Telephones and the internet

Telephones and the internet


In an emergency, you can call the following services by dialling
one telephone number: Fire, Police, Ambulance, Coastguard, Mountain
rescue or Cave rescue.  The emergency telephone number, which is
free, is 999 – you can dial this from any
telephone (including mobile phones) in the UK.  (You can also dial
112 in the UK
Phone Boxand
any other European country).  If you are using a college (internal)
phone, there may be a different number to dial, or you may need
to dial another number first in order to access the public network.
The operator will ask you whether you need ‘Fire, Police or
Ambulance’ and you should explain what service you require.
They will also ask you where you are, so that the help can be sent.
It is illegal to call out the emergency services when there is not
a real emergency, and you may find yourself in serious trouble if
you do this.

Public telephones / payphones

There are public telephones in many places.  Some of them also
give you internet access.  You will usually find illustrations and
instructions to on how to use the phone.  You can pay for calls with
coins, a phonecard or a credit card.  To use a public telephone:

If you are using coins: lift the handset and
insert some money (at least 20p for local calls).  Enter the number.
When your money has almost been used up, you will hear some beeps
prompting you to add more coins or to finish your call.

If you are using a phonecard: see details below.

If you are using a credit card: lift the handset
and then swipe the card through the slot.  You can then dial the
number you want.  It is often more expensive to pay by credit card.

Although most public phones are provided by British Telecom, you
sometimes see payphones provided by another company.  You may also
find payphones inside private buildings, such as hotels, which are
run by the building’s owner, who may set higher charges.

International calls

To call another country from the UK, dial 00
before the country code.  You can make international calls from most
phones, including public telephones, by dialling the number directly.
However it is usually cheaper to use a phonecard or to use an international
calling company.


Pre-payment phone cards are usually the cheapest way of making
an international call, and can also be used for calls within the
UK.  You can buy phonecards from newsagents, post offices and from
some other shops.  Many different companies offer these cards, so
it is good to compare prices when buying one.  To make a call using
a phonecard, dial the 0800 or 0808 number on the back of the phonecard
to be connected to the phonecard company.  Next enter the PIN number
on the back of your phonecard.  Then dial the number you want.

Costs at different times of the day

Phone calls often have different costs, depending on what time
you make a call.  The most expensive time for calls inside the UK
is 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.  It is usually cheaper to make calls
between 6pm-8am and at weekends.  For mobile phones, the evening
rate usually starts later (e.g.  7pm).  With phonecards the rate is
usually the same at all times.

Finding numbers

You can find numbers of local residents and businesses in the
telephone directory.  In the front of the telephone directory you
will find the dialling codes for many countries and cities in the
world.  You can also find contact details for local companies (listed
by subject) in the Yellow
Phone off the hookPages
books, and from their on-line

You can also call one of the Directory Enquiries services to ask
for any telephone number – there is a charge for all of these
services.  Several companies offer a Directory Enquiries service,
with different prices, but all the numbers start 118.  The person
you speak to will offer to connect you to the number they give you
– this will be more expensive than dialling the number directly.
The following numbers are British Telecom Directory Enquiries Services:

UK Directory Enquiries, when you call from a residential phone:
118 500

UK Directory Enquiries, when you call from a public payphone:
118 141

International Directory Enquiries, when you call from a residential
phone: 118 505

International Directory Enquiries, when you call from a public
payphone: 118 060

You can also use the BT Directory Enquiries service for free
This has a link to some international directory enquiry websites.

Direct dialling and the operator

You can make telephone calls by keying the number directly into
most telephones in the UK.  However, it is occasionally difficult
to get a connection.  Or maybe you need to ask a question about using
the telephone.  In this case, phone either the UK operator (100)
or the international operator (155) to be connected.  Both operators
are free services, but if the operator connects you to the person
you want to speak to, the call is charged at a much higher rate
than if you dial yourself.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones in the UK use GSM standards, so if you already have
a GSM phone, you can often just buy a new SIM card and continue
to use your phone.  The main mobile phone
Mobile Phonenetworks
at the time of writing are: T-Mobile, Virgin, Orange, Vodafone,
O2 and 3.  Each of these companies offers various packages and tariffs.
It is best to start by visiting a shop that sells mobile services
for all networks.  Get advice from the shop assistant on the most
economical package for the amount of time you plan to use your mobile
phone – for example, pay-as-you-go packages are more economical
if you do not use a mobile phone very often.  If you send a lot of
text messages, look for a package that makes each text message more
economical.  It is often very expensive to call mobile phones that
are on a different network to yours – so be careful when you
call other mobile numbers! Make sure you investigate all the options
before signing up! Also remember that calls from ordinary landline
phones to mobile phones are more expensive than calls to other ordinary
phones, so people who are calling you may not want to talk for too

The internet and email

Getting an email account

Your university or college may give you an email address to use
during your period of study.  It might not be activated until a few
days after you have registered with your college or university.
You can also get a free personal email address from web companies
such as

Using the internet and checking emails

There are usually places in universities and colleges where you
can use the internet and check your emails, such as a computer centre,
computer rooms in your department and libraries.  There may be restrictions
on what you are allowed to email and download from the internet.
You can also access the internet in some public libraries and internet