Top 10 Facts about Toll-Free Phone Numbers

Join us as we uncover the Top 10 Facts You Should Know about Toll-Free DIDs. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be purchasing and enjoying your 25¢ Toll-Free DIDs. But before we dive into the Top 10 Facts, let’s cover the basics.

What does toll-free mean on caller ID?

What exactly is a toll-free call, and how does it work? Simply said, it means the recipient of the call pays for any long-distance calling costs rather than the person who initiated it. Toll-free calls are made to specific numbers with three-digit area codes that are assigned at random. 800 numbers are the most frequent (and the first to be assigned) toll-free area codes, but 888 and 877 numbers have also been used.

What are DIDs in Telecom?

When a telephone service provider connects a block of numbers to your company’s Private Branch Exchange (PBX), it is known as Direct Inward Dialing (DID) (also called DID). It allows companies to establish virtual phone numbers that bypass the main reception lines and go straight to a desk extension or group of extensions.


1. Do toll free numbers have caller ID? Toll-Free numbers cannot be used as a numerical Caller ID (without using the RPID field and a valid local number).

  • Because Toll-Free numbers are routed to Resporgs in lieu of an LEC they do not have a geographical location that they can be associated with. So, toll free number caller ID is not a valid representation of where the call is coming from.


2. Toll-Free numbers cannot maintain CNAM Storage.

  • Toll-Free numbers were originally designed to be used as numbers to be called  not called from. Because of this they cannot be used with outbound Caller ID Names.


3. Toll-Free numbers are not bound to a geographical location.

  • Because Toll-Free numbers do not have Local Routing Numbers they could only be used via the RPID ID field for numerical Caller IDs. Using this without these changes provides little-to-no routing information for your provider.


4. Due to facts one and three, 911 calls with Toll-Free numbers are difficult at best. Even with the suggested changes.

  • 911 relies on the locale of the source number to route the calls to the appropriate emergency provider. Using a Toll-Free number would be ill-advised. With the RPID changes this can still be problematic as they would still be seeing that Toll-Free number.


5. Toll-Free numbers are managed using a system called SMS/800.

  • Unlike local numbers Toll-Free numbers do not use NANPA and instead use SMS/800 to manage the inventory and acquisition of these.


6. Toll-Free numbers were not portable until 1981.

  • Toll-Free numbers were initially assigned to specific providers and as such could not be moved. This changed when the system was reworked in 1981 to SMS/800.


7. Prior to the current system Toll-Free numbers used a system called the Zenith number.

  • Zenith Numbers were the precursor to Toll-Free service and were routed by reaching an operator and providing a specific Zenith to this operator.


8. While Toll-Free numbers use the 8XX scheme for numbering, 811 is used strictly for 3 digit dialing in the United States.

  • 811 is used in the US specifically to help locate wires and pipes prior to digging. Because of this the NPA 811 is not used with Toll-Free.


9. While Toll-Free numbers are generally Toll-Free, there is the potential to be billed for these calls if using a mobile/cell number.

  • Because some providers charge by usage instead of by number called it is possible to be billed for Toll-Free calls.


10. The Precursor to the modern automated Toll-Free system was developed in 1966 by AT&T.

  • This is when the first automated Toll-Free service was released. Prior to this you had to work with an operator.


Now that you know the Top 10 Facts about Toll-Free Phone Numbers and Toll Free Call ID you can use this information to make an informed decision on your next telecommunications system purchase.

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