A local loop shared by perhaps two, four, eight, or as many as 16 parties. Distinctive ringing comprising various combinations of short and long rings distinguishes a call intended for each individual residence on the shared line. There is no privacy on a party line, as any party can pick up the phone and answer the call or listen in on it. Placing outgoing calls is a free-for-all, as the caller must pick up the phone to determine if the line is available before placing the call. If someone else is using the line, the process must be repeated again and perhaps again and again in hopes that the line eventually will be available. Party lines are now rare in the United States, but not uncommon in rural areas in developing countries.