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The new telephone exchange equipment offered vertical service code calling features such as call forwarding and call waiting, but often was incompatible with multi-party lines.
Party lines in the United States were also ineligible for Universal Service Fund subsidies, leading telephone companies to convert them to individual lines to benefit from these subsidies.
For rural residents, many were on a single telephone line identified by a number and a property name, such as "Gundabluie 1".
Each party on that single line was identified by a letter, and the ringing pattern for that party would consist of the corresponding letter in Morse code.
A majority of Bell System subscribers in the mid-20th century in the United States and Canada were serviced by party lines, which carried a billing discount over individual service; during wartime shortages, these were often the only available lines.
British users similarly benefited from the party line discount.
93 with ringing code 2 long and 2 short, and written as "93R22", (and if outside the given exchange, then the exchange would be asked for by name before the requested number and ringing code, e.g. "(On the) Rockridge (exchange), (subscriber No.) nine, three; ring one long, and two short," and written as “Rockridge 93R12”.
Many jurisdictions require a person engaged in a call on a party line to end the call immediately if another party needs the line for an emergency.
Such laws also provide penalties for abuse by falsifying emergency situations.
Secondly, if any party on a given line should so be inclined, there was the insidious opportunity to listen in on other parties' calls.
More selective ringing methods were introduced using various technologies.