International calls: From the first cable of 1876 to calling long-distance in 2018

We remember the cable that connected New Zealand to Australia and the rest of the world, and examine the ins and outs of making an international call today.

On February 18, 1876, the first direct cable link was established between New Zealand and Australia.

Via this connection with Australia, New Zealand could then communicate with the rest of the world.

[Read more: Discover how using your phone in the EU is much cheaper]

The photo below taken on that historic day shows men on Botany Bay’s La Perouse beach in New South Wales hauling the telegraph cable as it arrived from across the Tasman Sea. In the background are the cable-laying ships Edinburgh and Hibernia, which belonged to the Eastern Extension Australia & China Telegraph Co. 

Photo credit: Flickr

According to Atlantic Cable, the cable – which measured 1370 nautical miles (1577 miles) - landed at 7.30am; just 20 minutes later a connection was established.

Fortunately it’s a lot easier to call a New Zealand today – here’s how it’s done:

How to make international calls from the UK

To dial an international number you need the following:

  • International Access Code (also called Exit Code): Dial 00 from the UK
  • Country code: So to dial New Zealand use 64
  • Area code: Enter this before the phone number. Calling New Zealand, Auckland is 9 and Wellington  4.
  • Phone number: Enter the individual phone number

So to call Auckland New Zealand you dial: 00 64 9 XXXXX

International dialling codes

To make an international call you need the country code.

For a full list of international country codes check out BT’s The Phone Book website. Click Find a Dial Code from the top, and from the purple drop-down menu choose Country code by name. Select the country you want from the main drop-down menu.

BT Phone Book

BT Phone Book website 2

Do you drop the area code ‘0’ when dialling abroad?

Many domestic phone numbers have a trunk prefix. This is typically 0 and is used before the area code. For example when dialling Birmingham from within the UK, you dial 0121 and the trunk prefix is ‘0.’

When calling the UK from abroad you drop the 0 prefix. The same applies to dialling UK mobiles.

Many other countries use trunk prefixes, so to call an international numbers drop the ‘0’. Exceptions include Italy and some former USSR countries. When calling Finland, Iceland and Turkey the first 0 or 9 should be dropped.

BT’s The Phone Book website has a list of internal area codes and information specific to each country.

How much does an international call cost?

International call costs vary depending what country you are calling and whether you are calling a mobile or landline.

When calling abroad from a BT Landline, BT splits countries into bands A, B and C.

Call rates are below, for a full list check out the International Tariff Guide.

 

BT Mobile call costs

Calling abroad from your BT Mobile phone

Call costs vary depending where you are calling. With BT Mobile's Roam Like Home you can use your UK call, data and text allowance in 47 destinations at no extra cost.

To check call costs go to BT Mobile and click Mobile calling costs, which is on the top menu. Select 'International and roaming charges.'

Use the drop-down menu to pick a country and view a list of International charges and Roaming charges.

For more information on BT’s place in communication history visit BT Archives.

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