Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Confusing Nature of Phone Dialing & How to fix it

January 4, 2008 by · 14 Comments 

It constantly amazes me how complicated local dialing and international phone dialing can be around the world. During the holidays, for example, I was in Mexico, and if you are calling locally from a land line, you need only dial the last 8 digits of a number. However, if you are going to dial a cell phone number, you need to pre-pend 044 before the last 10 digits. Now how in the world would anyone visiting know that unless a local told you so?

That is the beauty of IP addressing. It is a standard. Everyone around the world has a unique fixed length IP address (or a NATed one mapped to a unique, but that’s a different story), and if you needed to, you could just use IP addresses to locate people, but the beauty of DNS allows us to locate someone by a domain name + userid (in the case of email).

Why oh why can’t the Telcos around the world come up with something akin to DNS for phones? The closest thing that the phone world has to a standardized IP address is the “+” dialing method (which I use and all of you should use as well).

If you store the numbers in your phone in the “+” format, you don’t need to worry about local dialing codes (as long as you only use your cell phone while roaming, if you call from a land line, you’re still out of luck). So, for example. I you have numbers in the united states, let’s say a New York number 212-xxx-xxxx, you would store that number like so:

The ‘1’ before the 212 is the country code, which for the USA is 1, and the 212 is obviously the area code for NY.

If you were in the UK and wanted to do the same:


Where, the ’44’ is the country code for the UK, and the ’20’ is the London landline number (locally you add a 0, confusing). If you were dialing a UK mobile in London, for example, it might be +4479-xxxx-xxxx, but the ’79’ which is typical for mobile phones in the UK (dialed locally as 079) may be slightly different like ’78’ depending on where you live and who provides you with a phone.

If you were in Mexico and you wanted to do the same:


Where, the ’52’ is the country code and ’55’ is the city code for Mexico.

If you store your friends phone numbers like this in your address book, then no matter where in the world you go (while roaming on GSM) you will not need to worry about local dialing nightmares.

However, the real nice thing would be if there were a way for people to have these ‘+’ phone numbers assigned to a name similar to DNS, perhaps with a domain name of .phone so you could call people. You could in theory call me at and I would be able to direct where the phone call would go depending on what domain name I gave it. Grand Central which was bought out by Google, did something similar in the proprietary domain, but it’d be nice to have something more akin to DNS in the public domain.

Ok.. so now that I put that out there. In the words of Starsky & Hutch: “Do it”.

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