What’s Happening with 2-Way DIDs?

By Bill Hunter

While other technologies have moved forward at lightning speed, 2-Way DIDs have crawled at a snail’s pace. Probably one of the most exciting telephony developments to come along in years, 2-Way DIDs have just not caught on.

Why? First, I feel that service providers just don’t understand what this technology can do for their business. Second, the arrogant attitude of most RBOCs as to “tariff or not to tariff” has made most service providers gun shy and uncertain as to their availability. Third is the question of present equipment and whether it will work with 2-Way DID.

To understand more about this technology, how it works and what it can do to enhance your business, you’re going to have to do your homework. There have been a number of good articles in Connections Magazine, ATSI’s Answer Magazine, as well as The Communicator and others.

Let’s take a look at the fundamentals of 2-Way DIDs. Simply put, with this service you are in the telephone switching business. You are able to receive incoming calls, identify the call manually or automatically, determine how to process the call, and complete the transaction. One application might be what is referred to as “Follow Me Phoning.” Your customer would have a 2-Way DID number on your automated platform programmed with the ability to locate him automatically or be redirected by the customer to specific phone numbers and be connected with the caller.

With an operator-handled call you can provide your customers with a personalized receptionist service with the ability to redirect and connect the caller to our customer wherever they are. These are just two simple examples of many, many new services you can provide with 2-Way DID such as, Call Connect, Remote Auto Attendant, Audio text, Call Screening, Auto Message Delivery, Operator Revert, Paging enhancements of all types, Alpha Numeric Dispatch, Faxing, and the list goes on and on.

There is money, serious money, to be made with the new services you can provide. The biggest stumbling block that we have encountered with 2-Way DIDs have been the telephone companies. From no tariffs, to in complete tariffs, to tariffs we can’t afford, and poor distribution of facilities, the phone companies don’t have their act together yet! These problems, as well as others, can only be resolved if our industry bands together and demands action!

The Texas Answering Service Association went to their primary telephone company over a year ago with a proposal. They thought they would be provided with service in a timely manner, and still they have nothing. The California service providers have had 2-Way service for some time, but it’s configured and deployed so only the very large service providers can even consider the service.

In the East and Northeast, you can get service on a special assemblage, but it’s restricted to certain types of COs and it is costly. In the Great Lakes area, we have 2-Way DID tariffed, but only from one type of C.O., with no billing information, slightly high priced, with no intention of the RBOC to address any changes.

On the positive side, we have a well-tariffed service in the Southeast and Western Mountain and Northern states. One non-RBOC has the service tariffed in five states, but is only available on T-1. Don’t let the bad news discourage you. Take the battle to our associations and tell the telephone companies that the telemessaging industry wants and demands 2-Way DID service.

The best news of all comes from the equipment manufacturers. Just about a year ago, a small handful could boast that they were 2-Way DID compatible. Today, I don’t know of one manufacturer whose TAS or Voice Platforms are not 2-Way DID ready. Hat’s off to all those companies who realize that the money making potential of what 2-Way DID can do for your business has justified their investment in the future of this exciting technology.

Would you like more information on how 2-Way DIDs work and which applications can enhance your business and make it grow? Call your equipment vendor today! If they don’t know, call their competitors; you’ll get the answers you’re looking for somewhere.

2-Way DIDs are here. There are not going away. And, they will play a significant role in the way you do business for years to come.

Bill Hunter is President and CEO of American Message Centers, a service bureau celebrating their 51st year of service, and American Voice Mail, a manufacturing and industry consulting firm, both in Niles, OH. For comments or questions, he can be reached at 330-544-9777.

[From Connection Magazine, May 1997]

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