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Navigating Institute Phone Network, Distance Calling

By Alice S. Wang


To the freshman navigating the jungle of MIT’s campus, anything and everything can seem to glow with mystery and fascination -- from the Greek letters that overhang fraternity houses to the oddly-shaped auditorium that is Kresge. The first-year student may be just itching to dial home and brag to parents and younger siblings.

But how?

When a new undergraduate may not even know his own phone number, conquering the Institute phone system may seem out-of-reach.

Not to worry; with a little guidance, all freshmen should be well on their way to conquering MIT itself, or at least being able to tell their little brothers that they did.

Campus numbering system

If one is on campus, it is necessary to dial only the last five digits to reach another number on campus. To call outside campus but within the “617” area code, press “9,” then “617,” and then the seven-digit number.

In the case that your dorm telephone number slips your mind, there’s no need to walk all the way downstairs to the front desk. Simply dial “9400” on any campus phone to get the number from which you are dialing.

What if you meet someone during Orientation who lives three floors down from you, but you’ve lost his number?

In many of MIT’s dormitories, a room’s number and its telephone number are related. To determine the former from the latter, simply learn to recognize the pattern in each dorm’s system.

In Baker House, for example, the five-digit extension always begins with a “57.” If the resident lives on floors 1 through 3, the extension ends with the room number. For residents on floors 4 through 6, the last three digits of the telephone number is the room number minus 250. Similar systems exist in all the Institute Houses.

At Burton-Connor, however, the telephone number does not correlate with the exact location of the room. All Burton-Connor telephone numbers are assigned in a consecutive fashion, from 5-8121 to 5-8489. Therefore, find a friend’s number by adding to or subtracting from your extension the number of rooms between yours and the friend’s room.

If all else fails, just try dialing “0” for MIT directory assistance.

Local and long-distance connections

If you live in on-campus housing and want long distance service with your MIT number, you have the option of using Campuslink or, well, Campuslink. While popular alternatives include cellular phones and/or calling cards, Campuslink remains the sole MIT long-distance service provider.

To sign up online, visit or call 1-800-962-4772.

It is also possible to sign up for voice mail and Call Waiting services via Campuslink without using their long-distance service. To use Campuslink on campus, a PIN number is necessary to place direct-dialed calls. Campuslink also issues a calling card, so it’s possible to call long distance for 15 cents per minute even when not in the room.

Campuslink’s standard plan this fall is a 9.9 cent-per-minute rate to call anyone in the United States.

Alternate rates include a 3.9 cent-per-minute plan with a one-time charge of $75.00 for the year, as well as a 2001-minute plan with a one-time charge of $129.00 for the year.

Nancy Keuss contributed to the reporting of this story