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Voice & Data Communications Handbook, Fifth Edition (McGraw-Hill Communication Series)
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See also, /r/weirdnumbers and, if you're into that sort of thing (that is, exploring the phone network), /r/phreaking
Old-skool phreaking (eg, using blue boxes and red boxes) is mostly dead (at least in the US and most "first world" countries. Maybe there is some vestige of in-band signaling left somewhere else) but there is still some fun to be had exploring phones and phone networks.
Modern day phreaking is more about GSM sniffing, messing with the SS7 network, using SCTP/SIGTRAN stuff, etc. etc. But, at least for the land-line / PSTN network, even some of the old "colored boxes" still do useful things. You can always beige-box a landline phone, violet-boxes should still work, I think a gold-box would still work, etc.
If you want to dig deeper into how the PSTN works, a good, fun book is Understanding Telephone Electronics by Carr, Winder, and Bigelow. Another interesting one is Digital Telephony by Bellamy. Another "oldie but goodie" is Voice and Data Communications Handbook by Bates and Gregory.
Also, don't ask me how or why I know any of this stuff... :-)
⬐ alcoverI think I know. You were a Ghost in the Wire !
> don't ask me how or why I know any of this stuff...⬐ mindcrimeFunny you would bring that up. So, all joking aside... my introduction to the world of phreaking / hacking was primarily reading Cyberpunk by John Markoff and Katie Haffner about 1995 or so. I was immediately in awe of Kevin Mitnick and his cadre of phreaker friends, and those were the guys/gals me and my little circle of phreaker friends most wanted to emulate. KM was one of my heroes back in those days (and truth be told, I guess he still is to a degree).
What is interesting is that it was only later that I came to know that that book was very controversial, is of doubtful veracity in parts, and may portray KM in a somewhat inaccurate light. Nonetheless, it launched me on my path to a (short and inauspicious) "career" as a phone phreak. But I've remained fascinated with Kevin's story all the way to the current day, and actually just finished reading The Cyberthief and the Samurai and a couple of other books about his story, which I had not read before.