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A local phone call in India normally costs between Rs. 1 and Rs. 5, depending on where you make the call. Some deluxe hotels have coin-operated public phones that take a Rs. 5 coin or a token purchased at the hotel reception desk. To use a public phone, dial the number, then deposit the required coin once the connection has been made. There is a three-minute time limit that can be extended to six minutes. If you use an International Subscriber Dialing/Subscriber Trunk Dialing (ISD/STD; see International Calling, below) facility, a meter will record the duration of your conversation, and you pay the proprietor the required amount. The dial tone sounds, but often after you dial the number, you hear a pulsing tone for some seconds before the ring cuts in.

Domestic long-distance calls are expensive and can be made quickly through a computer system called Subscriber Trunk Dialing (STD), which is available in most hotels, through specially designated public phones, and at private ISD/STD offices, which are easily spotted by their bright yellow signs.

When using a public STD booth, check the meter reading before you pay to see that the time on the slip matches the actual time used on the phone and that the number recorded on the slip matches the number you dialed. Rates decrease by 50% after 6 PM and 75% after 9 PM.

If you are unable to find an STD facility, you must book long-distance calls through an operator. To reach the operator, dial 180.

International Calls

The long-distance services of AT&T, MCI, and Sprint make calling home relatively convenient and may let you avoid hotel surcharges (check before you make your call); typically, you dial a local number. The local access numbers are AT&T, tel. 000-117; MCI, tel. 000-127; Sprint, tel.000-137.

International telecommunications can be subject to long delays but most hotels, airports, and post offices are connected to the computerized International Subscriber Dialing (ISD) system, which eliminates the need to book a call through an operator. With ISD, you just dial 00, followed by the country code, the area code, and the number. There is no surcharge for using the ISD system, but most hotels will add their own surcharge, which can be extremely high. Check before you use the hotel facility. To avoid the surcharge, make your calls at ISD/STD offices. Even then, the price will be around $3 a minute to most places in the world.

Operators & Information

If you are unable to find an ISD facility, you must book long-distance calls through an operator. To reach an international operator, dial 186.

For local telephone number information, dial 197. For domestic long-distance information, dial 183. Speak slowly, but don't be surprised if the operator just hangs up on you. India is modernizing its phone system, and the operator may not even have the latest number. Also remember that the number of digits in phone numbers often varies.

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