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International Call Routing

Date Posted: 2007-05-02

Welcome to my first article with Japan Update. Through these articles, I look forward to try making the complex world of telecommunications a bit easier to understand. This first article will be focusing on how your international calls from the U.S. military bases on Okinawa are routed to your family members in the states.

Just by dialing a number, we can instantly talk to people in other countries around the world as if they were living next door to us. However, have you ever thought of what it takes to complete that call? Itís a lot more complicated than you may think!

Calls from on-base are made using the Defense Switching Network (DSN). Using various methods (such as cables, fiber optics, switches, and microwaves), the DSN interconnects all military locations worldwide. When using telephones within the base, a customer has to dial a special access code to let the DSN switch route your international call.

Since the DSN is set up to interconnect military telephone systems throughout the world, the US military must use domestic telephone companies of the host nation to connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Once the military telephone switch recognizes that the customer is dialing an international number, a connection is made with the domestic telephone company's switch off-base. This local telephone switch uses a common digital language to recognize that the on-base user would like to connect their call to a number outside of the host country.

Once the local switch recognizes which country code (such as "1" for the US, or "63" for the Philippines), the switch automatically chooses the best route for sending the call. Usually this is done via an undersea fiber optic cable, but in emergencies where the cables may be damaged, (like the earthquake in Taiwan late last year) calls are routed through the most viable connection to that country. During times like this, calls may be routed in the opposite direction or sent via satellite transmission.

The call now passes along the intercontinental cable until it reaches the first telephone switch in the destination country. At this point, this telephone switch looks to see what area code was dialed after the initial country code. Using the same type of system that it traveled along in Japan, the call is routed to the proper area code, and then on to the specific telephone where your special someone is waiting for your call. 

Although this seems like a time consuming process, modern technology has given us the ability to complete this process in a matter of seconds.

Now that you know how your calls our connected, make that call to your loved ones! They will be glad to hear from you!

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