By William G. Hunter
It has been a long time since the telemessaging industry has had something to get excited about. As we all know, the telephone facilities we need in order to provide service to our customers have changed very little over the past 15 years. Other than a few customer line features, such as call forwarding if no answer and busy call forwarding, our customer’s phone calls are processed by the telephone company and are basically dead-ended at our answering service or voice mail system. This has greatly limited our ability to do very much with an incoming call other than take a message, or upon occasion, patch the caller to another number.
Whether you offer answering service, voice mail, paging, or cellular communications, the advent of new technologies is vital for the future of our related industries.
For the past 3 years, I have taken a personal interest in seeking out new technologies which would impact and change the way we process incoming calls for our customers.
In late 1991, I started working with the concept of 2-Way DID trunks and what they could do. My first endeavor was to contact the telephone companies to find out what they could provide using existing central office facilities. After talking extensively with all the Bell operating companies (and I mean ALL), and a few independents, it was clear they had no idea nor had they ever heard of what I was talking about. This led to months of research and hundreds of phone calls and meetings which have brought us to today.
On July 14, 1993, I introduced an ONA, Open Network Architecture request before the Information Industry Liaison Committee (IILC), an organization made up of telephone companies, manufacturers, and industry related businesses. Accepted and assigned as Issue 042, “2-Way DID” with Call Transfer,” I am pleased to report that this new capability is now a reality.
The term “2-Way DID” is exactly what it implies; this new trunk configuration can receive and place outgoing calls on the same trunk.
Answering Service: Example: Let’s suppose you have an answering service with equipment compatible with this new technology. You would receive an incoming clients call, probably call forwarded, and answer the call in your customer’s name, “Good morning, ABC Construction.” Your temporary instructions indicated that Mr. Smith is in his car today and all calls for sales should be transferred to him. Now comes the 2-Way DID.
By putting the caller on hold, you are now able to call Mr. Smith in his car on the same trunk, tell him who’s calling and connect the caller on hold to Mr. Smith’s car phone. Your trunk is now free to handle the next call. This function means you will no longer patch a caller, but transfer and reconnect the caller in your telephone company’s central office. You can also use these same trunks for out dial paging or delivery of customer messages. This will allow you to eliminate your regular business trunks and use only 2-Way DID’s.
Voice Mail Service: This application for voice mail service will have the greatest impact by far. Now, your voice mail system can receive calls, play customer recorded information, and at the caller’s selection, Push 1, Push 2, or at the customer’s pre-selection, automatically transfer the caller to any other telephone. The market potential for this capability is almost endless. In reality you are now in the Telephone Switching business. And why not! Who is the second largest processor of phone calls next to the telephone company?
Paging Service: Many Paging Companies offer voice mail as an enhancement to their paging service. But like all services using standard DID trunks, their service offerings have been limited. With 2-Way DID trunks, a simple digital display pager can become part of a service package with double or triple the income potential.
Call Screening: With all the talk about CPNI, it’s good and bad features, Call Screening or knowing who’s calling is possible today using live attendants or voice mail with 2-Way DID trunks.
One Call: Today’s business person has more phone numbers for people to reach them than they can remember or print on a business card. With voicemail and 2-Way DID’s the One Number concept is a reality today.
I have been involved in the communications and telemessaging industry for over 30 years and have never seen anything as exciting, with as much potential, as 2-Way DID. As usual with new technology, deployment always takes time. Local telephone account representatives for the most part will have no idea what you’re talking about should you request this service. I will say, however, that the RBOC’s are scrambling to make 2-Way DID’s available sometime this year with one Telco already on line with a tariffed service. American Voice Mail currently has over a dozen voice mail systems on-line successfully using this 2-Way DID feature and profiting.
As someone once said, “All good things come to those who wait, “unless it’s from the phone company. 2-Way DID’s are here today and the impact they will have on the way we do business will remain with us for many years to come.
William Hunter is President of American Voice Mail, Inc., a voice mail manufacturer, and American Message Centers, Inc., a telephone answering service both in Warren, Ohio. He has been involved as a member and consultant to the telemessaging industry since 1964. If you would like information on the availability of 2-Way DID trunks in your area or a voice mail system compatible with this new technology call 800-DID-SMART.
[From Connection Magazine, March 1994]