What are Alpha Numeric Telephone Numbers?

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If you have ever visited the US or have some familiarity with the US popular culture, you would have realised that the US system for marketing telephone numbers for businesses is hugely different from that in UK. The inclination for alpha numeric numbers is quite huge in the US. What alpha numeric numbers means is that you can use letters on the dialling pad instead of numbers. Some of the numbers when replaced by the corresponding letters on the dial pad makes for a very memorable word that is related to the business or the service being offered.

For example, take a taxi firm in the US. It would be quite advantageous for the firm to have a number like 1800 FASTCAB so that the number sticks to the mind of the customers and they do not have to memorise sequences of numbers. A person who wishes to call for a cab will more likely dial FASTCAB than rummage through the phonebook and find the actual number to dial.

Alpha numeric telephone numbers have been around for a very long time. They were and still are usually associated with publicity. There used to be many different ways of dividing the 26 alphabets into the 0 - 9 digits of a dial pad, but now there is a far more uniform system mainly due to the mobile phone market. All mobile phones have alpha numeric keypads, mainly used to typing text messages, but not all land line phones have letters on the dial pad. In the 1930s, there was trend in the US to name the telephone exchanges using the first two digits of a telephone numbers as letters representing the name of the local exchange. The concept is similar to that of a dialling code, though now the practice has been abandoned.

Alpha Numeric Telephone Numbers in UK

In the US, alpha numeric numbers were quite popular because the public used phones that had an alpha numeric keypad. So the businesses advertising using the alpha numeric system knew that the message would be absorbed easily and remembered. But in the UK, until very recently, there was no public affinity for alpha numeric key pads. Now, due to the proliferation of mobile phones and the SMS texting culture, alpha numeric keypads have become ubiquitous. There is also increased familiarity with the letters that are associated to the numbers. As a result, there is a gradual increase in the numbers of telephone numbers that are marketed with a special emphasis on the alpha numeric phrase that ties with the product or service of a firm.

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