enterprise calling for practically half a century. In recent times, inhabitants progress and elevated demand has spawned new toll-free prefixes, together with 888, 877, 866 and — most just lately — 855. The unique 1-800 number nonetheless, is the oldest and most coveted number, and the number most carefully related to toll-free calling.
The Early Days of 800 Numbers
AT&T introduced the primary toll-free number, starting with the prefix "800", in 1967. Earlier than this innovation, prospects dialing a enterprise needed to name acquire, and could not be patched by means of till the enterprise assured cost for the incoming name. Not solely was the collect-call system a monetary burden, but it surely introduced a labor hurdle as properly, since human operators needed to bodily obtain and route incoming calls. Initially, motels and car-rental providers — which acquired a major quantity of requires reservations of rooms and automobiles — have been the first holders of 800 numbers.
A New Period of Expanded Attain
AT&T maintained a monopoly on all 800 numbers — typically charging exorbitant costs for them — till 1984. In that yr, a federal choose ordered that the "Ma Bell" monopoly be break up into many regional corporations. With new competitors got here a drastic drop in costs. Out of the blue, even smaller corporations may — and did — use toll-free 800 numbers for his or her enterprise's telecommunication wants. A sole proprietor with a basement enterprise may now have the identical form of cellphone number as an elite Fortune 500 firm.