Modern systems eliminated requirements tying toll-free numbers to dedicated flat-rate inbound WATS lines.
The younger Byars said that he had thought the telephone card was the connection to the municipal WATS line and was unaware that his calls were costing taxpayers.
Tobias installed a WATS line, recruited students to phone bookstores across the country, conducted a customer survey and appeared, 18 and terrified, on " Today ."
Sales of toll-free and WATS lines to businesses and the company's dime-a-minute rate plan to residential customers outpaced results from the second quarter of 1996.
For outbound calls, the 1984 AT & T divestiture brought multiple competitors offering similar services using standard business telephone lines; the special WATS line was ultimately supplanted by other flat-rate offerings.
The requirement that an inbound toll-free number terminate at a special WATS line or fixed-rate service was also rendered obsolete by the 1980s due to intelligent network capability and technological improvement in the + 1-800 service.
However, there were some types of calls that had either no billing, like calls to directory service, or for which the billing was reversed or billed to another number, like WATS lines ( area code 800 numbers ).
WATS lines were the basis for the first direct-dial toll-free + 1-800 numbers ( intrastate in 1966, interstate in 1967 ); by 1976, WATS brought AT & T a billion dollars in annual revenue.
As the series progressed, Fred got into increasingly ludicrous situations, such as : faking an English accent to get a job as a waiter; convincing a white couple that an earthquake was really the " then-nonexistent L . A . subway ( a wordplay on the common phrase " WATS line " ); taking over a play featuring George Foreman; or sneaking into a celebrity's private area, such as Lena Horne's dressing room or Frank Sinatra's hotel room.