all you need to know about
- Telephone History Series
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- History of Phone Cards
- The Calling Card Industry
- Calling Card Types
- Phone Card Charges
- Phone Card Billing
- Phone Card Pitfalls
- Card Loss and Theft
- Collecting Phone Cards
- Phone Card Scams
- Prepaid Phone Cards
- International Phone Cards
- Instant PINS
- Card Terminology

- Mobile Telephone History
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Card Terminology (Phone Card Glossary)
Access gateway
Equipment used to provide the electronic "bridge" from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to an Internet protocol (IP) network.
Account Codes
Also known as Project Codes or Bill-Back Codes. Account Codes are additional digits dialed by the calling party that provide information about the call. Typically used by hourly professionals (accountants, lawyers, etc.) to track and bill clients, projects, etc.
A person or organization that acts on behalf of another. In the telecommunications industry, Agents typically are independent individuals or companies that market the services of a carrier as if they were employees of that carrier.
Alternate Access
A form of local access where the provider is not the LEC, but is authorized or permitted to provide such service.
Alternate Access Carriers
Local exchange carriers in direct competition with the RBOCs. Normally found only in the larger metropolitan areas. Examples are Teleport and Metropolitan Fiber Systems.
Alternative Operator
Services Operator services provided by a company other than a LECRBOC or AT&T that is authorized to provide such service.
See Automatic Number Identification.
Process of verifying with certainty the identity of a valid subscriber or ITSP through the use of a unique user identification number, password or other method (i.e., verifying that customers are who they say they are).
Process of allowing a Subscriber or ITSP a certain monetary credit or time amount of IP Telephony. Authorization is the granting of permission to provide users the service they are requesting.
Authorization Number
same as PIN.
Automatic Number Identification Originating Number
(1) The number associated with the telephone station(s) from which switched calls are originated (or terminated).
(2) A software feature associated with Feature Group D (and optional on Feature Group B) circuits. ANI provides the originating local telephone number of the calling party. This information is transmitted as part of the digit stream in the signalling protocol, and included in the Call Detail Record for billing purposes.
(3) ANI may also be used to refer to any phone number.
- Billing Account Number Used by telephone companies to designate a billing account, i.e., a customer or customer location that receives a bill. A customer may have any number of BANs.
Banded Rates
Tariffed rates which may be changed by the carrier within a specified range. Frequently, state commissions require notice to the commission prior to each change. Banded rates are being used less frequently today.
Billing Account Number
- BAN Used by telephone companies to designate a customer or customer location that will be billed. A single customer may have multiple billing accounts.
A billing option associated with Operator Assisted calls that allows the calling party to bill a call to their hotel room. With this option, the carrier is required to notify the hotel, upon completion of the call, of the time and charges.
An interactive signal that prompts the originating end user to enter additional information. For example: 1010555 Bong (Enter Destination) Bong (Enter Billing information) Also used to denote a sucharge particularly in the calling card industry.
- Billing Telephone Number The phone number associated, for billing purposes, with the Working Phone Number.
Access an IEC other than the customer's Equal Access carrier by dialing 10+CIC Code.(e.g. Bypass to WorldCom by dialing "1010555"). See Walkthrough, CIC Code
Call Data Record (CDR)
Record of a placed call. A CDR includes the time the call was placed and the duration of the call.
Calling Card
A telecommunication credit card with an AuthCode for using a long distance carrier when the customer is away from their home or office (ANI).
Same as a phone card or calling card.
A telecommunications provider which owns switch equipment.
Carrier Identification Code - CIC
A three digit number used with Feature Groups B and D to access a particular IEC's switched services from a local exchange line. One or more CIC codes are assigned to each carrier. (i.e. there may be multiple CICs per ACNA). See Bypass
Casual Calling
Allow any ANI (including undefined ANIs) to access a given carrier. For example, if the originator is calling from a non-coin phone, they may dial 1010555+destination number and have the call routed through WorldCom and billed to the originating phone
Casual Customer
Any person or organization that dials any CIC Code. (Not necessary to presubscribe to the carrier.)
Class of Service - COS
A special limitation on what numbers can and cannot be called. International, 809, 809 + Canada, 48 contiguous states, etc.
Situation where the system cuts off the first part of the first word in a sentence. (Not to be confused with choppiness -- which is a packet loss).
Customer Owned Coin Operated Telephone
Coin Phone
A coin-operated pay phone with restricted access to some services (e.g. International calling). Coin phones have subclasses of Public, Semi Public, and Private.
A call that is paid for by the receiving/destination phone number. Requires approval/authorization of the person being called.
Common Carrier
A carrier that holds itself out as serving the public (or a segment thereof) indifferently (i.e., without regard to the identity of the customer and without undue discrimination). Common carriers may vary rates based on special considerations and may in fact serve only a small fraction of the general public.
Connection Fee
A fee charged on every call that is made.
A legally-binding agreement between a vendor and a customer to provide Products, Services or Features in a specified quantity and quality, for a specified price, during a specified period of time.
Contract Tariffs
Services and rates based on contracts negotiated with individual customers, but theoretically available to all customers. AT&T has filed several hundred contract tariffs.
Country Code
Two or three digit codes used for International calls outside of the North American Numbering Plan area codes. Dial: 011 + country code + city code + local phone number) (e.g. "011 + 91 + 22 + 123- 4567" 91 = India, 22 = Bombay)
Customizable PIN
A PIN that gives you the ability to choose the specific numbers or character sequence.
Cut-Through Dialing
"10"+CIC+" #" followed by an AuthCode for IntraLATA calls.
DA - Directory Assistance
Phone Number Lookup Service
DAL - Dedicated Access Line
A non-switched circuit from the customer to a carrier.
DDD - Direct Distance Dialing
Any switched telecommunication service (like 1+, 0++, etc.) that allows a call originator to place long distance calls directly to telephones outside the local service area without an operator.
A request to terminate service (or the process of terminating service)
Default Carrier
Your regular Dial-1 carrier. Call 1-700-555-4141 to find your default carrier.
Dial To Place
A Call On A Switched Network. The term "dial" is obsolete - based on rotary dial phones and electromechanical relay switches (which are nearly non-existent in modern telephone systems.) Touch Tone service recognizes dual tones that are generated as each telephone key is pressed. Where Touch Tone service is not available, telephones and switches electronically "pulse" signals that emulate the older rotary dial telephones. The terms "place" a call or "originate" a call are more accurate than "dial".
Dial Tone
Ready To Place/Originate A Call. When the off hook indication is received at a central office, a dial tone signal is sent to the originating caller on a switched network to indicate that the switch is ready to accept a number.
Equipment that pulses out a standard dial protocol signal.
A device or method that uses discrete variations in voltage, frequency, amplitude, location, etc. to encode, process, or carry binary (zero or one) signals for sound, video, computer data or other information. For example, a digital clock displays the time as discrete numeric values, rather than angular displacement of analog hands. Digital communications technology generally permits higher speeds of transmission with a lower error rate than can be achieved with analog technology. When analog signals are received and amplified at each repeater station, any noise is also amplified. A digital signal, however, is detected and regenerated (not amplified). Unlike amplification, any noise (less than a valid signal) is eliminated by digital regeneration.
Directory Assistance - DA
An information service whereby operators assist customers in obtaining the telephone number(s) they wish to call.
Equal Access
(AT&T Divestiture - 1982 Modified Final Judgement) The provision of one-plus capability to interLATA competitors of AT&T. Customers should be able to reach the carrier of their choice by dialing 1+ the long-distance number. The MFJ and the FCC require local exchange carriers to provide equal access (most central offices now have this capability). Equal Access may also refer to a more generic concept under which the BOCs must provide access services to AT&T's competitors that are equivalent to those provided to AT&T.
FCC - Federal Communications Commission
Regulates interstate communications: licenses, rates, tariffs, standards, limitations, etc. Appointed by U.S. President .Web Site =
Device that connects two different kinds of networks and performs the translations required for them to communicate with each other.
Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM)
European protocol used for encoding digital cellular phone transmissions.
Interexchange Carrier - IXC - IEC (IEC is preferred). A company providing long-distance phone service between LECs and LATAs.
IEC - Interexchange Carrier
IC - IXC (IEC is preferred). A company providing long-distance phone service between LECs and LATAs.
Communication between two different LATAs.
Communication between Local Access Transport Areas. 1982 MFJ requires LECs to use an IEC for InterLATA services.
Between multiple nations.
International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
Organization in Geneva that evaluates and approves proposed standards for making telecommunications products work together.
Internet Protocol (IP)
Main protocol (i.e., set of rules that formulates the foundation of communication) that controls data flow from one point to the another. It is actually the low-level common denominator of the Internet.
Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Company that offers its customers accesses to the Internet. Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) Company that offers its customers the ability to make phone calls over the public Internet.
Between multiple states. Interstate communications are regulated by the FCC.
Communication within a Local Access Transport Area. 1982 MFJ allows LEC to handle these calls without an IEC.
Communication within a single state. Intrastate communications are regulated by each state's PUC.
ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)
Phone line service whose technology offers more bandwidth more economically; it is therefore better suited for Internet telephony and video applications. ISDN uses multiple channels for data and voice.
1) Interexchange Carrier (IEC is preferred). A company providing long-distance phone service between LECs and LATAs. 2) Interexchange Circuit. A circuit that connects PoPs. Jitter Difference in arrival time of packets sent at the same time but traveling different routes. LATA Local Access Transport Areas (200 in the U.S.). A geographic service area defined in the AT&T Modified Final Judgement. The RBOCs (baby Bells) and GTE are restricted to operations within, but not between, LATAs. Long distance service within a LATA is provided by the LEC. Service between LATAs is provided by an IEC. LATAs are represented by a 3-character code, and there are 164 of them across the country.
See Local Exchange Carrier
LEC BAN - Billing Account Number
3-digit number appended to the billing phone number used as the LEC customer number. Groups all ANIs for a customer.
LEC Billing
Arrangement whereby the Local Exchange Carrier invoices the customer for some or all telecommunications services.
LEC Card
The billing arrangement which enables the caller to bill calls to an authorized calling card issued by a local exchange carrier.
LEC Charges
Charges that are the responsibility of the local exchange carrier.
Letter Of Agency - LOA
A document that authorizes changing the service provider. (See RespOrg, 800 Portability)
Local Access
Local Loop. The connection from a subscriber to the Central Office. The portion of a circuit connecting the LEC's CO with the customer's premise equipment across the local network. Local Access Provider Any organization that is authorized to provide local access. (May or may not be the LEC.)
Local Area Network (LAN)
Number of computers connected together to form one network. Local Exchange Carrier - LEC The local or regional telephone company that owns and operates lines to customer locations and Class 5 Central Office Switches. LECs have connections to other COs, Tandem (Class 4 Toll) offices and may connect directly to IECs like WorldCom, AT&T, MCI, Sprint, etc. Local Exchange Service Local phone calls.
Long Distance Carrier
A company providing long-distance phone service between LECs and LATAs. Message Toll Service - MTS Pay-by-the-minute switched long distance services. Includes conventional long distance and measured WATS.
NPA - Numbering Plan Areas
North American "Area Codes." (3 digits: 2-to-9, 0-or-1, 0-to-9. Middle digit to expand soon)
Operator Service Call - OSC
A call that is placed through a human or automated operator (0+).
Operator Service Provider - OSP - OS Provider
The vendor that supplies operator service.
Outward Sending - Call Originating - Dialing Out
A public (or private) telephone that accepts coins or encoded credit cards.
Payphone Fee
Additional charge per call if if call is made using a payphone, normally collected for the owner of the payphone.
Personal Identification Number (PIN)
Personal unique security codes that callers use to access their accounts.
Operator assisted phone call - only billed if the specified person is available.
Phone card
Same as a calling card or telecard.
Same as a calling card or telecard.
PIC - Primary Interexchange Carrier
The IEC that 1+ calls are routed to. Specified by ANI.
PIC Charges
A LEC charge for changing the PIC. Often paid by the new IEC. If a LEC sends a PIC charge to a customer, the new IEC will typically credit the customer's account.
PIC Freeze
A PIC Freeze prevents the long distance from being switched for the specified ANIs. Useful to prevent slamming, or the unauthorized switching of long distance services.
PIC Request
A request record sent to a LEC asking for an ANI to be activated, deactivated or changed in some way.
PIC Response
A response record sent by a LEC (corresponding to a previous PIC Request) with response code that indicates whether the request was performed. (Some LECs return non-standard PIC Response codes.)
Point Of Presence - POP
The physical access location interface between a local exchange carrier and an Interexchange Carrier fiber network. The point to which the telephone company terminates a subscriber's circuit for long distance service or leased line communications.
Non-switched, dedicated communication circuit.
Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)
Protocol to access the Internet using dial-up connections.
See Point Of Presence
Plain Old Telephone Service
Prepaid Phone Card
A plastic or paper card that allows a person to pay for long distance/local phone calls in advance.
Primary Interexchange Carrier
The long distance company that is automatically accessed when a customer dials 1+.
Private Line
Uses dedicated circuits to connect customer's equipment at both ends of the line. Does not provide any switching capability (unless supported by customer premise equipment). Usually includes two local loops and an IEC circuit.
The process by which a requested (ordered) service is designed, implemented and tracked (providing the subcomponent parts).
Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)
The regular, "old-fashioned" telephone network.
PUC - Public Utilities Commission
The agency regulating intrastate phone service.
Rate Element
A recurring fixed charge for IEC or LEC service at the lowest level. A local loop may have multiple rate elements associated with it, which make up the fixed portion of the monthly bill. For example: Local Access, Local Mileage, Entrance facilities, Channel Termination, Interexchange, etc. Rates and Tariffs Standards published by AT&T, OCCs,LECs, and IECs that define service availability, cost and provisioning procedures.
Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP)
Protocol that improves Internet telephone calls by adding special information to the voice data packets to help programs reassemble them more efficiently.
RBOC Regional Bell Operating Company.
Bell operating companies set up after the AT&T divestiture. Rebiller
See Reseller
Recharge Code
A set of numbers on a calling card used to add additional funds, usually the last several digits of a PIN.
Rechargeable Phone Card
A calling card used which can be refilled with units by the addition of funds to the calling card account without the purchase of a new card or a new PIN.
Reuseable Phone Card
A calling card used which can be refilled with units by the addition of funds to the calling card account without the purchase of a new card or a new PIN.
Regional Bell Operating Companies - RBOC
One of the seven "Baby Bell" Companies created by the 1982 Modified Final Judgement that specified the terms of the AT&T Divestiture. The seven RHCs include: NYNEX, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, Southwestern Bell, U.S. West, Pacific Telesis, and Ameritech. "RBOC" is sometimes used informally to refer to the Regional Holding Companies defined in the 1982 MFJ. (See Bell Operating Companies - There are 19 BOCs).
FCC, PUC, Federal Courts (e.g. MFJ), etc.
Reseller - Also known as Rebiller
A long-distance carrier (IEC) that does not own a network, but leases bulk capacity and resells portions of it at a higher rate.
Residential Customer
An individual (non-business) telephone system subscriber.
Responsible Organization - R/O - Resporg
With 800 Portability, the Number Administration Service Center (NASC) allows the RespOrg to make changes such as carrier, termination, 800 call routing (by time of day, location.) A Letter Of Agency (LOA) must be on file to change the RespOrg for each customer/account.
Switching device that that directs traffic through the Internet.
Secure Socket Layer (SSL)
Encrypted communications path between two computers. Theoretically protects customer information.
Serial Line Interface Protocol (SLIP)
Protocol to access the Internet using dial-up connections.
An end user that is PICed without their permission. An RBOC Slam Fee must be paid for each slam.
Smart Card
A plastic phone-card with a stored cash value in a micro-chip inside the card.
Service Management System
Also Simple Message System
Also Simple Message Service
SMS Customer Record
All information related to one 800 number, effective date and time, etc.
Speed Dialing
A service to abbreviate and accelerate frequently dialed numbers.
State Tax
A collection of tax types that each state is allowed to charge. Tax jurisdiction (which state can charge tax for a call) is based on the two-out-of-three rule: where it originates, where it terminates, where it is being billed to - if two match, that state can charge the tax.
An additional charge on top of a base rate for a specified reason. A fee charged against the card usually to cover the companies costs.
A device (like a DMS-250 or a PBX) that responds to originator signals and dynamically connects the caller to the desired communication destination.
Switched Access
Nondedicated local access between the customer's premise and the serving wire center which is interconnected to the company's point-of-presence for origination or termination of service.
Switched Access Service
A class of LEC services that provides the link from the customer's premise to the IEC PoP for switched circuits.
Switched Resellers
Resellers that utilize their own switching hardware (and sometimes their own lines) and the lines of other IXCs to provide long-distance service to its subscribers. They provide their own billing and service.
Switched Services
All dial up long-distance services including conventional residential and WATS (most have incremental use charges). (See Message Toll Service)
Switching Fee
A per-line fee (usually around 5$) imposed by the LEC to reprogram their switching system to change your default carrier. Subscribers must usually pay this fee when switching to a reseller.
Switchless Reseller
A reseller of long-distance services that does not utilize any of its own lines, or (switching) equipment. All actual service and equipment is handled by the IXC. Billing is usually done, by the reseller themselves, to the customer.
A public document filed with the FCC or a PUC that outlines services and rates. Usually, all customers are offered the same rate for a specific service, based on published constraints.
Same as a phone card or calling card.
Telecommunications Device for the Deaf
Telco - Telephone Company
The local or regional telephone company that owns and operates lines to customer locations and Class 5 Central Office Switches. Telcos have connections to other COs, Tandem (Class 4 Toll) offices and may connect directly to IECs like WorldCom, AT&T, MCI, Sprint, LDDS, etc.
Termination gateway
The computer equipment configured with certain hardware and software, which provides the electronic "bridge" from an IP network to the PSTN to connect to the destination telephone. Third Party Billing Use of an outside service bureau for bill processing such as: call rating, customer invoicing, collections, etc.
Time of Day Routing
Route calls based on the time the call originates. (e.g. direct morning calls to East Coast operators and afternoon calls to West Coast operators, etc.). SMS/800 supports 15 minute time intervals.
A rated call (Contrast CDR - unrated call detail record). Tolls appear on the Invoice Detail.
Toll Call
A call with incremental use (minute-by-minute) charges. (Often through a Class 4 Toll Office). Toll Fraud A crime in which a "hacker" obtains telecommunication services by: breaching computer security, using or selling stolen long-distance credit-card codes, or, accessing a PBX and using its communication facilities illegally. Toll Fraud is estimated to cost U.S. companies $1.2 billion/year.
Value Added Reseller (VAR)
Company offering services other than the core service. For example, a company who sells computers and offers training, service, and on-going maintenance is considered a VAR.
Vanity Number
A specific 800 or 888 number (may spell something).
Verified Account Codes
See Account Codes. A finite list of carrier-verified, predefined Account Codes.
Compresses a digital signal and then decompresses it. (Also known as coder.)
Voice Mail
An automatic answering service with the ability to record a message. Unlike simple answering machines, Voice mail uses a programmable computer system with options such as temporary call routing, monitoring and reporting, etc.
Voice Mail Box
The assignment of one user/number on a voice mail system.
WATS - Wide Area Telephone Service
Flat rate, or special rate pay-by-the-minute (measured) billing for a specified calling area. May be outbound or inbound (e.g. 800).
Wide Area Network (WAN)
Number of computers connected together to form one network over several locations. Could be made up of several LANS all connected together across the world for example.
Radio waves, cellular, satellite, microwave, etc.
Wireless Number Portability.
Working Telephone Number.

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