# Numbering plan

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A telephone numbering plan is a type of numbering scheme used in telecommunications to allocate telephone numbers to subscribers and to route telephone calls in a telephone network. A closed numbering plan, such as found in North America, imposes a fixed total length to numbers. An open numbering plan features variance in the length of telephone numbers.

A dial plan establishes the expected number and pattern of digits for a telephone number. This includes country codes, access codes, area codes and all combinations of digits dialed. For instance, the North American public switched telephone network (PSTN) uses a 10-digit dial plan that includes a 3-digit area code and a 7-digit telephone number. Most PBXs support variable-length dial plans that use 3 to 11 digits. Dial plans must comply with the telephone networks to which they connect.

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### History

In early telephone systems, connections were made in the central office by telephone operators using patch cords to connect one party to another. If a person wanted to make a phone call, he or she would pick up a phone and wind a crank on the side. The crank was a small generator that would light a lamp at the central office. An operator would see the light and insert their patch cord into a socket and assist the customer with the call connection. The operator would use patch cords to connect the caller to the person being called. If the party being called was in another exchange, the operator would use a patch cord to connect to another exchange where an operator elsewhere would finish the connection. As technology advanced, electro-mechanical switches were introduced and calls were made using rotary dials.