April 1, 1997 (WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The telecommunications industry is gearing up to introduce the third nationwide toll-free number code next year.
Committees of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) are making detailed plans for software and other changes to the public telecommunications network to provide the new number, which will be 877. The existing toll-free numbers are 800 and 888.
ATIS's Service Management System Number Administration Committee, the Industry Numbering Committee and the Network Installation and Maintenance Committee are coordinating plans to create the new 877 code and updating guidelines for testing the new number before it goes into use about April 4, 1998.
The toll-free number will be used in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Thousands of telephone switching offices must be programmed to recognize the new toll-free number and properly direct such calls to a database so the call can be completed. Telephone company billing systems must be modified so that the calls are identified as toll-free.
Toll-free numbers have become increasingly popular since the 800 number was introduced in 1967. There are approximately 8 million numbers available with each toll-free prefix. The supply of 800 numbers lasted until about March 1996, when, for the most part, they were used up. The 888 code, in telephone jargon the 888 NPA, went into service on March 1, 1996.
More than 3 million of the toll-free 888 numbers have been assigned and the demand for numbers has been running above 238,000 a month.
"The work being done to implement this third nationwide toll-free number is a prime example of the cooperation which takes place in ATIS-sponsored committees," George L. Edwards, ATIS president, said. "While the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, our committees bring together subject matter experts to ensure that critical network standards and operations guidelines are developed to keep our country's network of networks the most reliable in the world."
ATIS is a unique organization with more than 2,000 participants from telecommunications service providers and manufacturers. Its committees are responsible for network reliability analysis, creating United States network interconnection standards and standards for wood poles, guidelines for testing networks and for ordering and billing of access services among carriers, bar coding for inventory of telecommunications products, and implementation agreements for SONET networks, among others.
Details about the work of each ATIS committee are available on the ATIS home page on www.atis.org.
April 1, 1997