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Guide to Telephone services in London and advice for using public telephones in London!

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London Telephone Services

London Telephone Services

Public Telephones
British Telecommunications ('BT') is the main provider of telephone and telecommunications within the UK. They provide all the public call boxes. Inside the call box you will find full instructions on how to use the public telephones.

BT call boxes
These are usually marked with the word Telephone with red markings or 'Phonecard' with green markings at the top of the glass type cubicles.

The 'Telephone' call boxes accept coins (10p, 20p, 50p and £1) and some even accept credit cards such as Access, Amex, Mastercard and Visa.

The 'Phonecard' call boxes, on the other hand, do not accept cash., only pre-paid cards. These cards are available in £2, £4, £10 and £20 denominations and can be purchased from the main Post Offices and most newsagents. Credit cards are also accepted at some 'Phonecard' boxes.

Dialling & codes
The London dialing codes changed in 2000 from 0171 and 0181 to a new single code 020 with a 7 or 8 added to the number to create a new 11 digit number. For example, 0171 813 3000 became 020 7813 3000.

Directory enquiries
For directory enquiries within Britain, dial 118 500 (BT) or 118 118 (The Number). If you require an international number, dial 153. Directory enquiries from a private phone is expensive and you are only allowed two enquiries per call however the same enquiry is free if called from a public call box.

Making a call
When in London, if you are making a call to a London number, you do not need to include the 020 code. If you are calling from outside the UK, you should dial the international access code from the country you are calling then 44 (UK code) plus the London number without the first 0 in the code. (E.g. to call 020 7813 3000 from the US, dial 011 44 20 7813 3000.)

For international calls from the UK, dial 00 (the international access code), then the county code, followed by the number.

Mobile phones
UK mobile phones work on either the 900 or 1800 GSM system which is used throughout Europe. If you are traveling from Europe, check with your service provider if they have a reciprocal agreement with a UK-based service provider, prior to travelling.

If you are travelling from the US, you will need a service provider that uses the GSM system which runs on the 1900 band. If this is the case you will need a tri-band phone and a reciprocal agreement between your service provider and a UK provider.

An easier option may be to buy a 'pay as you go' phone which costs approximately £30-£70. The calls are more expensive then with a subscription package but there is no monthly fee and you are not locked in to a contract. The cards work by buying phone cards (widely available) that slot into your phone. The cards can be bought in denominations of £10 and up. You may want to check if your phone is capable of making and receiving international calls before you buy.

Operator
If you have difficulty dialing, need an early-morning alarm call, need to make a credit card call or require information about the cost of the call, phone 100 to speak to an operator. The operator can also help with international person-to-person calls.

To reverse the charges (call collect) dial 155. However be warned, this service is very expensive.

Talking Pages
Dial 0800 600 900 for a free service, available 24 hours, that lists the numbers of thousands of businesses within the UK. Just say what type of business you require and in what area.

London Telephone directories
London has three telephone directories, two for private numbers and one for companies. The directories are available at post offices and libraries as well as at most hotels. They are issued free to all residents and list businesses and services.

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