How to Identify a Long Distance Carrier

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Long-distance carriers offer a wide variety of calling plans, with some far more expensive than others. Because of the wide difference in price and services, you may want to keep tabs on who is handling your long-distance service. Checking your carrier costs nothing and is as easy as picking up your phone and dialing a few digits.


Step 1

Pick up the telephone. You can check the long-distance carrier on your telephone line directly from your own phone. Simply pick up your phone and make sure you have a dial tone before dialing.

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Step 2

Dial 1-700-555-4141. Much like 900-numbers handle pay-per-minute calls and 800-numbers handle toll-free calls, 700-numbers handle special service calls for telephone companies and large enterprises. The number 700-555-4141 is reserved for automated telephone company messages that identify the primary interexchange carrier (PIC, or long-distance carrier) programmed on the associated telephone line. Even better, this particular 700-number service is completely free of charge to use.


Step 3

Listen to the recording. The specific message you hear when you dial the 700-555-4141 number may vary depending on your long-distance carrier and on the equipment used by your local telephone company. If you have a long-distance carrier, however, you will hear either a short recording identifying the long-distance carrier by name or a short advertisement for your long-distance carrier.


Step 4

Hang up. After you have identified your long-distance carrier, simply hang up the telephone to disconnect the call. No additional steps are necessary for using 700-number services.


Certain telephone services, such as mobile phones and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lines, use proprietary long-distance routing that does not involve assigning an IXC to a subscriber's line; for this reason, dialing the 700-number from telephones of this type may not return any results or may simply be routed to a busy signal.

It is possible to have telephone service without having a long-distance carrier; if you do not have a carrier, you may hear a busy signal, a fast busy signal, a message indicating that your call can not be completed, or a recording from your local telephone company advising you that no carrier is assigned to your line.


If the carrier identified on your line is not who you expected, contact your local telephone company right away to have your long-distance carrier changed and a "PIC Freeze" (a service that prevents changing of long-distance companies) assigned to your line.