Business telephone lines
Telephone service has come a long way since it was invented in the late 1800s. In the early days, telephone service was primitive and selective. Not everyone had a telephone, nor could we call everyone or everywhere. Only towns that put up the poles and ran the wires had service, and even then, many people had to share a telephone line.
Today, telephone service is taken for granted. Businesses use voice mail and computerized answering machines to take messages, to network computers across town or across the country, and to send fax transmissions to offices around the world. The basic business services that allow us to call across the start is.
We all have seen in old movies a switchboard operator struggling with a tangle of wires and plugs. Today's larger businesses have replaced the switchboard operator with a PBX (private branch exchange) system. A PBX is a computerized telephone management system that is ideal for a company with many employees and individual phone extensions. It allows a single telephone number for a business to be accessed at the same time by numerous outside callers. As each call is received, it is automatically routed to the appropriate extension via a touchtone phone or with the help of a receptionist or operator.
A multi-line telephone system is often the preferred choice in a small business. It allows us to answer an incoming call from anywhere in the office and to route it to another telephone at the touch of a button. If one line is being used, we can access another to make an outgoing call.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that is rapidly growing in popularity in many businesses today. This technology allows for sending telephone audio over the Internet rather than traditional telephone lines. The advantage is low cost local telephone service and long distance.
Internet Protocol phones look just like normal phones, but instead of the normal RJ-II phone connectors, they use an RJ-45 Ethernet connector and are connected to your computer net work. Internet Protocol phones have all the software and hardware to handle Internet Protocol calls.
Other business telephones:
A wide variety of other available business telephones combine telephone service with computer operations. Many of these more sophisticated telephones are equipped with special features, such as buttons and lights to designate different lines. More modern telephones use computer-like LED (light emitting diode) displays to designate and select lines as well as to indicate the number dialed. Others are programmable to store frequently called numbers in the telephone's memory. Some have speaker telephones built into free up one's hands while talking. Still others have automatic radiating. Intercom capabilities, and built-in answering machines.
Voice mail and answering machines:
When we are away from our desks and no one else can cover our telephone, it is important that we use an answering machine or computerized voice mail system. We do not want to miss critical calls for our boss or for ourselves. Customers now expect the use of such devices, no matter what size company we work for.
Many different types of answering machines are available. Some use audiotapes to play an outgoing message and to record incoming messages. Others record messages digitally using built-in computer memory. Even the most inexpensive answering machine can automatically record the date and time of the call and allow the person being called to retrieve messages from remote locations. This last is an essential feature to look for, especially if boss is frequently away from the office. He or she does not have to wait to make contact with us to collect messages but can call in any time from home or on the road. By using a code combination from touchtone telephone, the boss can listen to messages and even record a new outgoing message.
Computerized voice mail systems, often used in larger companies, usually consist of a computer system along with a modern connected to the telephone line. These systems accept incoming calls and route them to various voice mail boxes for each employee. All messages are stored in the computer's memory or on a hard drive. The use of a touchtone telephone is usually required to access voice mail boxes and to leave and retrieve messages.
Special telephone services:
Many telephone companies have a variety of special services that enhance the performance of business telephone system, no matter which model we have. These services may vary from one part of the country to another.
Here is a description of some of the more common services available:
Call waiting is useful for individuals and small businesses that have only one incoming telephone line. When we are on one call, we are alerted by a tone that another incoming call is waiting. If we wish, we can put the current call on hold and switch to answer the new incoming call.
Select call waiting permits only the calls the user has programmed into the telephone to keep him in the call-waiting mode.
Call forwarding allows us to redirect calls intended for our telephone to another telephone of our choice√,¬-ideal when we or our boss must spend extended time at another location.
Select call forwarding enables us to program our telephone with a list of only those people we want to be able to contact us at the forwarding number.
Three-way conferencing allows us to call more than one person at a time so that three or more people can participate in the same conversation.
Caller ID shows us on a visual display the name and number of the person calling. Caller ID lets us use our telephone like a pocket pager, enabling us to decide whether to take the call, return it later, or ignore it.
Busy number redial continues to dial a busy number automatically until the line is free. The telephone then alerts us when the line is ringing.
Selective call acceptance allows us to program our telephone with a list of only those people we want to contact us. When a person on that list calls, the call rings through to our telephone. No other calls are allowed to get through.
There are many choices for long distance service. A host of smaller, regional long distance companies market themselves to specific parts of the country. These services may or may not have their own long distance networks. In many cases, they purchase blocks of long distance time from a common telephone carriers and then resell that time to small businesses and individuals.