Prior to the development of automated toll-free service many telephone companies provided a manual version of caller free service. S., the caller would ask for a number like "Zenith 1-2345" (some areas used "Enterprise" or "WX" instead of "Zenith", but in the same pattern of a free service name and a five-digit number).Examples of operator-assisted toll-free calling include the Zenith number introduced in the 1950s in the U. and Canada, as well as the original manual 'Freephone' service introduced by the British Post Office in 1960. The calling party would ring the operator (now '100' in the UK, '0' in Canada/U. In the UK, the caller would ask the operator to ring "Freephone" and a name or number (such as "Freephone Crimebusters" to pass on tips about a crime to the constabulary).No more need to manually ring the operator, two new prefixes 0800 (an automated toll-free service which became "Freefone") and 0345 (a shared-cost service marketed as "Lo-Call" because initially its rates resembled those of local calls) could be reached by direct dial.A toll-free vanity number, custom toll-free number, or mnemonic is easy to remember; it spells and means something or it contains an easily recognized numeric pattern.
For small regional businesses who received few long-distance calls, the original In WATS was prohibitively expensive.Until the introduction of In WATS toll-free service by the Bell System on May 2, 1967 and the Linkline (later "Freefone") 0800 services by British Telecom on 12 November 1985, manually ringing the operator was the standard means to place a toll-free call.More than a few established manual "Freephone" or "Zenith" numbers remained in use for many years after competing automated systems (0800 in UK, 1-800 in U.A toll-free, Freecall, Freephone, 800, 0800 or 1-800 number is identified by a dialing prefix similar to a geographic area code, such as 800.Originally, a call billed to the called party had to be placed through a telephone company operator as a collect call.In Australia, premium numbers, such as the 13-series or the vanity phone words, are distributed by auction separately from the administrative procedure to assign random, generic numbers from the available pool.In toll-free telephony, a shared-use number is a vanity number (usually a valuable generic phone word), which is rented to multiple local companies in the same line of business in different cities.Shared use can be used as a means to circumvent FCC regulations against "warehousing, hoarding and brokering" toll-free numbers as technically the number is not being sold, only rented one city or region at a time.The practice is nonetheless potentially problematic as it leaves local businesses advertising numbers which they do not own and for which they therefore have no number portability.An easily remembered number is valued as a branding and direct response tool in business advertising.In the United States, Federal Communications Commission regulations mandate that numbers be allocated on a first come, first served basis; this gives vanity number operators who register as Resp Orgs a strong advantage in obtaining the most valuable phonewords, as they have first access to newly disconnected numbers and to newly introduced toll-free area codes.