you're down to maybe 3 or 4.


http://www.fonefinder.net/findome.php?n ... &cityname=

jefnvk
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:01 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby jefnvk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:20 pm UTC

Actually, mine goes:

(XXX) YYY-ZZZZ

Where:
XXX = Broad geographical region I lived in 2004
YYY = Mobile phone operator I had in 2004 (Alltel was 513, Verizon was 430)
ZZZZ = A number I actually got to pick, before they stopped letting you do that

RabbitWho
Posts: 284
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 10:16 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby RabbitWho » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:46 pm UTC

This reminds me of something I was thinking about earlier today

"Mommy why are phone numbers so long?"
"Because a long time ago there used to be many many people living on the planet."



My phone number goes

xxx yyyyyy

where xxx is the mobile phone network I use and yyyyyy is random.

Fun fact: When I got my phone the default pin code was my age + the last 2 digits from the year I was born. I asked the man in the shop if they did this for everyone and he looked at me like I was crazy.

RabbitWho
Posts: 284
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 10:16 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby RabbitWho » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:49 pm UTC

Plutarch wrote:The fact that the 'callee' pays for calls in the USA is one of the most staggering pieces of cultural information I've ever learned. I must have watched thousands of hours of American TV over the years, and talked to American friends here in the UK, but I never realised this. It seems strange that you can inflict a financial charge on someone else, maybe against their will, by just phoning them up. How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)




Your kidding me, that can't possibly be true.. A few months ago I was getting auto-dialer calls every few hours from robots claiming I owed them money, it would have cost me a fortune!

That can't be true because on tv they often say "collect call, do you accept the charges" and if the default system was like this then that wouldn't happen.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

As an American, I find the 0 at the start of British numbers makes most sense if thought of as something like the opposite of the 1 prefixing American long-distance numbers. In America, all calls are assumed to be local calls unless you dial a 1 first and then it knows to expect an area code before the local number. In Britain, all calls are assumed to be be international unless you dial a 0 first, and then it knows not to expect any country code but just a local (British) number.

In this international age, I prefer in formal contexts to always write all numbers as +XXX XXX-XXX-XXXX (with the number of each and the placement of hyphens varying as appropriate by country). So an American number would be +1 555-555-1234, and Americans will recognize that +1 as the 1 you need to dial on landlines before a long-distance number and ignore it as necessary, while international callers will recognize it as the NANP country code. A British number would be +44 1234-567890, and Brits would know that they need to ignore the +44 and dial a 0 instead, while Americans (who ever make international calls) will recognize the +44 as the British country code and know that they have to dial a 011 first before the rest of it. Basically, ignore anything that needs to be dialed specially within any one country; just plus, country code, space, and in-country number with hyphens as appropriate.

But really, planet, the internet manages to get along just fine with an international standard system of address, can't we get ICANN or someone to just define an international standard phone number format? Three digits for country (or maybe continent instead?) and nine digits for national use should be enough for everyone, right? That's over a hundred numbers per person available. Pad existing numbers with zeroes as necessary and call it a day. I'm kind of amazed that not only has the EU not come up with a standard phone numbering plan for Europe, but even within the UK you still have different numbers of digits for different numbers!? This is insane.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

uiri
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:55 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby uiri » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:14 pm UTC

I just wanted to note that the next 3 digits denote a call center exchange. Phone numbers are assigned to carriers in 10,000 blocks (or were, I think they do it in 1000 number blocks since the 90s?) so you can tell what carrier the number was originally on based on the next three digits. If you live in a locality with only one telecom, then the first six digits will be able to tell you if the person is a local. I'm surprised at this comic, since generally up here (within the NANP, in Canada), we're allowed to choose the last four digits of the phone number, subject to availability within the exchange, of course.
Proud User of Debian

mcdigman
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby mcdigman » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:33 pm UTC

This is true for me as well, although I remember choosing the last 4 digits from a list of like 100 numbers that weren't allocated in the block from the second triplet, so they aren't strictly random, or at least they weren't then.

I'm on a college campus, so I am usually more surprised when someone gives me a number that actually is from this area code. The only people who do are the handful who live here and international students.

das7002
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby das7002 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

Plutarch wrote:How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)


Don't answer the phone then, you don't get charged if you don't answer...

A lot of carriers are going to unlimited calling anyway and have super cheap plans with limited calling if you are like me and don't talk very much.

And honestly, I think this ends up working better anyway when you look at just about any European country and see what the difference between a landline and a mobile phone cost to call...

Image

10-21 cents a minute to call a mobile number in the UK compared to the practically free 2 cents a minute for landlines. That's just insane to me...

In the US even if you added the charges up on both sides it wouldn't be 21 cents a minute most of the time... Hell even the expensive pay per minute prepaid phones don't really hit 10 cents a minute anymore.


You may think it's crazy that the callee pays to receive any calls (that they answer, unanswered are not charged) but most people in the US think it's ridiculous that you have to pay 5-10x as much to call a cell phone in the UK...

Plutarch
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:29 am UTC
Location: London, UK

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Plutarch » Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:59 pm UTC

das7002 wrote:
Plutarch wrote:How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)


Don't answer the phone then, you don't get charged if you don't answer...

A lot of carriers are going to unlimited calling anyway and have super cheap plans with limited calling if you are like me and don't talk very much.

And honestly, I think this ends up working better anyway when you look at just about any European country and see what the difference between a landline and a mobile phone cost to call...

...

10-21 cents a minute to call a mobile number in the UK compared to the practically free 2 cents a minute for landlines. That's just insane to me...

In the US even if you added the charges up on both sides it wouldn't be 21 cents a minute most of the time... Hell even the expensive pay per minute prepaid phones don't really hit 10 cents a minute anymore.


You may think it's crazy that the callee pays to receive any calls (that they answer, unanswered are not charged) but most people in the US think it's ridiculous that you have to pay 5-10x as much to call a cell phone in the UK...


I doubt very much that 'most people in the US' think anything of the sort, because most people in the US will, quite reasonably, neither know nor care about phone charges in the UK.

Get off your high horse. I asked a reasonable question and I'm not interested in having an argument about who's phone system is better or cheaper.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:06 pm UTC

Actually, that is the answer to your question, although hidden.

Cell phones are receiver-pays in the US because the original users were wealthy people who wanted people to be able to call them while they were away from their desk, and having the caller pay exorbitant fees to call them while they were mobile would undermine the usefulness of that (people would just wait until you got back to your desk and got the message rather than pay mobile-calling fees even worse than long-distance fees). So the cell users footed the bill so that their cell phones would actually be useful to them, and that's carried on since then.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

das7002
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby das7002 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

Plutarch wrote:
I doubt very much that 'most people in the US' think anything of the sort, because most people in the US will, quite reasonably, neither know nor care about phone charges in the UK.

Get off your high horse. I asked a reasonable question and I'm not interested in having an argument about who's phone system is better or cheaper.


And I'm not allowed to say that I think the UK system seems ridiculous to me and many other people who do international calls from the US? Why don't you get off your high horse...

User avatar
Reka
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:21 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Reka » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:46 pm UTC

Plutarch wrote:The fact that the 'callee' pays for calls in the USA is one of the most staggering pieces of cultural information I've ever learned. I must have watched thousands of hours of American TV over the years, and talked to American friends here in the UK, but I never realised this. It seems strange that you can inflict a financial charge on someone else, maybe against their will, by just phoning them up. How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)


You've partially misunderstood:

- If a landline calls a landline, caller pays.
- If a mobile calls a landline, caller pays.
- If a landline calls a mobile, both caller and callee pay: caller pays the same as if they'd called a landline, and callee pays or uses up minutes or whatever, depending on their plan.
- If a mobile calls a mobile, both caller and callee pay, unless they both have the same carrier and said carrier has free mobile-to-mobile calling.

speising
Posts: 2353
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby speising » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:51 pm UTC

Ah, that's a logical conclusion then from the fact that you can't distinguish whether you call a landline or mobile.

Still, not being able to recognize from the number if it makes sense to send a text message is awkward.

das7002
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby das7002 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:08 pm UTC

speising wrote:Ah, that's a logical conclusion then from the fact that you can't distinguish whether you call a landline or mobile.

Still, not being able to recognize from the number if it makes sense to send a text message is awkward.



Not really... A lot of carriers will send a message back to you if it can't route the message anywhere.

Bounty
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Bounty » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:11 pm UTC

I guess once upon a time mobiles were "callee pays", but most folks I know are either unlimited now, or have so many minutes that they rarely ever use them all. You do of course still get the occasional urban horror story "teen daughter gets first cell, runs up $1000 in text and data the first month." but those are getting rare as well.

As for the AreaCode being where you live, when my wife and I got our first family plan, I got a number in the 209, and she got one in the 619, because we could call each other for free, and that way both of our parents had a 'local' number for us that was free for them to call.

On the subject of calls, way back in the day, when BBS's were were you went on your 14.4 modem, a 'local' call in this part of the world was defined as "to a sub station within 25 miles of your substation." so interestingly the town to the north of us, which was almost 30 miles away, was a free call, but the two towns just 10 and 15 miles away were long distance (with a per minute charge) because of where the relative substations were. Wife's family ran up a $700 phone bill calling AOL, because they didn't realize the number it was dialing was long distance (but still in the area code).

User avatar
bmonk
Posts: 662
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:14 pm UTC
Location: Schitzoed in the OTT between the 2100s and the late 900s. Hoping for singularity.

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby bmonk » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:23 pm UTC

AvatarIII wrote:
xorsyst wrote:
penguinoid wrote:I always wonder why the US doesn't use a non-geographic area code for mobile phones. It's common in most other countries that I know of (eg, UK 07, France 06 & 07, Australia 04 ...). Probably a good reason for this, but I've never heard it.


I'm pretty sure that's because the US uses callee-pays, so the call is charged as for a call to a landline in the same area code and the callee pays any upcharge for the mobile; whereas in Europe it tends to be caller-pays, ie the caller pays a higher rate for the call to a mobile.


what a crazy system. Do you also pay for the cost of stamps to receive letters? :D

No--but then the US Post Office is going bankrupt. Not many cell phone companies seem to be...
Having become a Wizard on n.p. 2183, the Yellow Piggy retroactively appointed his honorable self a Temporal Wizardly Piggy on n.p.1488, not to be effective until n.p. 2183, thereby avoiding a partial temporal paradox. Since he couldn't afford two philosophical PhDs to rule on the title.

jayem
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:37 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby jayem » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:26 pm UTC

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

As an American, I find the 0 at the start of British numbers makes most sense if thought of as something like the opposite of the 1 prefixing American long-distance numbers. In America, all calls are assumed to be local calls unless you dial a 1 first and then it knows to expect an area code before the local number. In Britain, all calls are assumed to be be international unless you dial a 0 first, and then it knows not to expect any country code but just a local (British) number.

Bizarely it's actually the equivelent of the American "1" (assuming I understand your post).

In Britain, all calls are assumed to be very local,
so e.g. 123456 will call a house near the exchange (if I was calling from Bolton, it would be in Bolton, if Aberdeen in Aberdeen, etc...).

A 0 in front says you want to go up a level to call a different exchange.
so 0-1204 123456 will go to the national-trunk exchange, back down to Bolton and then to the house
(this number will go to the same house wherever you call it in Britain, and as such is what is normally given. If expecting local calls the first part is often put in brackets to show it being possibly unneccessary)

A second 0 takes you up a level further to call a country.
If the whole world used the British system* then anywhere in the world you could dial
0044 1204 123456 would take you up to the international exchange, then to Britain, Bolton and the house.
But the world doesn't, and of course people needing this number are not in Britain, so the ++44 is used because people in the US would then have to dial 1? 44 1204 123456, in France it used to be different again 1944... (but it works throughout Europe).

It's a bit messier in reality.

*personally of the two I think 00(nationalcode)(national system) would work a lot better as a world-wide standard. The American one only makes sense if you own the first prefix (which you do).

das7002
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby das7002 » Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:31 pm UTC

bmonk wrote:No--but then the US Post Office is going bankrupt. Not many cell phone companies seem to be...


Their budget crisis is highly artificial...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USPS#Congressional_role

Plutarch
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:29 am UTC
Location: London, UK

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Plutarch » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:11 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Actually, that is the answer to your question, although hidden.

Cell phones are receiver-pays in the US because the original users were wealthy people who wanted people to be able to call them while they were away from their desk, and having the caller pay exorbitant fees to call them while they were mobile would undermine the usefulness of that (people would just wait until you got back to your desk and got the message rather than pay mobile-calling fees even worse than long-distance fees). So the cell users footed the bill so that their cell phones would actually be useful to them, and that's carried on since then.


OK, I see. That does make sense. I wonder if that originally applied in other places, and if so, why it did or didn't continue the same?

das7002
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:45 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby das7002 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:13 am UTC

Plutarch wrote:
OK, I see. That does make sense. I wonder if that originally applied in other places, and if so, why it did or didn't continue the same?



It sort of does in the end... I always see Europeans saying how much cheaper their cell phone bills are but never mention how much more it costs the caller to call them...
So partly due to much smaller country sizes and not having to pay for incoming calls on cell phones contribute you lower subscription fees.
In the end it pretty much all balances out (roughly) even though the means to get to that point is different...

Not only cell phones in the US are charged for callee though... Many VoIP services charge per minute whether it is incoming or outgoing. Hell, even AT&T has been switching away from the old POTS to VoIP, you have to actually dig and try to find an actual landline with them...

User avatar
Carlington
Posts: 1588
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:46 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia.

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Carlington » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:27 am UTC

The Australian system is competely different again. In all cases except for collect calls, reverse charge calling, and calling a premium service, the caller pays. Numbers are set up as follows:
+61 is the international code, only need this if you're calling into Australia from elsewhere. In this case, dial 0061(STD code, without the leading 0)(8 digit phone number)
Otherwise:
There are STD codes which are set up geographically. These almost always follow state borders, but there are a couple of exceptions. These codes are:
02 for New South Wales and the ACT
03 for Victoria and Tasmania
07 for Queensland; and
08 for South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

If you're calling someone in the same STD region, you don't need these. There's also an 04 prefix for mobile phones, and you always need to dial it.

The next two digits are smaller geographical areas, but most people only memorise these for the area they live in, and they're always the same. My home town was 49 or 40, for new numbers. The two digits after that are a smaller area again, my suburb was 52. Then there are 4 randomly assigned digits. However, you can choose to take your number with you, when you move house. The last 8 digits are the bare minimum to make a local call. Long distance or mobile calls take 10 digits, and international calls take 13.

This system just seems to make sense, to me. I can't imagine using a system so seemingly arbitrary as the one for the UK or US.
Kewangji: Posdy zwei tosdy osdy oady. Bork bork bork, hoppity syphilis bork.

Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
doogly: Hands waving furiously.

Please use he/him/his pronouns when referring to me.

Istaro
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:00 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Istaro » Sat Nov 03, 2012 3:55 am UTC

penguinoid wrote:I always wonder why the US doesn't use a non-geographic area code for mobile phones. It's common in most other countries that I know of (eg, UK 07, France 06 & 07, Australia 04 ...). Probably a good reason for this, but I've never heard it.


At least in Japan, which has several cell-phone-specific area codes, many companies use that fact to discriminate against people who've gone cell-only and don't have landlines. I'm constantly having to borrow older relatives' landline numbers to get around "your phone number starts with 080? Sorry, no bank account/credit card/etc. for you". I wish they used the U.S. system where you can't tell (ok, "it's less trivial to determine") whether a given number is mobile or not just from the number.

User avatar
Carlington
Posts: 1588
Joined: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:46 am UTC
Location: Sydney, Australia.

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Carlington » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:19 am UTC

Istaro wrote:
penguinoid wrote:I always wonder why the US doesn't use a non-geographic area code for mobile phones. It's common in most other countries that I know of (eg, UK 07, France 06 & 07, Australia 04 ...). Probably a good reason for this, but I've never heard it.


At least in Japan, which has several cell-phone-specific area codes, many companies use that fact to discriminate against people who've gone cell-only and don't have landlines. I'm constantly having to borrow older relatives' landline numbers to get around "your phone number starts with 080? Sorry, no bank account/credit card/etc. for you". I wish they used the U.S. system where you can't tell (ok, "it's less trivial to determine") whether a given number is mobile or not just from the number.

That sounds ridiculous, isn't there some sort of legislation to say you can't discriminate? If it's that common of a problem, why does nobody fix it?
Kewangji: Posdy zwei tosdy osdy oady. Bork bork bork, hoppity syphilis bork.

Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
doogly: Hands waving furiously.

Please use he/him/his pronouns when referring to me.

Istaro
Posts: 101
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:00 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Istaro » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:43 am UTC

Carlington wrote:
Istaro wrote:
penguinoid wrote:I always wonder why the US doesn't use a non-geographic area code for mobile phones. It's common in most other countries that I know of (eg, UK 07, France 06 & 07, Australia 04 ...). Probably a good reason for this, but I've never heard it.


At least in Japan, which has several cell-phone-specific area codes, many companies use that fact to discriminate against people who've gone cell-only and don't have landlines. I'm constantly having to borrow older relatives' landline numbers to get around "your phone number starts with 080? Sorry, no bank account/credit card/etc. for you". I wish they used the U.S. system where you can't tell (ok, "it's less trivial to determine") whether a given number is mobile or not just from the number.

That sounds ridiculous, isn't there some sort of legislation to say you can't discriminate? If it's that common of a problem, why does nobody fix it?


I'd say it's a problem that's only just starting to emerge as people go mobile-only. I haven't had a landline in ten years, but I think the percentage of households that are mobile-only is still very low, at least here. If it increases dramatically, even among older generations (which policymakers generally belong to), there might be some legislation along those lines, but not anytime soon.

Grendel
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:38 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Grendel » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:48 am UTC

To get away from the politics and back to the actual comic for a moment:

Am I a wizard? Once upon a time, both of my parents worked for the local telco, so we always had a custom phone # based either our address where such a thing was relevant, or our PO box when in tiny places.

Decades later, I can still manipulate the local telco into giving me a # based on certain physical conditions. My current # barring area code draws a nice circle in one corner of the keypad, making dialing with one thumb spectacularly easy.

jaklumen
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:18 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby jaklumen » Sat Nov 03, 2012 4:49 am UTC

chucklesmcgee wrote:In a US phone number, the next 3 digits after the area code aren't really "random" either. That's the carrier prefixes. A particular city, especially if it's small, might only have a few dozen unique carrier prefixes. Each prefix number is used exclusively by one provider, for one type of service (mobile or landline or some other administrative, emergency services). Some providers will have multiple carrier prefixes as they have many customers.


Bingo. I'm in an "emerging area" and I could geographically place a telephone number (even to neighborhood within a city), just by what the carrier prefix was. We've had only ONE landline phone carrier here at a time (GTE, Verizon, Frontier), and so those prefixes stayed fairly consistent although it's not been as easy in recent years. (Prefixes are still more or less the same but geographical placement has started to get harder.) I can't do that with cell/mobile prefixes but again the local carriers have been few enough that most local numbers I can tell are cellular just by that three-digit prefix.

User avatar
SecondTalon
SexyTalon
Posts: 26519
Joined: Sat May 05, 2007 2:10 pm UTC
Location: Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Mars. HA!
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:07 am UTC

gordo wrote:I understand that the USA differs from Europe in that states are not the same as countries (but could be in terms of size...), and thus things were organized differently: people move more easily from one state to the next, while Europeans don't move that quickly from one country to the next. Hence, there is a larger need for long-distance calling in the USA than there is in Europe.

Here in The Netherlands, the only time I pay to receive a call is when I'm abroad carrying my cell phone. Then the caller pays as if they were calling me in my home country, and I pay for the connection across the border (at least, that's how it works for me; I don't know if this is universal). If I were to move permanently to another country, I would get a contract with a new provider in said country, but I realize this isn't really an option in the USA when you'd move to another state.

Never would have guessed a discussion about cell phone number could carry on so long...

In many ways. As the saying goes, Americans think 200 years is a long time. Europeans think 200 miles is a long distance. Long distance for me,growing up, was roughly everywhere that could be reached in about 40 minutes or less, or 30 miles or so.. Everything else was long distance.

Being rural, we'd regularly drive 60+ miles to get to a place with better shopping than a hardware store and a Wal-Mart. From what most Europeans seem to say, a 60-100 mile trip on a whim is unfathomable. It's fairly regular in the US. Moving away from home for the first time often means moving into the No-Visit radius (that is, far enough from home that your parents can't just pop in whenever, but close enough that going to see them isn't a costly pain in the ass). This radius varies, but is roughly 2-4 hours travel, which is 100 to 250 miles. Which isn't a big deal. I regulaly (every few months, more often this time of year) drive about 200 miles to go visit my mother.

I hardly consider anything under 200 miles much of a trip.

But that may be more of a growing up rural thing, as many of my city friends complain about a 45 minute drive to the next town over.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

User avatar
Ool
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 11:19 am UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Ool » Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:08 pm UTC

Last time I was in the US my German cell phone worked. Meaning I was able to call people that I had arrived from my German phone number while I was standing in front of their house in the middle of the US.

Now the roaming fees were €1.50 a minute, so I got myself a prepaid card with an American number the next day.

But it makes you wonder how long it's going to be until there are international flat rates and people can just keep their phone numbers from the old country...

User avatar
WanderingLinguist
Posts: 237
Joined: Tue May 22, 2012 5:14 pm UTC
Location: Seoul
Contact:

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby WanderingLinguist » Sat Nov 03, 2012 1:01 pm UTC

RabbitWho wrote:
Plutarch wrote:The fact that the 'callee' pays for calls in the USA is one of the most staggering pieces of cultural information I've ever learned. I must have watched thousands of hours of American TV over the years, and talked to American friends here in the UK, but I never realised this. It seems strange that you can inflict a financial charge on someone else, maybe against their will, by just phoning them up. How do people feel about this? Is there some rationale behind it? Some good reason for it that I'm not understanding? (Or have I misunderstood somehow, and the person who receives the call doesn't really pay for it?)




Your kidding me, that can't possibly be true.. A few months ago I was getting auto-dialer calls every few hours from robots claiming I owed them money, it would have cost me a fortune!

That can't be true because on tv they often say "collect call, do you accept the charges" and if the default system was like this then that wouldn't happen.


It's totally true, but it depends on your plan. If you have a fixed number of minutes on your plan before you start paying, then incoming calls come off those minutes first. If you have an unlimited plan, then obviously you don't pay (neither does the caller, beyond what they would normally pay for a call to a non-cell number). So if you were within your minutes (or have an unlimited plan) than the auto-dialer calls wouldn't have cost you anything. But yes, auto-dialers CAN cost you a lot of money, which is why in the US it's quite common not to answer if you're down to your last few minutes on your plan and you don't recognize the number.

As for collect call, that's different: That means the person receiving the call pays ALL charges, not just the cell phone connection charge. That's, for example, if you want to use a public pay phone but don't have any money. Do people really make collect calls much these days?

Symbiote
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Symbiote » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:58 pm UTC

I have only one thing to add:

A global standard for number length wouldn't make sense, as countries have different populations. I know someone on St Helena, whose number is like 1234, i.e. to call her I dial +290 1234. That's sufficient for the island's population. I have some friends from Luxembourg, and their numbers are short too (although not so short, as the country is large enough to historically have had several telephone exchanges).

Also, in case anyone doesn't know, to input a '+' on a mobile phone you can usually hold down the '0' button. (Presumably originating from the normal European international prefix, 00.) I put all numbers into my phone this way, since then I can still call them when I'm abroad.

hexalm
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:39 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby hexalm » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:35 pm UTC

bmonk wrote:
AvatarIII wrote:what a crazy system. Do you also pay for the cost of stamps to receive letters? :D

No--but then the US Post Office is going bankrupt. Not many cell phone companies seem to be...


On the other hand, I'm not aware of any cell phone companies under a federal mandate to pre-fund the retirement benefits of all of their employees (come to think of it, nobody else does that because it's insane!)

Rilian
Posts: 496
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:33 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Rilian » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:56 pm UTC

I got a new number last year.
And I'm probably going to get a new one again this year.
And then everyone will think I'm from arkanbutt.
And I'm -2.

Rilian
Posts: 496
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:33 pm UTC

Re: 1129: "Cell Number"

Postby Rilian » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:59 pm UTC

speising wrote:Ah, that's a logical conclusion then from the fact that you can't distinguish whether you call a landline or mobile.

Still, not being able to recognize from the number if it makes sense to send a text message is awkward.

Have you ever gotten a message on your answer machine that's all like "You have a text message, call this number to listen to it"? And then I called that number and it was just nonsense. Was that spam? I don't know.
And I'm -2.


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: elasto, Majestic-12 [Bot] and 37 guests