While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used.
These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished from other numbers.
Earlier, 976 numbers used 976 as a local prefix (970 or 540 in some markets like New York state), though it was not assigned to a specific telephone exchange like other prefixes.
These numbers were dialed as any other number, such as 976-1234.
Area Code 900 went into service January 1, 1971, but the first known to have been used in the United States for the "Ask President Carter" program in March 1977, for incoming calls to a nationwide talk radio broadcast featuring the newly elected President Jimmy Carter, hosted by anchorman Walter Cronkite.
At that time, the intent for area code 900 was as a choke exchange—a code that blocked large numbers of simultaneous callers from jamming up the long distance network.
Due to complaints from parent groups about kids not knowing the dangers and high cost of such calls, the FTC enacted new rules and such commercials ceased to air on television as of the mid-1990s.
Using 900 numbers for adult entertainment lines was a prevalent practice in the early years of the industry.
The law killed the adult 900 number business, which moved over to 800 numbers, where billing had to be done by credit card.Computer criminals have used premium-rate numbers to defraud unsuspecting Internet users.One scheme involved inducing users to download a program known as a dialer that surreptitiously dialed a premium-rate number, accumulating charges on the user's phone bill without their knowledge.At that time, many evening news agencies conducted "pulse polls" for $.50 per call charges and displayed results on television.One early use was by Saturday Night Live producers for the sketch "Larry the Lobster", featuring Eddie Murphy. AT&T and the producers of SNL split the profits of nearly 0,000.Numbers with the 900 area code were those which were expected to have a huge number of potential callers, and the 900 area code was screened at the local level to allow only a certain number of the callers in each area to access the nationwide long distance network for reaching the destination number.