NumberGarage™ News

Category Archives: Telco History

So…What Exactly is a Short Code?

IMG_0934

A Common Short Code (CSC) or “short code” is a special number that’s significantly shorter than a full telephone number and can be used to make calls or send and receive SMS messages.

All CSC’s are 5-6 digits in length and can come in one of two forms — either abbreviated dialing or messaging. They can also be customized and used in place of a long-tail vanity phone number just like the Law Firm bus ad on this blog post (just dial #LAW (529) to call their offices). So cool, right?!

Designed to be easier to read and remember, short codes are most often used for texting for value-add services like charity donations and TV-based voting (think “The Voice”). But be careful when sending short codes too! CSC’s can come with a hefty price just to send one message. If you send the word “STOP” in response to a short code, it will stop sending you information.

How to Get Your Own Short Code

If you want to obtain a dedicated short code in the U.S., you have to choose between vanity and random codes. It’s sort of like like picking a license plate.

With the vanity code, you get to choose the specific number and it cost around $1,000 per month to register per code (random short codes cost about half that). Keep in mind, the approval process for a custom short code can take anywhere from 12-16 weeks.

Vertical Service Codes, or CLASS Codes

Telephones can do so many things for us in regard to managing our communication. The Vertical Service Code (VSC) is the technical name for the code we press for a telephone function. As an example, Caller ID Privacy is “star six-seven,” or “*67.” Dialing a star is easier than pressing “one-one” or “11.” The star in this case is also an asterisk, but we have always called this symbol a “star” for obvious reasons – it looks like a star. Therefore, it is “star” and dialing “six-seven” afterword blocked your identity before you dial a phone number. These functions are also called, “star codes.”

AT&T coined the phrase, “CLASS CODES™” to explain these telephone functions or services. CLASS is an acronym for Custom Local Area Signaling Services, and you almost have to take a class to understand CLASS codes and what they all do.

AT&T then trademarked the word, “CLASS Codes™” that is the acronym to explain these telephony functions. Then, someone with the North American Numbering Plan Administration chose to explain these CLASS codes as, “Vertical Service Codes” to avoid the use of the Trademarked word, “CLASS.” They were not going to pay AT&T to use this word, and therefore they changed the name.

There was not much uniformity in telco back in the day, and various Switch manufacturers wanted to differentiate themselves. So some programed their switches to use the “hash” or “hashtag” as it is popularly known now. Also called the “pound key” too. Dialing, 72# was the same as dialing, *72 for call forwarding. What is interesting is these codes will forward phone calls, *72, #72, 1172, and 72#. They all do the same thing if you dial  # before a code the code technically NOT a Vertical Service Code like *72, or 1172 are.

You do not have to dial a VSC to use the NumberGarage™ FORWARD service. We assume you have more than one phone number, and you might be in need of simplifying your communication.

What is a “Virtual Number”?

© Joe Gough - Fotolia.com

You can think of a virtual telephone number as a number in the cloud. When that number is called, the caller is directed to another telephone number where it is answered. This is known as a remote call forward (RCF), and exactly what NumberGarage’s “Forward” service can do for you.

There are many reasons to turn your current landline, or cell phone number into a virtual number. You might want to save money, or consolidate callers to your exisiting cellular number. You might even move from one side of the country to another, and you want callers to continue to reach you.

We have recently seen a lot of small to medium sized businesses using the NumberGarage service. We are built for consumer use, and save our customers on average $50 a month from what they were paying for traditional landline services.

Wikipedia has a great definition of what a virtual number is here.

One of the best uses of our service we have seen is a plumbing company who has been buying telephone numbers from plumbing companies who go out of business, or vanity numbers having to do with plumbing terms. This entity has seen business grow with centralizing calls to their receptionist. We really do like to know how our customers use the NumberGarage service. Tell us your story.

iPhone To Verizon?

Apple’s iPhone is up there in the top ranks of most coveted mobile phone device, and now it looks like Verizon Wireless may be getting a piece of that action. While Apple has an exclusive deal with carrier AT&T, a move to a CDMA carrier would be a good move for Apple, allowing them to grab an even larger piece of the mobile phone market. Earlier this year Verizon launched the Blackberry Storm, heralded as the best iPhone competitor out there, and this would give the mobile provider a heavy arsenal of handsets. And with the ability to port your phone number from any carrier, those who were wary of switching to AT&T in the past now may have another option if they want to become an iPhone user.

[R]umors are once again heating up that Apple and Verizon are actively discussing the possibility of creating an iPhone to work on Big Red’s airwaves, according to USA Today’s infamous “people familiar with the situation.” The juicy gossip claims that discussions kicked off a few months ago when Steve was still running the day-to-day show out in Cupertino, but that the conversation has continued in his absence — and they’d like to get a product on the shelves next year, likely much to AT&T’s chagrin.

New iPhones are set to launch in June at the Worldwide Developers Conference in California. Will there be a Verizon announcement there as well?

The History Of the Phone Number

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, there has been a need for one device to connect to the other: enter the telephone number. Even though a phone number may look different in every country around the world, it is the one great connector to us all, a unique ten digit code that anyone can punch in and contact us. Phone numbers weren’t always ten digits, and they used to not even exist at all. The origins of the telephone number are fascinating, and worth a read through the entire wikipedia entry on the subject, but this passage really stands out:

The latter part of 1879 and the early part of 1880 saw the first use of telephone numbers at Lowell, Massachusetts. During an epidemic of measles, the physician, Dr. Moses Greeley Parker, feared that Lowell’s four telephone operators might all succumb to sickness and bring about a paralysis of telephone service. He recommended the use of numbers for calling Lowell’s more than 200 subscribers so that substitute operators might be more easily trained in the event of such an emergency. Parker was convinced of the telephone’s potential, began buying stock, and by 1883 he was one of the largest individual stockholders in both the American Telephone Company and the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company.

Your telephone number becomes a unique extension of you, something that no one else can lay claim to. Why not park or forward it should you need to? Don’t allow anyone else to claim that exclusive number.