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How to have Vonage and another land line?
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IP PBX for small business
On Sep 30, 2016 at 00:48:03

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On Aug 30, 2016 at 10:38:01

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Vonage Blurs Area Code Boundaries

Vonage In Print News

Area Codes Blur Boundaries ("The Customer")

January 31, 2005

By Elisa Batista

Thanks to cellular and internet phones, anyone can make a call from anywhere -- and use any area code in the country.

But the added mobility doesn't always bode well for businesses trying to operate in a messy world of multiple personal phones, calling numbers and area codes that differ from a person's home address.

Some companies may ask what's the point of even having an area code? If anything, the invention of the mobile has been a headache for Domino's Pizza (DPZ).

The fast-food delivery chain has an internal group of people looking for a technical solution for accepting cell-phone orders. Right now, most Domino's restaurants accept orders only from land-line telephones tied to a local address, to ensure that drivers make deliveries to legitimate homes.

"One of our best customer-service and driver-safety tools is caller ID," said Domino's Pizza spokeswoman Holly Ryan. "Cell phones have added the extra step of verifying and tying a legitimate address to a cell-phone number. It's not an insurmountable challenge, but it has added the extra step of verification."

Still don't think that area codes matter? Henry Copeland, a business owner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, begs to differ.

After operating a voice-over-IP, or VOIP, phone with a Boston number for two years, Copeland, who runs a blog advertising firm, bowed to pressure and ordered an additional number -- with a local Chapel Hill area code -- for his internet phone. He got tired of turning down business lunches in Boston and receiving e-mail messages from clients who assumed he lived there.

"When they see a (617) number, they assume, 'He is stuck in snow, he roots for the Patriots, he roots for the Red Sox, he talks with a Boston accent,'" Copeland said. "I got an e-mail today that said, 'Go Pats!' as in, 'Go New England Patriots!'"

Telecom analysts are not at all surprised by Copeland's and Domino's plights. Between the Federal Communications Commission's number portability rule -- which lets cell-phone users take their phone numbers with them anywhere, even when they switch service providers -- and the sheer spike in wireless calling devices, it's no wonder that businesses have had to adapt to the chaos. For one, no one can assume that employees or clients live in the cities tied to the area codes logged by caller-ID systems.

"For a very long time, (415) is going to mean San Francisco," said Kate Griffin, a senior analyst at Yankee Group. "But it won't be an automatic or universal truth. Even now you will hear people asking (a caller), 'Are you in San Francisco?'

"Even, for instance, if you have a (415) cell-phone number and you live in San Francisco, people are used to the fact that you are traveling with your phone."

Griffin expects more roamers to plague companies as more people replace their tethered lines with wireless phones. As of the end of last year, 3.9 percent of U.S. households used their cell phones as their only phones. That number is expected to balloon to 13.6 percent by 2009, according to Yankee Group.

While the Voip phone market is much smaller -- less than 1 percent of U.S. households have internet phones, according to Yankee Group -- that industry showed "strong growth" last year, Griffin said.

The advantage of having a Voip line is that the user can make an unlimited number of long-distance calls for a monthly flat fee. Copeland, who subscribes to the Vonage service, says he pays $29 a month for basic service, an additional $10 a month to get calls to his Boston phone number forwarded to his Chapel Hill line, and between $15 and $20 for additional phone lines, including a New York number for his office in Budapest, Hungary.

The ability to acquire phone lines easily with area codes from different parts of the country is a major draw for businesses, Griffin said. The Yankee Group analyst said that approximately 10 percent of Voip vendors' customers used phone numbers with area codes different from their locations. Many small companies intentionally request the phone numbers to appear larger as a business -- for example, a rural company with a big-city area code. Or sometimes, companies request certain area codes to appear local, Griffin said.

Vonage spokesman Mitchell Slepian echoed Griffin. He said for $5 a month, Vonage sells "virtual numbers" that ring to someone else's main line even though the area codes are different. Parents of out-of-state college students, for example, will often purchase virtual lines so their children aren't forced to call long distance and rack up high phone bills, Slepian said.

For some folks, vanity also plays into their desire for an area code different than their own. "People use the area code selection feature for prestige as well, as there are people who are interested in having (212) New York City numbers or (310) Beverly Hills numbers," Slepian said.

Even though he has a local Chapel Hill number, Copeland insists it's only sheer "stupidity" as to why he continues to spout his Boston number to clients.

"That's not smart business," he said. "That's just not being able to remember the new number."

Of course, with the flurry of new wireless devices and select area codes and all, this only makes Domino's job that much harder. But the good news for the fast-food chain is that help is on the way. The FCC passed so-called Enhanced 911, or E911, rules that mandate the ability for emergency dispatchers to locate cell-phone callers by the end of 2005. Businesses could potentially use the same technology.

"At a very fundamental level, the E911 service (providers) are working through the same problem," Griffin said. "Emergency 911 providers are working with the cellular and voice industries to adapt to this different world."

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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See for details.

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