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Huh? Where was this the "traditional" long distance area code number? I always remembered this as 1-areacode-555-1212. Is 234-5678 from Canada or the east coast or something? --Randal L. Schwartz 21:07, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

Ahh, nevermind. I see that it's a repeated vandalism. I've fixed it (for now) --Randal L. Schwartz 21:12, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

1800411METRO v. 1800FREE411[edit]

I recently removed a section which i percieved to be spam. Even if it was not spam, it was most definitely not NPOV...and I thusly removed it. I think it's a fair plam to mention both of the numbers under a "Free Directory Service" section, but replacing a (what I percieve to be) stable description of one with an advertisement for the other is not ok. If someone who knows more about this metro411 would like to integrate it into the article (not replace the 1800free411 section with a 1800411metro section), that'd be a good idea. jfg284 you were saying? 20:55, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Edit Made[edit]

I'm a user of 1-800-411-METRO (not an employee or investor). I wasn't aware that another service was available and have updated the entry as necessary. On a personal note, the second service was not very good (the wait was long and they couldn't find my number) and is extremely impersonal. But, hey, it's free.

- di

Yea, that reads much better (in my opinion) than what was in there before. jfg284 you were saying? 13:35, 10 December 2005 (UTC)

History Missing[edit]

Why does this article have nothing about the history of the number 411 and why it, as apposed to any other number, is the number for information?

Sometimes I think the number 411 for information is from the phone phreaking days. 411 was (part of) the phone number to call to get into the party line where all the best phone phreakers whould exchange information. Many people would call this number and never talk, just listen for information.

  • I agree that the article is very vague, with the mere mention of "for decades..." instead of saying exactly when the 4-1-1 was developed. This vagueness is very unprofessional and I'd say that it hardly meets Wikipedia's standards for accuracy. I personally would also like to learn more about these "phone phreaks," because I've never heard of them. Hopefully there's a seperate article on them somewhere on Wikipedia. --Promus Kaa 16:40, 5 May 2007 (UTC)

The statement that 411 has been the number for information in most of the U.S. & Canada for decades is also rather misleading. It depends entirely upon the area concerned.

411 has been in use since at least the 1930s in SOME areas, and was adopted as the official standard by Bell/AT&T. However, the choice of service codes in the past was dependent very much upon the type of switching equipment employed, the numbering scheme in the town, etc.

In general, those areas which were served by panel or crossbar switches (brought into service from the 1920s and 1930s respectively) typically used n11 service codes: 411 for information, 611 for repair service, 211 for long distance, sometimes 811 for the telephone business office, and so on. Panel and crossbar switches are what are known as common control switches, in which the system registers a certain number of digits (normally three) before "deciding" what to do with the call. It's relatively easy to assign any three-digit code to any function you wish.

However, many parts of the U.S. and Canada, especially small towns and rural areas, were served by Strowger step-by-step switches, although it wasn't confined to such places (e.g. Los Angeles & Atlanta used it). As the name suggests, these worked on a rather different principle of taking the dialed number one digit at a time and switching the call through to the next stage of the equipment after each and every digit. Without going into too much technical detail, because you would have local numbers starting with 2, 3, 4, etc. it was rather more awkward to have 211, 411, 611, etc. for service codes interspersed with regular local numbers such as 2243, 4312, etc.

In areas served by SxS equipment, therefore, it became common practice to use 11x numbers instead. Typically, 113 was information, 114 repair service, and 110 for long distance, if such a separate operator number was considered necessary in the area concerned. Other 11x numbers could be found as engineers' test numbers, and in many rural areas with party lines 118 or 119 was the code needed to call somebody on your own line.

Eventually, during the 1960s, it was decided that ultimately n11 codes would prevail. Larger step-by-step switches were sometimes converted from 11x codes, and the ESS (Electronic Switching System) switches were started to come into service at that time were common control and had no problem being programmed with any code required.

But in smaller SxS switches it would have been inconvenient and involved a lot of work to adopt 411, 611, et al. So right into the 1970s and 1980s, there were still many smaller exchanges which used 113 for information.

While these were the most common numbers, they were far from being the ONLY ones used in the past. Independent companies especially could be found right into the 1970s using all sorts of other "odd" codes for information/directory assistance. And even where 411 was in use, there were still some places where due to the type of equipment and the trunking arrangements it was necessary to dial a routing digit first, so you might have had to dial 7-411 or 8-411 etc.

PBC1966 (talk) 21:55, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Addition and minor edits[edit]

  • added new player 520Find
  • reformated content into a list
  • fixed one typo

I am not sure that the split landline vs wireless makes sense anymore. I think there is residential, cell phone and business directory.

We should also add something about the new features offered by this new breed of services: automatic connect, SMS, coupons & discounts, etc.

Arnaud (7-Sep-2006)

Added reference to TellMe survey[edit]

Arnaud (8-Sep-2006)


I hear people say things about "the 411" and it having to do with fashion. There's nothing on wikipedia about it, although it seems to be very well known. Can anyone explain this? --IronMaidenRocks 04:09, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

People use the phrase "the 411" colloquially as a slang term for "information". For instance, rather than say, "Give me information on your new job," someone might say, "Give me the 411 on your new job." So that's where it comes from. We would need a good source to add it to the article, though. SchuminWeb (Talk) 16:33, 19 May 2007 (UTC)
How about adding a section to the article describing its usage in popular culture as slang for information. Reference --Caltor (talk) 18:19, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
Urban dictionary is not a reliable source. Keep hunting. SchuminWeb (Talk) 05:21, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

No wonder I don't get it. Just like 911, in UK, you'd probably say 999 instead, in New Zealand, you'd say 111, so what would the other countries' equivalent to a 411 be?TimHowardII 04:15, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Directory assistance/information numbers vary widely from country to country, and in many cases even within a country there have been multiple numbers in use at one time, or the number has been changed over the years.

For the U.K., 953 was once the number in many towns, with subscribers in London and a handful of other large urban areas dialing DIR (347) for DIRectory. These numbers were all changed and merged into 192 by the late 1960s, although for some years through the 1970s at least the sheer volume of calls meant that callers WITHIN London wanting to find out a London number called 142 instead. Now we have the plethora of 118xxx numbers from competing companies.

Other places have had similar changes: Australia once used 013, now 1223. New Zealand once used 100, then changed to 018.

And remember that even in the U.S. 411 was NOT universal. 113 persisted in some areas right into the 1980s.

PBC1966 (talk) 16:52, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Inclusion of Free Directory Assistance Numbers[edit]

There is no reason to delete a mention of free directory assistance numbers as long as the content is informational and mentions competing numbers. That they exist as an alternative to fee-based 411 is a fact. It's only logical that a listing of free numbers belongs immediately after information about 411 fees. (Also, what is the point of the FREE-411 press release or the TellMe survey if they're not mentioned in the article?) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

It's considered spam. Additionally, all information must be verifiable through a reliable source. SchuminWeb (Talk) 02:03, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
I second... It is perfectly relevant. The nature of the beast is anything you dial other than the expensive 411 is going to be corporate but they are still directory services. I've also referenced where I first learned about all of the providers too. CaribDigita (talk) 04:30, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
The paragraph is sourced. The list is unsourced, and falls under the category of spam. SchuminWeb (Talk) 15:07, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Was 411 Ever Free?[edit]

I might be too young to remember, but I heard that 411 used to be free. Is that true? If it was, that would be notable enough to put in the article? Also what's the history of 411? Was it AT&T originally? Did each ilec run their own 411 service after the breakup? Family Guy Guy (talk) 14:37, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes it used to be free (at least) here in New England before all this "deregulation". During the late 1980's 411 was free I believe and then around I think the telecommunications act of 1996 then a regularised fee was implimented. For a while longer (at least) you could still goto a payphone out in the street and get Free 411. I think you still can??? (I haven't used a payphone in like over 10-years, so I'm not 100% sure about now.) Anyway, after a while Verizon implemented a $0.50 charge, then it jumped to $0.60 then like $0.90. Now they allow you to have upto 2 free 411 calls per calender month and after it is like $1.50 or $2.50? Verizon now will also offer to connect the call for $0.35 fee... Another thing too I remember if you had AT&T Long Distance (prior to the SBC Communications buyout) AT&T used to allow customers to call that national 411 service by pressing "00" a.k.a. "AT&T double-O-info" they called it. It might still be around for those that have AT&T. Not sure about the history but all "N11" possibilities were reserved from early on in NANP. Other than that area codes either had to have a zero or 1 in the middle e.g. 202, 203, 204 ... 210, (211 reserverd), 212, 213, 214, etc. Since 411 was reserved perhaps that was why? Anyone else know this one? CaribDigita (talk) 23:00, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
I'm confused. I can think of area codes that don't have 1 or 0 in the middle. Family Guy Guy (talk) 06:55, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Sure *now* you can, but back before tons of Internet on-ramp phone numbers were allocated, and dedicated fax machines numbers, and mobile phones began to max out the oringinal area codes... All area codes had a 1 or 0 as the middle digit in Canada, the US, Bermuda and Caribbean...
E.g. the whole of the Caribbean was 8(0)9 until ~94. Washington D.C. 2(0)2, New York -- Manhattan 2(1)2, Brooklyn 7(1)8. Massachusetts had 6(1)7 and 5(0)8 and 4(1)3.
Here is a screenshot of what the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) looked like from 1947 CaribDigita (talk) 07:26, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
There were different fee schemes for 411 usage among the RBOCs. Typically, you would get a small number of calls for "free" each month with local phone service, and then subsequent calls would be charged individually. I believe it was also possible to pay an additional monthly fee for a larger pack or "unlimited" 411 calls per month. I don't use an RBOC today, but apparently even now you get one free 411 call per month from AT&T (SBC). Today, with the degree to which personal numbers are unlisted or wireless, and easy and free number lookup via Internet and GOOG-411, I don't remember when I last used local telco 411. – RVJ (talk) 21:44, 10 February 2010 (UTC)