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although subscribers in all but the most rural areas may have had the option to upgrade to individual line service at an additional monthly charge.The service was common in sparsely populated areas where remote properties were spread across large distances.Meanwhile, the electro-mechanical switching equipment required for their operation was rapidly becoming obsolete, supplanted by electronic and digital switching equipment.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.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”.(The two examples cited in this paragraph are taken directly from usage in the 1935 American film Party Wire.) Again, however, it should be noted, whilst this practice was common, it was not ubiquitous, since despite giving a standard configuration for terse, easily interpreted numbers with their respective ring codes, its chief functional drawback was with the first ring always being long and the second always being short, which limited the number of brief and thus practical ringing combinations that could be used on single multiparty subscriber numbers.Such laws also provide penalties for abuse by falsifying emergency situations.In May 1955, a Rhinebeck, New York woman was indicted by a grand jury after her refusal to relinquish a party line delayed a volunteer firefighter's effort to report a grass fire; the fire destroyed a shed and a barn.
This often led to traffic congestion in the telephone network, as the line to a destination telephone was often busy.
In December 1942, University of Tennessee's strategy in an American football game versus University of Mississippi was revealed to the opposing coach as a telephone on the Ole Miss team's bench had been inadvertently wired to the same party line.
In June 1968, the conviction of three Winter Park, Florida men on bookmaking charges was overturned as police had used a party-line telephone in a rented house on the same line as the suspects to unlawfully intercept their communications.
Any handset off-hook therefore tied up the line for everyone.
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.USA Today reported in 2000 that over 5,000 party lines still existed in the United States, but the majority of them were only connected to one telephone, and therefore appeared like individual telephone service at cheaper rates.