System Recorded Announcements (SIT Tones)
"We're sorry, you have reached a number that has been
disconnected or is no longer in service . . ."
Ever wonder about the history of these call intercept
messages? In recent years these voice messages are usually preceded by
what is called SIT tones which stands for "Special Information Tone". Here
is a brief explanation of these tones from AHK & Associates website:
"The special information tone is provided for those cases in
which neither the busy tone nor the network congestion tone (fast busy) can give
the required information to the calling party. SIT tones are three precise,
sequential tones, typically applied with a recorded announcement to explain the
failed call attempt to the calling party.
In the United States we use eight SIT tone sequences, which
in turn are a subset of the thirty-two SIT sequences defined by the ITU. The
most common SIT tone is the vacant number intercept SIT (i.e.: the number you
have dialed is no longer in service)." - from
There are many websites that go into more detail on the
technical aspects of these SIT tones and so I won't bother with the details on
this web page. Instead I want to cover the more "human" side of what
follows those tones - the recorded voices.
Perhaps the most famous
to most of us in the USA is Jane Barbe. Jane Barbe
(pronounced "Barbie") was the woman who did the later voice recordings for the
Bell System. Most USA telephone customers know her as the "Telephone Lady". Her
voice is heard by millions of people every day speaking for the telephone
networks (changed numbers, disconnects, circuits busy), Bell Laboratory
computers, The National Bureau of Standards, announcing ETC’s Audichron® time,
temperature, and weather services, and many voice mail systems nation wide. Her
predecessor was Mary Moore (she sounded like a
schoolmarm and said "Fiyiv" and "Nyun" for the numbers 5 and 9 respectively).
Jane passed away in July of 2003.
Another famous recorded voice used by the Bell System was
that of Pat Trumbull. It is difficult for most people to discern between Jane's
and Pat's voices.
to read an article on the Automatic intercept service machine found in an old Bell Laboratories Record magazine.
The following information and
audio files were sent to us during March 2004 by an anonymous visitor to the
Update: We received helpful information from Gadi Niram that
the following recordings are all by Pat Fleet (formerly Pat Trumbull), except
where noted where they are not either.
"BellSouth is now producing its recorded network
announcements in house. Someone in Birmingham is doing them.
I've always been interested in the phone system growing up and always noted the
different [recorded] voices I'd hear.
[The audio links above are] examples of both the AIS and
standard machine intercept recordings I'm referring to so you know exactly who
I'm talking about. Also found above are:
Examples of Jane Barbe doing the so-called "CK-22550" series of
announcements for Southern Bell and South Central Bell. These came out around
1986. According to the old practices and letters I found that were issued at the
time, they were in response to customer complaints of overly loud SIT's on the
KS tapes. The KS tapes had their SIT's recorded at about -10dB whereas the CK
tapes had levels of -24dB. Note how emphatic she sounds on many of them.
Examples of Jane Barbe doing the "BS1991 LATA" series of announcements
for BellSouth. These came out in 1991 in response to continued customer
complaints. Testing revealed that the Automatic Gain Control circuit was jacking
up the level by about 8dB on startup. The letter I saw didn't specify what
announcer frame was causing the trouble, but mentioned techs adjusting the
levels, which leads me to think the Western Electric 13A machine was the trouble
(the NT announcers made under the Cook name at the time did have adjustments,
but few offices used them and some test calls I made do seem to indicate the 13A
does this). Supposedly the SIT levels on these were 10dB below voice, which is
normally -22dB, so I guess that would make these -32dB, but I'm not sure
Audichron really got this right. The Bellcore practice was changed the first
time, but not the second time, so it still calls for -24dB.
Probably the last announcement Jane did for BellSouth, the NPA split
for Mobile, AL. This is in .wav form directly from Audichron, so you get to hear
Jane just as the techs heard her.
As we receive more info on this topic it will be posted here.
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