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Earlier, 976 numbers used 976 as a local prefix (970 or 540 in some markets like New York state), though it was not assigned to a specific telephone exchange like other prefixes.These numbers were dialed as any other number, such as 976-1234.While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used.These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished from other numbers.Telephone companies typically offer blocking services to allow telephone customers to prevent access to these number ranges from their telephones.
For example, a "psychic hotline" type of 1-900 number may charge .99 for the first minute and 99 cents for each additional minute.
Numbers with the 900 area code were those which were expected to have a huge number of potential callers, and the 900 area code was screened at the local level to allow only a certain number of the callers in each area to access the nationwide long distance network for reaching the destination number.
Also, the early incarnation of 900 was not billed at premium-rate charges, but rather at regular long distance charges based on the time of day and day of week that the call was placed.
This practice continues, along with the use of these numbers for things such as software technical support, banking access, and stock tips.
Adult entertainment 900 numbers have been largely absent from AT&T and MCI since 1991.Diplomatic services, such as the US Embassy in London or the UK Embassy in Washington, have also charged premium rates for calls from the general public.