Re: Internationalization--Phone Number Writing Conventions

From: Lars Henrik Mathiesen (
Date: Tue Jun 01 1999 - 11:12:54 EDT

> From: Markus Kuhn <>
> Date: Mon, 31 May 1999 15:13:29 -0700 (PDT)

> C) If you read the actual E.123 text, then you will notice that a
> lot of careful thought went into it and that none of your
> criticism applies. It has special rules for NA phone numbers
> (considering their different conventions) and it does take care
> of readability through inserting spaces. Your criticism is
> obviously completely based on guesswork and not on reading the
> standard. The penalty fee for this misbehaviour shall be 20 Swiss
> Francs. :-) Please read it.

If the rest of us are not under penalty, would it be possible for you
to give some examples of international forms with inserted spaces?
Let's take Danish phone numbers, just for instance...

The culturally normal form is two-digit groups, and we went through a
number system change recently (over a period of more than ten years,
just about coming to an end now), to get ten times as many numbers.
Can you tell me what should have been on a business card in each of
these time periods?

1) Before the change began, we had one-digit area codes with 0 as the
   prefix: Local 45 35 60, national 03 45 35 60, intl +45 3 45 35 60.

2) To avoid ambiguity between the old and new plans, area codes became
   mandatory for a few years: Local and national 03 45 35 60, intl
   still(!) +45 3 45 35 60.

3) The area codes were replaced by two-digits prefixes: Local and natl
   53 45 35 60 (03 45 35 60 still worked). Intl callers were supposed
   to change instantly to +45 53 45 35 60, but old 1-digit area codes
   still worked by detecting a pause after (country code +) 7 digits.
   (+45 03 45 35 60 never worked, AFAIK).

4) [Actually, I don't expect the answer to change here]. The old area
   codes stopped working, and existing phone numbers began moving to
   new two-digit prefixes (still corresponding to smaller geographical
   areas): Local and national 59 65 35 60, intl +45 59 45 35 60. (New
   numbers were given out in these new prefixes during the previous
   period as well).

(These new two-digit prefixes are not area codes in the ITU sense ---
there's no difference between local and national dialing, so Denmark
just has 8-digit phone numbers now. But the geographical meaning still
remains to some extent, even down to four-digit prefixes: Local to me,
3- numbers are Copenhagen, 38 is western and northwestern outskirts,
and 38 28, 38 60 and 38 80 are located at my local exchange).

0) I don't know if that recommendation existed 25 years ago, but when
   that rural exchange was still manual, we had to dial 03 453 and ask
   for 560.

Lars Mathiesen (U of Copenhagen CS Dep) <> (Humour NOT marked)

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