History of Toll Free Vanity Numbers


                                                                The history of Toll Free Numbers is almost 55 years old. In 1967, AT&T launched a new product named as “interstate INWARD WATS”. This service was also known as Automated Collect Calling. This new “WATS” service has been introduced to cope up with a shortage of telephone company operators. These operators were becoming overwhelmed by the number of calls that were collected and were being accepted by businesses.

                                           Image of Toll free

                                                              AT&T believed that this service was an appropriate solution. In 1984, toll free services were unbundled by MFJ (Modified Final Judgment).In 1992, most of the calls at AT&T long distance networks turned out to be toll free calls and this number was as high as 40%.In 1994, toll free number portability were inducted and in 1996, “888”service was introduced. In 1997, international toll free numbers were introduced. It was estimated in that year that 11 million U.S. toll-free numbers were in use to support some 34 billion calls, two-thirds of which were handled by AT&T. In 1997, the first ever “global 800 numbers” were introduced. This was introduced by United nations-affiliated ITU (International telecommunication unit). In 1998, “877” service came into the market. These numbers were not introduced to replace 800 and 888 numbers but were introduced to expand the universe of available toll free numbers. While in 2000, “866” service was introduced. Thus, the ever increasing universe of toll free numbers became wider and businesses now had more and more options to avail the services and had more options to choose from available toll free numbers.

                                                          Toll free Vanity numbers are just an upgrade of toll free Numbers. The toll free numbers when attached to a word as its suffix turns to be a toll free vanity number and are generally used to symbolize and establish a brand value of a business. Toll free vanity numbers are one of the great ways to promote a business. 


800 Numbers and its Contemporary Numbers


The 888 service was introduced in the year 1996 and since then several other numbers have come into the market as their successor. In 1997 the first international toll free numbers were introduced. In 1997 the first ever “800 numbers” were introduced. Since then several other numbers came into market as others complement. several series of 800 numbers like 877 and 866 came into the market in a year between 1998 and 2010. The 877 number was introduced in the market in 1998.Toll free prefix 866 was introduced by the FCC to the market in the year 2000 to compensate for growing needs for the toll free number. 855 numbers released in 2010. Among the 800, 888, 877 & 866 area codes, there is a total of 31,000,000 toll free numbers available. Current estimations calculate that there are about 19 million toll free numbers currently used.

  • 6.5 million : 1-800 numbers
  • 5.0 million : 888 phone numbers
  • 4.9 million : 877 numbers
  • 3.1 million : 866 numbers


With growing demands in the market for business toll free number 800 has been supplemented with additional prefix such as 822, 833, 844, 845, 855, 866, 877, 887, 888 and 889 for present and future expansion. The 844 numbers were slated to be released in the year 2012 but due to some unexplained reasons this release has been postponed till the year 2013 and may be a 844 number release in the year 2014.As of this time, it is not known exactly when they will be released to the public for use, however it can be expected to be released within the next year or so.thus we can see that several 800 series like 888,877,866,855 came into the market as the need is felt and thus it can be believed that, there will be no shortage of 800 numbers and its series for use.