[VoiceOps] [External] Re: 9-8-8 dialing when an outside line access code (9) is being used

Nathan Anderson nathana at fsr.com
Mon Jul 18 18:45:52 EDT 2022

Jay Hennigan wrote:

> Kinda, sorta. 7-digit local dialing is supposed to have been phased out, 
> with all NANP numbers represented as 1+NPA-NXX-XXXX.

Whathuh?  Maybe I misunderstand you, but assuming not & in my
experience, copper POTS trunks in NANP areas with mandatory *10* digit
dialing (which should be virtually everywhere by this point) and where
long-distance billing is still a thing not only allow local calls to be
dialed without the 1 prefix, but even mandate it.  Indeed, the old
convention of "dialing a 1 implicitly means domestic long-distance" is
still in full force on many POTS subscriber lines nationwide: if you
try to dial a local number with a 1, the call won't be connected &
instead you'll get back SIT + intercept message instructing you to
re-dial *without* the 1.  (And likewise dialing a long-distance call as
10-digits will present intercept with instructions to re-dial *with*
the 1.)

This convention is handy for those who still get charged for
long-distance, as you can't accidentally dial long-distance unknowingly
and get surprised by extra charges: the 1 is essentially you approving
of the charges that you know you'll incur if the call goes through.
That said, *we* don't distinguish between or charge our customers
differently for local / intra-LATA / long-distance, so we do set things
up for them such that any domestic call will connect either with or
without the 1 as a convenience (much like most mobiles allow
for)...especially since many of them are coming to us *from* old POTS
trunks, and have that dialing habit very much ingrained.

But 10-digit dialing (vs. 11-digit) is absolutely a thing.  And since
even intra-LATA long-distance has itself existed for decades, and
always required dialing the full 11 digits even if the destination
number is in the same NPA as the caller's, the only actual change was
going from 7 to 10 digits for local calls.

> On 7/18/22 08:36, Carlos Alvarez wrote:
> > OP makes his own points against it, and none for.  As we add more and 
> > more short numbers and possibly NPAs, the 9 becomes more problematic.  
> > And is there really a switch out there in use today that needs it?
> Pretty much any conventional PBX where you have conventional phones and 
> don't want a timeout. Even most SIP phones don't have a SEND button even 
> though the INVITE is en-banc under the hood, so you need a dialplan with 
> a timeout.
> IMHO, 9-8-8 is a boneheaded idea as it breaks NANP and causes ambiguity. 
> In addition now that it's law look for all kinds of other mandated 
> service codes. Lost your cat, dial 9-7-7. Need a jump start, 9-6-6, 
> Alcoholics Anonymous 9-5-5, etc.

Exactly & here we are in complete agreement.  Carlos seems to be
approaching this discussion from a perspective where modern endpoints
are ubiquitous, which is fine and all, but it's simply not reality.
The number of old key systems and PBXes out in the wild that are still
in active use is not inconsequential and cannot be ignored.  We
routinely come in to a new customer's facilities *only* to replace
existing dialtone, because all they are after is better pricing /
better support / etc. and their existing phone system "still works fine
and we have no desire to forklift it out at present,
thank-you-very-much".  This often means handing off to it via
multi-port ATA or (best-case but rare) PRI.  (And just between you and
me, these customers are actually my favorite, since the support load is
much reduced: Need something changed or fixed on your PBX?  Then call
your phone system guy.  Not our problem.  Also, no lengthy
re-training/re-learning process, since everything continues to work the
same way that they're already used to.  Hook service up, port numbers
over, start billing.)
Carlos Alvarez wrote:

> Our user instructions have been telling them to dial like a cell phone
> for over ten years.  So they do have a defacto send button; dial and
> then pick up the handset or press the speaker or headset button.
> Acceptance and adoption has been great.  It was harder to get people to
> do this in 2005, but everyone gets it now.

Hah well (genuinely) good for you.  IME it is hard to break people of
some of these habits.  And without the outside line prefix, those who
insist on picking up the handset first to get the (simulated) dialtone
have to face the interminable dialing timeouts.  I suppose you just
take the position that if they want to avoid that, it's a simple matter
of being willing to change how one does things, and that's how you've
re-trained end users, but I guess we just tend to get the stubborn

Most IP handsets will allow you to craft a digit map that inserts
digits before the INVITE is sent to the PBX.  So to achieve the "best
of both worlds", in instances where we install IP handsets, we usually
continue to use 9 as outside line prefix, but have the phone insert the
9 for the user if the NANP number is pre-dialed before user picks up
the handset.  That way, you still get quick intercom dialing for those
who insist on picking up the handset first, but anybody who is willing
to change their habits automatically receives the benefit of not having
to dial the 9 anymore.

Anyway.  All this to say that offering 988 (vs. 9-988) on just about
any modern system, with or without an outside line prefix, is no
problem.  But doing so without a lengthy dialing timeout for those
users who insist on picking up the handset first is not practical,
given the digits that overlap with valid NPAs.  But I don't really see
this as a problem, since waiting a few extra seconds for a 988 call to
connect is not in the same league as waiting for a 911 connection.

-- Nathan

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