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Robert Osband

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International Calling From Your Mobile Phone
How to enter numbers in your phone's addressbook
Robert Osband, PHonePHriendly.Com

When setting up overseas telephone numbers in the Contact List or Address Book of your mobile phone (or numbers in the US you plan to call from overseas), put the Plus sign "+" in front of the Country Code, rather than the US Exit code of "011". The "+" sign means "Use the Exit Code of the country I'm in".

While in the USA this will be "011", but in Europe and some other parts of the world, this will be "00". The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said that a nation's Exit Code"will be determned by the National Service". Austrailia uses "0011", and Japan uses "010" before using the Country Code when placing your call. By using the "+" sign in your contact's entry, the mobile phone will check the current network, and insert the appropriate Exit Code. If an exit code is not required because you're in that country, the call will go through as well.

Robert Osband of PHonePHriendly.Com says, "When a friend of mine rented a phone on a recent trip to China, I sent him a text message. His reply came from '011 86' plus the local number. My message to him came from '00 1', plus my Area Code and the number. In other words, each netork showed the user the Exit Code and Country Code required to reach the other party from the network they were in. The '+' sign does the same job, and doesn't need to be changed when you cross borders."

The '+' Plus sign thing started back in the 1970's when international businessmen went to print their phone number on their business cards. The ITU, a specialized agency of the United Nations, weighed in on the matter back then so as to standardize how phone numbers were represented. They realized that the PTT's (Post, Telephone and Telegraph) agencies of member states (where governments ran the telecom agencies), and the RPOA's (Recoggnized Private Operating Agencies where private companies ran the works) all had different requirements for how someone accessed International Direct Dialing. What was dialed was left to each national agency, but how to represent it was decided upon by the ITU.

This works pretty well, until you find that in Britain, they dial "0" for a long distance call, and "00" for an international call. The problem was representing both schemes. So the zero in parenthesis was established. A London number would be represented as +44 (0) 845 555 2368, where the (0) would only be used within Great Britan, and dropped if dialed from outside the country.

This conflicts a bit with the American method of placing the Area Code in parenthesis, which doesn't get dialed if you are within that area code's geographical area. The other problem that came about, of course, was Overlaying two or more NPA's on a single geographical area.

So our British friend should be programmed in your phone as: +44 845 555 2368, and our American friends should be programmed as +1 311 555 2368

You can put your phone numbers into your mobile phone with or without the "dash" charcters - some phones put them in for you, but the ITU standard is to use spaces.

Robert Osband
Robert Osband is a consultant specializing in web pages meant to be read using web browsers on mobile phones. He also provides training in using mobile phones and setting up backups of smartphones and other mobile equipment.

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