History of Phone Sex in Canada

Why Phone Sex?

Phone sex is a great way to work out pent-up sexual tension.

It’s convenient, discreet, and can be done from just about anywhere. It has a long and complicated history that reveals just how quickly technological shifts can transform an industry. Over the last 40 years, phone sex has become something completely different from the form in which it started. And, it’s gotten more titillating. Its development in Canada specifically has largely followed that of the U.S. but with a few key differences.

In spite of how obvious the idea seems, phone sex didn’t immediately follow the invention of the telephone. One of the early drawbacks was the fact that there was no way to reliably keep a call private. If someone connected to your line or picked up the phone, they would hear every word of your conversation. This was usually someone in your own household. Not an ideal situation for such a sensitive activity. Commercializing the activity presented more hurdles. It required an organized method of payment that simply did not exist in the early telecommunications infrastructure.

A Porn Star made it Popular.

As the industry became more evolved and more complex control of the systems became possible. One remarkable woman became a trailblazer for what would come to be an explosively profitable industry. Gloria Leonard became one of the first porn stars to achieve wide recognition for it around 1974. Within three years, she was staking her claim as a major pioneer of the phone sex industry.  She opened the first commercial phone sex chat line as part of her duties as editor of High Society magazine. This initial version wasn’t even live!

Callers would phone the advertised number to hear a pre-recorded, rather tame sexual message. It worked on the pay-per-minute model that has become so familiar. It is still popular despite the fact that it was limited by the length of the recording. This simplistic, somewhat primitive form of phone sex was soon retooled and reinvented by companies. They were looking to capture some of the sizeable market shares that Leonard’s idea was creating.

The Introduction of Payment Options.

Initially, payment for these telephone-based services was collected by the phone companies themselves.

Companies would set up a premium line that would charge incoming calls at a specific per-minute rate. Public complaints that phone companies were sanctioning sex work soon put a stop to this practice. But it would not stop them. Phone sex companies switched to selling predetermined blocks of time for specific prices. This was a billing model they could independently operate and enforce.

Under this new business model, a customer’s time on the line would not be measured per minute for a variable fee at the end but would be constrained to the amount of time that they paid for (usually sold in ten-minute increments). This would sometimes lead to rushed service as the phone sex operators tried their best to satisfy a customer early and maximize their available time to turn a profit. It also made the services’ pricing more predictable and possibly more affordable for those who tended to get carried away. It represented a significant change in the way the industry conducted business, despite the fact that it didn’t last long.

Eventually, the controversy mostly died down. The industry then turned to toll-free (1-800 numbers) in order to maximize the potential customer base. These new lines did not charge a fee for calling the service. They accepted credit card payment during the process of connecting the caller to their phone sex operator. This made the service more accessible to those who were unfamiliar with how such businesses were typically run and priced, allowing them to make queries without immediately incurring a fee.

900 Numbers

This was a very important feature due to the controversies that had begun to surround premium-rate phone numbers in the late 80s and 90s. 900 and 976 numbers had started to look seedy and predatorial to the general public. This led to phone sex’s existing image problem.

Toll-free numbers allowed phone sex businesses to drop all that baggage and get a fresh start. It let them continue to operate with minimal interruptions in their income stream. These numbers could also be called from cell phones in all countries. (an advantage that the previous types did not have after extensive regulations began to crop up). As cell phones grew more ubiquitous over the years, 900 and 976 numbers became far less common. They finally disappeared almost entirely. As of 2016, almost all remaining phone sex voice lines are toll-free numbers. Most run on the original per-minute billing scheme of the very first phone sex companies. 900 and 976 numbers are slightly more common in Canada due to less stringent regulation, but their popularity has generally died down.

900 and 976 numbers are slightly more common in Canada due to less stringent regulation, but their popularity has generally died down. We added the #1050 simply dialing system.  We are not planning on going anywhere.

Mobile changed it all again.

The dawn of texting revolutionized many industries. Given how central communication technology is to phone sex, it’s no surprise that it completely turned the industry on its head. Instead of using voice to conduct phone sex business, you can text your sexy messages and scenarios instead.  this specific iteration of phone sex would eventually come to be termed ‘sexting.’

This development allowed the business to become much more discreet (while not necessarily recommended, you can theoretically do text-only sexting pretty easily in a crowded public place). It runs on a completely different model than traditional phone sex. It requires a lot of optimization to make it as easy as possible for consumers to access it and for service providers to bill for their time.

This meant making use of the texting innovation of shortcodes. A way of making it faster and easier to connect to a phone sex service by typing a memorable word into your phone keypad rather than a full-length phone number. These can be anywhere from 3 to 8 letters long depending on what part of the world you’re in, although the most common length is 4-5 letters.

Canada’s codes are required to be 5-6 letters long due to some of our unique telephone handset configurations, and may not start with the number 4. The codes typically use the number-to-letter keyboard interface to spell out a word or abbreviation related to the industry operating the line. For example, a sexting line might use the short code ‘SEXTS,’ making ‘73987’ the number that the consumer needs to type out. Customers pay a fixed fee for each text sent to a short code number, but some services may run on subscription models as well.

A trusted enterprise?

In order for a business to acquire a functioning short code in Canada, they must submit an application for it to the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the industry’s main regulating body. Applications are not accepted without completing extensive paperwork and testing. During this process, the CWTA verifies all parts of the proposed. Texting arrangements, including billing, keywords, additional services and even the service website work effectively is screened. This, and any additional promotional content the service wants to release. Because of this stringent regulation, you can rest assured that when you text a phone sex line in Canada, you’re contacting a legitimate and vetted business. One that is properly run according to strict standards.

As phone services begin to blend more and more with Internet-based services like VOIP and online messengers, phone sex will continue to change. Already, new innovations like video chats and cam girl shows are taking over some of the remote sex work market, powering the growth of hybrid sex services. As Internet access becomes ubiquitous, companies like this will probably become the new face of phone sex. But given its longevity, the concept is unlikely to die entirely. Whatever the future holds, it’s sure to be just as exciting as the lively story of how phone sex came to be.