Definition

DTMF (dual tone multi frequency)

DTMF (dual tone multi frequency) is the signal to the phone company that you generate when you press an ordinary telephone's touch keys. In the United States and perhaps elsewhere, it's known as "Touchtone" phone (formerly a registered trademark of AT&T). DTMF has generally replaced loop disconnect ("pulse") dialling. With DTMF, each key you press on your phone generates two tones of specific frequencies. So that a voice can't imitate the tones, one tone is generated from a high-frequency group of tones and the other from a low frequency group. Here are the signals you send when you press your Touchtone phone keys:

 

Digit Low frequency High frequency
1 697 1209 Hz
2 697 1336
3 697 1477
4 770 1209
5 770 1336
6 770 1477
7 852 1209
8 852 1336
9 852 1477
0 941 1336
* 941 1209
# 941 1477

A number of companies make microchips that send and receive DTMF signals. The Telephony Application Program Interface (TAPI) provides a way for a program to detect DTMF digits.

Contributor(s): Ed Smith
This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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