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Operator assistance

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Title: Operator assistance  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Toll switching trunk, North American Numbering Plan, Person-to-person, Publicly Available Telephone Services, Direct distance dialing
Collection: Telephone Services
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Operator assistance

An operator-assisted call is one in which the calling party places a telephone call which requires an operator to provide some form of assistance in completing the call. This may include telephone calls made from pay phones, calls placed station-to-station, person-to-person, collect, third number calls, calls billed to a credit card, and certain international calls which cannot be dialed directly. The telephone operator may also be able to assist with determining what kind of technical difficulties are occurring on a phone line, to verify whether a line is busy (Busy Line Verification, or BLV), or left off the hook, and break in on a phone line to request for the caller to clear the line for an incoming call (Busy Line Interruption, or BLI). The latter service is often utilized by emergency police. In addition, operators are often a first point of contact for the elderly wanting information on the current date and time.

Before the advent of emergency telephone numbers, operators identified and connected emergency calls to the correct emergency service. Directory assistance was also part of the operator's job.

Operator-assisted calls can be more expensive than direct dial calls.

A person-to-person call is an operator-assisted call in which the calling party wants to speak to a specific party and not simply to anyone who answers. The caller is not charged for the call unless the requested party can be reached. This method was popular when telephone calls were relatively expensive. The alternative, in which the calling party agrees to talk to whoever answers the telephone, is known as station-to-station. With the introduction of direct dial telephone service and the subsequent drop in the price of long distance telephone calls, person-to-person service is now virtually unheard of.

An operator-assisted conference call or op assist call is one in which the conference call is managed by an operator. The telephone operator will greet each call participant, gather specific information from each participant, introduce key speakers, and manage questions and answers, all from the telephone.

A third number call or third party call is an operator assisted telephone call that can be billed to the party other than the calling and called party. The operator calls the third number for the party to accept the charges before the call can proceed.

List of operator assistance numbers

  • Australia
    • 1234
  • Germany
    • 00-1188 (international)
  • Hong Kong
    • 10010 (local)
    • 10013 (international)
  • North American (North American Numbering Plan)
    • 0 (local)
    • 00 – (long distance provider; after AT&T breakup)
  • United Kingdom
    • 100
    • 155 (international)

See also


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