Telephone call

From Academic Kids

A telephone call is a connection over a telephone network between the calling party and the called party.


Information transmission

A telephone call may consist of an ordinary voice transmission using a telephone, a data transmission when the calling party and called party are using modems, or a facsimile transmission when the two parties are using fax machines. Where a telephone call has more than one called party it is referred to as a conference call.

Calls are usually placed through a network (such as the Public Switched Telephone Network) provided by a commercial telephone company. If the caller's wireline phone is directly connected to the calling party, when the caller takes their telephone off-hook, the calling party's phone will ring. This is called a hot line. Otherwise, the calling party is usually given a tone to indicate they should begin dialing the desired number. In some (now very rare) cases, the calling party cannot dial calls directly, and is connected to an operator who places the call for them.

Most telephone calls in the world are set up using ISUP messages or one of its variants between telephone exchanges to establish the end to end connection.


Some types of calls are not charged, such as local calls dialed directly by a telephone subscriber in Canada, the United States or Hong Kong. In most other areas, all telephone calls are charged a fee for the connection. Fees are charged telephone calls depending on the provider of the service, the type of service being used (a call placed from a hardline or wired telephone will have one rate, and a call placed from a mobile telephone will have a different rate), and the distance between the calling and the called parties. In most circumstances, the calling party pays this fee, however, in some circumstances such as a reverse charge or collect call, the called party pays the cost of the call. In some circumstances, the caller pays a flat rate charge for the telephone connection and does not pay any additional charge for all calls made.


Preceding, during, and after a telephone call is placed, certain tones signify the progress and status of the telephone call:

  • a dial tone signifying that the call is ready to be placed
  • either:
    • a ringing tone signifying that the calling party has yet to answer the telephone
    • an engaged tone or busy signal signifying that the calling party's telephone is being used in a telephone call to another person
  • status tones such as STD notification tones (to inform the caller that the telephone call is being trunk dialled at a greater cost to the calling party), minute minder beeps (to inform the caller of the relative duration of the telephone call on calls that are charged on a time basis), and others
  • a tone (sometimes the engaged tone) to signify that the called party has hung up.



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