Expanded International Conference Call Plan

Can a participant join your conference call from their country?  

If you host a diverse conference call with guests in remote countries, network access numbers might not exist.  But this shouldn’t stop your call.

Expanded Global Conference Calls

The Expanded Plan includes in-country toll-free access in over 100 countries plus local access numbers in 50 worldwide cities.

In addition to convenient dial-in access methods enabling an attendee to login with either a local or toll-free number from inside their country, the Expanded Plan also gives the chairperson dial-out capability.

How does the dial-out option help you add inaccessible attendees to your call?

In a nutshell, the dial-out feature enables the leader to call out to any phone number globally without disturbing the meeting in progress.  This means the leader of the call can add a participant on demand in any country.

The attendee simply answers the inbound call to their phone and is immediately added to the call.

For instance, recently a customer based in New York had a project in progress in Ghana.  There is simply no easy way for the Ghana attendees to access the call.  So, the chairperson uses the Expanded Plan with the easy dial-out feature to add the Ghana guests to their weekly calls.  The other attendees located in the US and Kenya access the call using the supplied toll-free numbers.

In addition to the dial-out feature, the Expanded Plan also offers a free App that enables connecting to the conference room using any web enabled device such as iPhone, Android, Blackberry or a PC and MAC desktop.  The Connect App makes dialing in using traditional toll-free or local numbers unnecessary as long as the attendee has a WiFi connection.

Be careful with the company you choose

Some companies offer local international access numbers that you can give out to your global call participants but they may not work.

Bad, non working access numbers are obviously something you want to avoid especially on an important business conference call with a potential client, existing customer or with a regular team meeting call.  Some of the problematic services with non-working overseas access numbers are touted as cost free.  The saying is still true, you get what you pay for.

The Expanded Plan is an all inclusive, high powered, intercontinental business collaboration tool with global access numbers guaranteed to be operational 24/7.

In addition to the many methods of accessing your call, the chairperson can always reach a 24 hour U.S. based operator who will connect anyone, or fix anything required.

Learn more about the Expanded Plan here






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How to Host International Conference Calls

How to Host International Conference CallsTasked with hosting an international conference call? It’s not as easy to host international conference calls as it is to do so domestically for several reasons. First, you have time zone and language differences to contend with. Second, different countries have different dialing conventions and international calling costs. And third,  if you’re trying to do it with your office conference phone, it may not be able to handle a large volume of conference call participants.

Here’s how to host international conference calls with ease:

In addition to the normal method of accessing a conference via a phone, one very convenient free optional feature customers enjoy is to use the Connect App.  Essentially this is another option to access a conference call using a web enabled device.

The Connect App work from smartphones and PC’s or Mac desktops.

Connect tools let users quickly schedule, start/join and manage their audio conferences and Web Meetings.

These tools provide an option to have the bridge call the user instead of having to dial an access number, enter a passcode or chairperson PIN, saving time joining a call and avoiding incorrectly entered numbers for the Toll Free, access code or PIN.

These Connect tools also provide the same functionality to participants when the meeting is scheduled using the free Calendar Tool.   If you are also using Web Meeting, meetings can easily be started or joined from the same invitation/link.

1. Use a world time zone map or calculator to determine the best time for the majority of your call’s participants. It’s not always possible for all participants to attend your live call during local business hours. However, you may be able to find a time that works well for most attendees.

2. Choose a conference call service provider that specializes in helping businesses host international conference calls. Ideally, the provider you choose will support all of the countries involved as well as offer affordable rates. Keep in mind that some countries have higher international calling costs than others. To contain these costs, consider using the service provider’s “dial out” feature. By dialing participants directly, you will get a much lower per minute rate. Dial out can usually be pre-programmed so that those calls will be placed automatically by the conference calling system.

3. Choose local or toll free numbers for your participants’ countries. One of the biggest challenges you will encounter when you host international conference calls involves providing access to the conference room. This is because each county has its own unique calling conventions. A toll free number in the United States, for example, doesn’t work in Italy. The trick is to provide callers with either local or toll free numbers that work in their respective countries. These numbers will then connect to the global conference call.

4. Record the call. When you host international conference calls, there’s usually an option to record the call. By all means, do so. You never know when you might want to listen to it again or share it with others. For example, you may want to use the recording for training purposes or have the call transcribed and translated. Participants who were unable to attend the call in real time could listen to the call after the fact. Recordings are also helpful for those who speak a different language as a first language. By providing a recording of the call, they can go back and listen to sections that they had a hard time keeping up with originally.

When you host international conference calls, many challenges can be overcome by choosing a global conference call service provider that specializes in overseas teleconferencing. Choose wisely and your international conference calls are sure to be successful.

Learn more about hosting international conference calls here

View details about Conference Calling here

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How to Get SMS Text Messages Sent to Your Business Email Account

SMS Text ForwardingSMS text messaging is extremely popular among users, but more cumbersome to manage from a business perspective. However, because so many of your customers prefer to communicate by texting, you’ll need an efficient way to facilitate that.

Here’s one of the best ways to receive SMS text messages from your customers and partners directly in your business’s email: SMS call forwarding numbers.

  • Sign up for a dedicated SMS call forwarding phone number. SMS forwarding phone numbers are a type of virtual phone number that accepts SMS text messages and then forwards them to the designated email box. You can also receive phone calls on the designated ring to phone number.
  • Choose your desired phone number. Currently, we offer SMS-enabled virtual numbers in select countries including USA, Canada, UK, and Romania. You can choose from toll free and local numbers.
  • Set your destination number. This is where any voice calls will be routed.
  • Set your email address. This is where your SMS messages will be forwarded. Both the sender’s caller ID and text message will be included in the email.

That’s it, you’re now ready to begin receiving SMS text messages in your business email account.

Many of your customers, partners, colleagues, and other business contacts prefer texting to talking on the phone. Providing them with a channel in which to do so is easy, even if you use a traditional PBX phone system. While they may be texting on a mobile phone, you’ll receive their messages in your inbox where you can quickly view them, forward them, respond, and more. You can even manage your SMS messages from your online account dashboard.

Like our other virtual phone numbers, SMS-enabled call forwarding numbers are available without a contract. Choose the monthly plan that’s right for you and let the texting begin.

Learn more about SMS Call Forwarding and Text Messages here

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When 3-Way Conferencing is Not Enough — How to Hold a 10-Way Conference Call with Global Participants

10 person call communicationMany business and residential phone systems offer 3-way calling as a standard feature. It’s a great way to bring a third party into an existing call, but it’s not nearly enough for more robust conference calls.

Plus, if you need to bring in someone from another country, 3-way conferencing can become tricky and expensive.

Our global conference calling plans are an affordable, easy-to-use alternative with no minimum usage requirements or monthly fees. You can host conferences with just a handful of attendees or dozens quickly and easily. As an example, here’s how to hold a 10-way conference call with participants from around the world.

Identify Each Participant’s Countries

Since there are several access options which do vary from country to country, you’ll want to gather some information before the call to ensure that each participant has an easy means of connecting to your conference call. Below are the more common access scenarios for international attendees:

  • Toll free access numbers — These are country-specific access numbers, so a caller in Italy, for example, would dial a toll free number that’s local to Italy. The access number then connects the caller to the conference bridge — all without the caller incurring toll charges or having to request operator assistance to make an international phone call.
  • Local access numbers — Again, these are regional. Your Italian participants could be given a local phone number for Naples, Rome, Milan, or another city in Italy. If they’re in that particular calling zone, then they’d avoid toll charges because it would be just like dialing any other local number in their community. Meanwhile, the call would be routed to the conference bridge.
  • Access via our Connect mobile app — Another option is to connect via our Connect app, which takes care of the dialing with just a quick tap.
  • Moderator dial out — There are a few countries with limited access numbers or per minute costs that may be higher than you’d like. For participants in those countries, consider using the moderator dial-out tool to call them and patch them into the call rather than the other way around. Dial-out rates are nice and low, too.

Choose a Global Conferencing Plan

The countries you’ve just identified will guide you in choosing the most appropriate global conferencing plan. Our plans are as follows:

  • USA – Canada conference calling — Perfect for cross-border conference calls involving participants in USA and Canada.
  • Legacy conference calling — This is one of our most popular plans. It includes global access numbers for 119 countries.
  • Expanded conferencing calling — Our expanded plan increases the number of access numbers to 150 including local city and toll free numbers.

Each of the above is offered on a pay-as-you-go basis with no contracts, no activation fee, no early termination fee, and no minimum usage requirements. You pay only for the minutes consumed in global conference calls — all at extremely competitive per minute rates.

Calculating the Cost of a 10-way Global Conference Call

Using the countries involved, you can estimate the cost of the call by looking up their rates.

Let’s use a 10-minute, 10-way international conference call as an example of costs using current costs as of December 2017 (rates subject to change).

Caller 1 – USA, Toll Free $0.026/minute, total cost = $0.26

Caller 2 – Canada, Toll Free $0.026/minute, total cost = $0.26

Caller 3 – Italy, Rome $0.07/minute, total cost = $0.70

Caller 4 – Philippines, Dial-Out $0.11/minute, total cost = $1.10

Caller 5 – Hong Kong, Toll Free $0.08/minute, total cost = $0.80

Caller 6 – Russia, Moscow, $0.10/minute, total cost = $1.00

Caller 7 – Monaco, Toll Free, $0.12/minute, total cost = $1.20

Caller 8 – South Africa, Johannesburg, $0.13/minute, total cost = $1.30

Caller 9 – Brazil, Toll Free, $0.16/minute, total cost = $1.60

Caller 10 – Guam, Toll Free, $0.026/minute, total cost = $0.26

Total cost of the 10-way global conference call: $8.48 USD

Since there’s no ongoing costs and no penalties for non-usage, you could create an account and use it just this one time — or you could use it as needed, paying only for the conference calls you hold.

It’s important to note that while our rates are low, our service is phenomenal. This is NOT a cheap unreliable VOIP plan; it’s a PSTN global conference calling plan known for its quality and reliability.

The next time you need to host a conference call, whether global or local, give us a try!

View more details about Global Conferencing here


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How to Use Desktop Video Conferencing to Hold a Parent Support Group Board Meeting

Board Meeting Conference CallSchool parent support groups (PSGs), or “booster” clubs as they’re often called, often run on shoestring budgets with limited resources. Board members tend to be parent volunteers who juggle full-time work with their volunteer activities.

Most board meetings take place at the school, in a restaurant, or at a member’s home. Video conferencing for PSGs and booster groups has previously been unattainable due to the costs, equipment, and long-term commitments involved.

That is changing with Video Pro’s affordable month-to-month plans. Holding a board meeting using desktop video conferencing can save everyone time and hassle while still accomplishing everything you need to accomplish.

Here’s how to use desktop video conferencing to hold a booster club board meeting.

Use a Month-to-Month Plan

Many booster clubs are active for just a few months per year such as during football or marching band season. Rather committing to a full year, choose a month-to-month video conferencing plan and use it only during your PSG’s active season. Perhaps you want to meet using a video conference during the summer months when board members are on vacation and then in person once the school year begins. A month-to-month plan gives you that flexibility, allowing you to turn on and off the service and keep your costs low.

Determine How Many Active Cameras You Really Need

Our plans are based on the number of attendees and active cameras. For most PSG boards, the basic 10-attendees-and-4-cameras-plan will be just right. In a typical board meeting, not all board members will need to appear on camera. You might have the coach, president, treasurer, and ways and means chairperson on camera with everyone else contributing to the conversation via VoIP or phone. Meanwhile, they’ll benefit from being able to see the presenters and any shared resources placed on the computer screen. They’ll also be able to contribute to collaborative notes, exchange messages in chat, or take over the presenter controls as needed.

Holding the Board Meeting via Desktop Video Conference

Once signed up for a plan, you’re ready to begin hosting board meetings via video conferencing:

  • Schedule your board meeting with your fellow board members as usual, making sure to provide them with the video conference log-in instructions. Video Pro is all browser-based, so there’s no software to install. If they know how to use a simple website, they know how to use Video Pro!
  • Show your secretary how to add the agenda to a collaborative note as well as how to use the private notes feature to take the meeting minutes from within the video conference. Your attendees will be able to contribute to collaborative notes, saving everyone time. For example, your ways and means chairperson could fill in the details for upcoming fundraisers, allowing everyone else to skip note-taking for that section of the meeting.
  • Plan your multimedia presentations and gather any necessary files for sharing with the group. For example, screen sharing allows you to share a PowerPoint presentation, your team’s new uniform design, or even YouTube videos.

Your board may be skeptical about attending a board meeting from the comfort of their homes at first, but the convenience, audio and video quality, and time savings are sure to win them over.

Try a free 30-day trial today

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How to Host a Press Conference Versus a Conference Call

Press Conference CallPress conferences don’t always involve a spokesperson standing at a podium in a roomful of reporters.

While that’s a common scenario at the White House, in the movies, or for big and breaking news stories, holding in-person press conferences isn’t practical for smaller news stories. Hosting a press conference using a conference call is a practical alternative with a broad reach (including international if required). Here’s what you need to know.

How Conference Call-based Press Conferences Work

Conference call-based press conferences work much like any other type of conference call in that the host sets up the conference call, invites participants, (in this case, members of the press), and interacts with attendees during a live call.

However, there are a few considerations with a press conference.

  • Access — For example, is this a local story, a national one, or an international one? If you’re inviting local reporters only, access to the call is less complicated than if you’re inviting a larger press pool or international reporters. Fortunately, we offer local, domestic, and international access numbers, making it easy for reporters to join your conference from around the world.
  • Convenience — The easier it is to initiate and manage a conference call the better. Our dashboard, mobile app, and phone menu features are user-friendly and ready to be used on short notice. You can even record your press conference quickly and easily.
  • Call management — For many press conferences, especially those with large audiences, it may be necessary to book an “event conference call” rather than a standard conference call. With this service, our live operators assist with the logistics of the call while a dedicated event conference call director oversees everything. For example, we manage the question and answer queue, prioritizing and presenting relevant questions so that you can focus on communicating with the press and not on scrolling through a list of questions.
  • User experience — The press has the option to join your press conferences or not. If your agency’s press conferences have horrible sound quality or are poorly managed, your attendees may leave early, if not right away. They may not join future press conferences, resulting in less reach for your stories. Our domestic, international, and event conference calling plans use modern digital fiberoptic PSTN networks for crisp, clear connections every time.

Tips for a Successful Conference Call-based Press Conference

  • Provide local or toll free access numbers (this includes international access numbers for international correspondents) — No one wants to worry about using up their personal minutes or paying long distance. We offer local and toll free access numbers for cities and countries around the globe.
  • Start and end on time — Journalists are busy and have tight deadlines, making it important to adhere to your stated timeline.
  • Explain how to access a recording of the conference call (if applicable) — If you will be recording the call, let attendees know how to access the recording after the call. For example, will you email it upon request or post it to your website?
  • Take advantage of our event conferencing services — As the spokesperson for your organization, you don’t have to do it all. Our event conferencing team is here to help.

Learn more about domestic or international press conference calls

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How to Change a Global Virtual Number’s Destination Number

Virtual Number ChangeGlobal virtual numbers are special phone numbers that lack a permanent, physical phone connection. Rather, these numbers are routed to a destination phone which rings when the virtual number is called. With our global call forwarding service, you can change the destination number as needed.

Here’s what you need to know.

Depending on your needs, you might designate a “ring to” phone that’s located in your office, home, or a call center. You could even designate a mobile phone. When you first order one of our global virtual phone numbers, you’re initially prompted to enter its destination number. However, you might want to change it for various reasons. For example:

  • One-time ring-to number changes — Let’s say your virtual number has been ringing to your main office for several months, but call volume has increased and it’s time to have your call center take over. Switching the ring-to number from your main office to your call center would be a permanent or semi-permanent change. Likewise, if the physical office where your ring-to number rings has to change all of its phone numbers due to a move or area code change, you’d need to change the destination number to the new physical phone number.
  • On-the-fly ring-to number changes — You may also want to change the destination number more frequently as various scenarios play out. For example, small offices may need a few hours without incoming phone calls during meetings, training, or special events, in which case, changing the ring-to number so that another branch office can handle those calls would ensure that callers receive the help they need while the office staff attends to other matters.

Regardless of why you might like to change a virtual number’s destination number, the process is a simple matter of logging in to your global virtual phone number account with your account number and PIN and then editing the “modify to” field with the new ring-to number. Click the Submit Modifications button to complete the process in real time.

  • Periodic ring-to number changes based on time of day — For many businesses, especially global ones that receive calls originating in countries in different time zones, changing the destination number based on the time of day makes a lot of sense. For example, your main office might close at 5:00pm local time, but your callers in a different country or time zone are still calling during normal business hours for their locale. To solve this, you could set up your virtual number’s ring-to number to change to another call center or office that is able to take those calls at that time of day. While you could do this on-the-fly each night, using our time-of-day call forwarding option automates this process.

The ability to change the destination number for your virtual number makes our global call forwarding numbers extremely versatile and portable. Offered on a monthly basis with no contracts and with competitive pricing, there’s no risk in getting started with your own virtual number. Cancel at any time. There’s no need to wait for the phone company or commit to a given location or plan for the long term. Get started today and change your destination number as your needs change.

read on


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Origins of Telecommunications: The Role of Microwave Communications

Microwave tower communicationConveniences such as telephones, electricity, and microwave ovens have changed how we communicate, live and work, and even cook our meals. While we’re all familiar with the household microwave, did you know that microwave technology is commonly used in telecommunications? It’s not just for cooking food!

Microwave communications began to be developed in the 1940s by Western Union as a means of wireless data communication, much like radio communications. In fact, radio waves and microwaves are neighbors on the electromagnetic spectrum.

Western Union had already been in the business of sending telegrams across wires and later, wirelessly over radio waves. For example, in 1904, its technology could send two telegrams simultaneously on one wire; by 1914, capacity increased to the sending of 8 telegrams simultaneously on a single wire; by 1944, that capacity had increased to 288 telegrams on two wires. Sending signals over radio waves and microwave towers, 2000 telegrams could be sent simultaneously.

Western Union’s first experimental microwave relay system was authorized by the FCC in March 1945 between New York City and Philadelphia. It consisted of a series of terminals and relay stations.

Microwave signals can be blocked by obstacles, so a series of tall towers within line-of-sight from one to the next is required to ensure messages reach their intended destination.

Western Union wasn’t the only company to work on microwave communications, but it was definitely one of the early entrants. Other companies experimenting with microwave communication included Philco, Raytheon, AT&T, and IBM / GE.

Just as Apple, Google, and Samsung often get into patent and intellectual property disputes with one another, these early telecom companies had their share of battles including disputes over FCC’s microwave frequency allocations, licensing, and transmission tariffs.

Today, microwave communication is still commonly used by several industries particularly in rural, mountainous areas or countries where establishing physical lines is difficult and cost-prohibitive. Microwave towers can transmit data over long distances without wires, making this technology attractive to telecommunications services providers, power utilities, and public safety agencies.

In the telecommunications sector, microwave is used to transmit wireless and landline communications alike as well as Internet data. Broadcasters also use microwave communications for video and radio transmissions.

As with the evolution of other telecommunications technologies, microwave communications technology has moved into the digital era. Digital microwave systems tend to have more reliable, advanced technologies with modern protocols and higher bandwidth.

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“Microwave Communication – Towers and Remote Monitoring.” n.d. Accessed November 23, 2017. http://www.dpstele.com/network-monitoring/microwave/index.php

“Patent US2705752 – Microwave Communication System – Google Patents.” n.d. Accessed November 23, 2017. https://www.google.com/patents/US2705752

“The Economics of Innovation in the Telecommunications Industry – John R. McNamara – Google Books.” n.d. Accessed November 23, 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=UWTe7hkjYkYC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=western+union+microwave+communications+patent&source=bl&ots=No0QDHsBcK&sig=t6ktRePOo8tqRmuOrItwUw7xcDg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjQ-rDSwNPXAhVD32MKHbUgA5YQ6AEILTAD#v=onepage&q=western%20union%20microwave%20communications%20patent&f=false

“Western Union Microwave Network Survey | History Sidebar.” n.d. Accessed November 23, 2017. http://blog.historian4hire.net/specials/wutco-survey/

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How to Divert Calls from Africa to USA

Johannesburg Ponte BuildingCountries throughout Africa are developing rapidly, making the entire continent a broad and compelling market.

US business providing goods or services in African markets can benefit from call diversion.

Here’s how to divert calls from Africa to USA.

  • Get a virtual number specific to the African country you are serving — We have global virtual numbers for many countries in Africa including South Africa, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Morocco, Egypt, and others.
  • For example, you can get a local or toll free Kenya virtual phone number that works exactly like any other Kenyan phone number to callers in that country. Even the ringtone that the callers hear while the call is being routed to your US phone number would sound familiar. There’s no international country or exit codes for your callers to worry about, and their costs, if any, would be as expected (or free if you choose toll free).
  • When ordering your virtual phone number, you’ll first choose the country from the dropdown list and then choose from available options such as toll free or a regional / local number for the country. Depending on your choice and number availability, you may also be prompted to select the specific phone number you would like to use. If not prompted, your new African call divert number will be provided upon activation.
  • Choose your USA ring-to number — This is the phone that receives the calls from Africa. Because your call divert numbers are virtual, you can assign them to any phone in the world. Note that you can change this ring-to number at any time and this includes call forwarding to any phone or VoIP/SIP address in any country.
  • Choose the most appropriate calling plan — Our international call diversion plans are available in several tiers, all on a monthly basis with no contracts. You can cancel at any time, making it easy to test the service or use it for short-term calling needs.
  • Set up time of day routing — There’s a large time difference between Africa and USA, making it smart to divert your calls on a specific schedule based on the time of day. You may want to divert calls to your East Coast office at one point in the day and then to your West Coast office at another time to allow for a live response as calls come in from Africa. For times when it’s not practical to answer the calls live, you could also set up voicemail to answer. All of these time-of-day options can be configured so that they happen automatically.
  • Share your new call divert number — Once activated and configured, it’s time to start using it.

Diverting calls from Africa to USA is easy, convenient, and affordable. You can get started in minutes.

Read on about global virtual numbers and international call forwarding here

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Origins of Telecommunications – History of Telephone Operators

Telephone Operators 1952When you think of the classic telephone switchboard operator of yesteryear, what image comes to mind? Chances are, it’s a kindly woman, cheerfully greeting and connecting callers.

While that image is largely accurate, the first switchboard operators were actually teenage boys, many of whom were curt and rude. And, while the profession is generally considered obsolete thanks to the evolution of technology, live operators are alive and well today. Here’s a quick look at the history of telephone operators.

Boys at the Switchboard

From the late 1800s through the middle of the 20th century, early telephones required the use of switchboards and human switchboard operators to physically connect phone lines so that people could speak to one another. The first telephone operator was George Willard Croy who started working for Boston Telephone Dispatch in January 1878.

Other teenage boys were hired, earning a reputation for being rude and rambunctious.

The First Female Operator

The new male-dominated profession soon gave way to an influx of female operators, starting with the hiring of Emma Nutt in September 1878. She was hired by Alexander Graham Bell who reportedly believed that female operators would be a solution to the existing rude and unruly workforce. Emma Nutt was the world’s first female telephone operator, and her sister, Stella, became the world’s second just a few hours later.

With her soothing voice and polite demeanor, Emma became the ideal model for the profession. Within two years, nearly all telephone switchboard operators were women. Not only were women considered a better choice for the job due to their kindly and courteous nature, they were paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Emma Nutt reportedly worked 54 hours per week for a salary of just $10 per month.

Job Qualifications

Women flocked to the new profession, seeing it as a step up from working as a maid or in a factory. Plus, getting hired as a telephone operator didn’t require any special skills. The job qualifications involved passing height, weight, and arm length tests to make sure they physically fit in the cramped quarters of a central switching office. By World War I, more than the New England area had more than 8,000 female telephone operators.

Job Duties

The job itself involved answering the incoming call, asking for the number, and then connecting the corded plug into the appropriate circuit on the switchboard. Telephone operators were not allowed to speak to one another and were expected to sit with perfect posture for long hours, all the while maintaining a pleasant demeanor to callers.

It was a high pressure job with intensive supervision and military-like discipline. Many operators were expected to work two shifts per day with a three-hour break, unpaid, in between, resulting in an extended and exhausting work day.

Telephone Switchboard Operators Go On Strike

In 1919, New England Telephone Company’s telephone operators went on strike seeking higher wages and better working conditions — and causing New England’s business community to come to a screeching halt. Their demands were met within a week’s time. They won the battle (a wage increase, better working hours, and the right to organize) but in an unintended consequence, ultimately lost. Phone companies wanted to reduce their reliance on operators, and they did by introducing automatic dialing telephones which eliminated the need for local switchboard operators.

Telephone Operators Today

While the classic switchboard operator of the past became obsolete, live operator assistance is still available, albeit in a different form. For example, 911 operators play a critical role in emergency response systems. Likewise, live operators are commonly used to help manage the technical logistics of international conference calls and large teleconferences.

Read on about international telecommunications here

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“Emma Nutt: The Woman Who Made History by Answering the Phone.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2017. http://time.com/4011936/emma-nutt/

“RichardHowe.com | Women Telephone Operators on Strike – April 20, 1919.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2017. http://richardhowe.com/2011/04/20/women-telephone-operators-on-strike-april/

“Switchboard Operator – Wikipedia.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switchboard_operator

“Telephone Operators – Engineering and Technology History Wiki.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2017. http://ethw.org/Telephone_Operators

“Telephone Operators Strike.” n.d. Accessed October 27, 2017. https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/telephone-operators-strike.html

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Origins of Telecom – Clandestine Communications

Clandestine CommunicationsNecessity, they say, is the mother of invention. In the case of organized crime, the need to stay under the radar of authorities required finesse and innovation.

Meanwhile, crime fighters have an ever-present need to catch bad guys and provide admissible evidence of their wrongdoing.

Below are a few of the early telecommunications technologies used on both sides of the law.

Secret Signals

Secret signals, such as an elaborate knock on the door or animal calls, have long been used by criminals to communicate. The 19th century “father of criminology,” Hanns Gross, described “contact calls,” which were almost always animal imitations, as a means of communication between criminals during the commission of a crime. For example, burglars wouldn’t want to make unwanted noises that would draw attention to themselves, but they might need to signal their partners in crime. By using animal calls, like an owl’s hoot, they could do just that and no one else would think twice about it.

The Black Box – Untraceable Phone Calls

A previously respectable inventor, Walter Shaw, invented a device for the mafia that was called the “black box.” This device allowed callers to make free long distance calls that were untraceable. Not only could criminals discuss their nefarious deals without incurring toll charges, authorities would never be able to trace those calls or prove a phone conversation took place.

The Dictograph

The Dictograph, which arrived in the early 1900s and ushered in the wiretapping era, was a device used to pick up sounds in one room and transmit them to a device in another room. Live stenographers were often stationed in the second room to listen in and transcribe conversations. The Dictograph could be configured two ways: as an intercom in full view or stripped down and hidden to secretly monitor conversations.

Companies like Standard Oil and Westinghouse soon began using the Dictograph as an eavesdropping device as did the US Secret Service and other government agencies. It was later used in legislative offices, recording bribes and other misdeeds. The Dictograph became an important tool among police, private detectives, and lawyers. Because of the potential for being used for evil, the device was not sold to the general public and was available only via a lease or rent, with up to 800 devices reportedly available for rent in Chicago alone. Criminals likely used the Dictograph as well, with blackmail being a logical use case.

Bug Detectors

Whether concerned about law enforcement, political enemies, criminals, or other nations listening in, the wiretapping era created a new need: detection of listening devices. One such device, a “covert transmitter detector,” was patented in the 1960s and was able to detect radio signals emitted from bugs without the need to tune into each specific frequency.

All kinds of gadgets exist today to listen in to or escape detection. Law enforcement officers use “stingray” devices to trick cell phones into connecting to bogus cell phone towers so that they can determine the cell phone’s location and intercept incoming and outgoing communications. Those seeking privacy, including business users, activists, journalists, whistle blowers, and criminals alike have the Tor network, which completely anonymitizes their online communications. Though technology may evolve, it’s an age-old story where tools can be used for good or for evil.— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

“Clandestine COmmunications.” n.d. http://www.markmirabello.com/uploads/3/9/5/9/395973/clandestinecommunications.pdf

“Dictograph | Definition of Dictograph by Merriam-Webster.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Dictograph

“HOots, Crows, and Whistles: Criminals Using Animal Calls as Secret Signals.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.annmarieackermann.com/animal-calls-as-secret-signals

“Patent US2193102 – Dictograph – Google Patents.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.google.com/patents/US2193102

“Patent US3473127 – Covert Transmitter Detector – Google Patents.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017a. https://www.google.com/patents/US3473127

———. “Patent US3473127 – Covert Transmitter Detector – Google Patents.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017b. https://www.google.com/patents/US3473127

“Tor: The Good. The Bad. The Anonymous.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.serviceobjects.com/resources/articles-whitepapers/tor-network-whitepaper

“Turns Out Police Stingray Spy Tools Can Indeed Record Calls | WIRED.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://www.wired.com/2015/10/stingray-government-spy-tools-can-record-calls-new-documents-confirm/

“Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance in America, 1862-1920 – Kerry Segrave – Google Books.” n.d. Accessed November 10, 2017. https://books.google.com/books?id=USZiBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA165&lpg=PA165&dq=wiretapping+detector+invention&source=bl&ots=QBwcvZLVrz&sig=1wnvwRI70ph3vm59R9GoHEABmXE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjRhLmyiLXXAhXE0FQKHaCsBfUQ6AEIbTAM#v=onepage&q=wiretapping%20detector%20invention&f=false

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How to Set Up an Informational Help Line

Informational Help LineInformational phones numbers are commonly used to relay recorded information to callers. For example, in a crisis or natural disasters, callers could call a toll free number to hear the latest advisories or find out about road closures.

Businesses often use informational telephone recordings to relay information about job openings, requests for bids, or product information. Recordings can also be used for educational or entertainment purposes.

If your organization commonly relays the same information over and over, it may make sense to set up an informational helpline where callers can dial in to hear your message. Here’s how to do it.

  • Obtain a virtual phone number in either a local or toll free format. With virtual numbers, you do not need a physical phone in order to receive calls or set up outgoing recorded messages. You can designate a “ring to” number and change it frequently. In this use case, you can either configure the main number as a “sizzle” number or set up a series of message only extensions.
  • Option A – Set up a “sizzle” number. A sizzle number is a type of informational phone number that plays a prerecorded message, much like a voicemail message but longer and without the prompt for callers to record a message for you. Instead, callers listen to your recorded message.
  • Option B – Configure the virtual phone number so that the auto attendant routes callers to various “message only” extensions. Each extension can address a specific topic. For example, the initial greeting could prompt callers to press ‘101’ for information about your request for proposals, press ‘102’ for information about a product recall, or press ‘103’ for current job openings. From there, you’d set up each extension with the appropriate recording.
  • Set up your calls to action (if any) – Recorded messages used to be relatively passive. Callers called the informational help line, listened to the information, and then hung up. With one of our modern virtual phone numbers, you can make your help line much more interactive by adding calls to action. For example, you could instruct callers to visit your website, prompt them to leave a voicemail or press a button to speak to a live person, or ask them to answer yes or no questions using an interactive voice response system.

It’s helpful to plot out your informational help line’s script and menu system on paper before recording your messages. Simplicity is key to a good user experience, so keep that in mind as you design your prompts.

Our virtual numbers are both affordable and offered on a month-to-month basis with no contracts, making it quick and easy to set up informational help lines as needed — even for temporary projects. Thus, you could set up individual help lines for each of your projects. Once the project is over and the information no longer needs to be put out there, you can cancel the help line with no consequences.

Global Call Forwarding
Toll Free and Local Numbers Worldwide

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Cross Border Business – How to Set Up Call Forwarding Numbers for Mexico-USA Phone Calls

By Alex Covarrubias, 9 April 2006 Based on the arms by Juan Gabino. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsUS businesses with partners, suppliers, or customers in Mexico are often geographically close, such as is the case with San Diego and Tijuana, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, El Paso and Juarez, but internationally challenged.

While free trade agreements help keep goods and services flowing across borders, the simple act of making a phone call can still cause friction between people on both sides of the border. Setting a Mexico call forwarding number is one way to ease the burden. Here’s how to do it.

Choose between Toll Free or Local Call Forwarding Numbers

Toll free call forwarding numbers for Mexico are ideal if your partners or customers are located throughout Mexico. They work just like toll free numbers in the United States in that callers are not charged for the call, but you can set them up so that while the number originates in Mexico, the call actually rings to a phone in the United States. In Mexico, you can choose a traditional or mobile accessible toll free number.

On the other hand, if your business caters to Mexican customers in a specific city, such as Tijuana, Mexico City, Puebla or Monterrey, getting a local call forwarding phone number for that city adds to your business’s local appeal. While you’ll set up call forwarding to ring to a US phone, to callers, it will seem as if they are calling a business in their own community.

Select the Phone Number

As you work your way through the sign-up process, you’ll need to select your new call forwarding number. First, select from Mexico Toll Free, Mexico (1800) Mobile Accessible, Mexico Mobile Accessible, or any one of the dozens of listed Mexican cities. Depending on the type of number selected, the number may be provided to you upon activation. If given a choice, choose the new number that you like best.

Enter Your USA Ring To Number

Also called a destination number, this is the phone where you’ll answer your incoming calls from Mexico. You can change this number at any time, making cross border call forwarding a flexible communications option.

You can also configure your Mexico call forwarding number to ring to specific extensions or to different phone numbers in a specific order. The built-in voice response system serves as a virtual PBX system, routing callers to the appropriate person, department, or voice mailbox.

Choose a Monthly Plan and Any Options You Might Want

Our Mexico call forwarding numbers are offered month-to month, in several plans: Basic, Value, Power, Premium, and Enterprise. Each plan includes a predetermined number of minutes and advanced features. Optional features like call recording and rollover minutes are available. Activate your new call forwarding number and share it with your contacts in Mexico.

Flexibility Built In

Setting up cross border call forwarding numbers between Mexico and USA is an easy, affordable solution for any US business with partners, suppliers, customers and other contacts in Mexico. It’s also extremely flexible, especially with our contract-free service that scales up and down as your needs change. You can even cancel with no penalties, no questions asked.

Read on https://www.aitelephone.com/global-call-forwarding.html

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How to Set Up International Communications for a Remote Branch Office

Communication Contact Phone ConnectionAs a business expands internationally, it often becomes necessary to open satellite offices or use international call forwarding numbers to communicate with suppliers, partners, and customers in the new market.

In many cases, using international call forwarding numbers can eliminate the need to establish a physical office completely. If you do have a physical location, you can use these same numbers strategically to keep your international calling costs as low as possible.

Setting Up A Branch Office to Receive Incoming International Phone Calls

Your branch office employees will need a basic phone system with local phone numbers just as they would if located within your same country, so the initial set-up process is the same. However, those local numbers will be international phone numbers to everyone outside of the branch office’s country, complete with potentially high international calling costs.

If you’d like your domestic team to be able to dial up the remote office without the added confusion and high cost of international long distance, using an international call forwarding number is a convenient, cost-effective option.

Order an international call forwarding number that’s local (or toll free, if desired) to the callers’ country. For example, if your main office is in USA and your branch office is in Brazil, you’ll want to order an international call forwarding number that originates in USA. That way, it will look and act like any other USA phone number.

Set the destination or “ring to” number to the branch office’s main phone number. In this example, you’d set it up so that the USA number rings to your branch office in Brazil.

Setting Up a Branch Office for Outgoing International Phone Calls

Now, do the reverse so that your branch office employees can place a local (or toll free) phone call to reach your main office in another country. In this example, you’d need to order a Brazil call forwarding number and then set its ring to number to your main USA office number. Once complete, your Brazilian branch office employees can call your main USA office simply by dialing a local phone number.

Advanced Techniques

In either case, advanced features such as auto attendant, time of day routing, and more can be set up to provide even more value. For example, if you have bilingual staff members who speak English and Portuguese, you could set up sequential routing so that the incoming calls ring to those staff members first. Likewise, instead of buying an expensive phone system for a small branch office, you could set up your international call forwarding number to serve as a “virtual PBX” system, complete with individual extensions and voicemail boxes.

Your business will still incur international calling costs using this strategy. However, bypassing each country’s default international dialing options is a great way to save money. Our international call forwarding rates are extremely competitive, and all calls are carried over modern PSTN telecommunications networks for the highest audio quality available. 

View services aitelephone.com

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How to Set Up International Audio Conference Calling for Branch Offices

Conference Calling for Branch OfficesIf your business consists of a main office and one or more branch offices around the world, setting up audio-based international conference calling is an excellent way to facilitate teamwork and communications.

With audio conferencing, there’s no special equipment needed. All anyone needs is a standard telephone, a local access number, and availability to participate.

Our international conference calling service offers local and toll free access numbers for countries around the world.

Here’s how to set up your conference calls with easy access for global branch offices.

  • Sign up for one of our pay-as-you-go international conference calling plans. These are no contract plans with support for countries around the world, exceptional call quality, premium features, and low per minute costs. Ideally, the plan you select should offer local or toll free access numbers for the countries in which your branch offices are located. If the country is not supported, that’s okay as you can dial and connect those locations manually.
  • Plan your first international branch office conference call. Your branch offices will be given local or toll free access numbers unique to their own countries along with a conference PIN number to enter the call. Meanwhile, participants located in your own country will dial a domestic or toll free access number to join the call. You could have participants dialing in from USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, and other countries, all dialing unique and local phone numbers to join your call.
  • Identify any branch office participants that might need to be connected manually. This can happen if the branch office is located in a country that is not supported with local or toll free access numbers or where the per minute international rates are higher than you’d like. In either case, the workaround would be to use the chairperson dial-out feature or operator assistance. You could also encourage those users to connect using the free CONNECT app. This free app is a convenient choice for participants using web-connected smartphones or in countries that are not supported with local access numbers. The Connect app works worldwide, connecting participants with just a tap.
  • Each branch offices can be a sub-account of the main conferencing account.  For example, a bank with it’s headquarters in the US has international branches located in the London UK, Madrid Spain, Paris France and Australia.  Each of these branches can have their own independent set of pass-codes to host on demand conference calls from their location.  All usage is detailed for end of the month billing with calls itemized by branch office for cost accounting purposes.
  • Host your first audio conference. Once the logistics have been worked out and the appointed time has arrived, host your conference call. All participants from your main and branch offices will dial their country-specific access codes, connect via the Connect app, or be connected manually using the dial-out feature or operator assistance. They’ll enter the conference room PIN and be joined into a group audio conference call.

Since our service is a pay-as-you-go audio conferencing plan, you can hold global conference calls with your branch offices according to a schedule of your own design. There’s no need to maintain a minimum or pay for services you’re not using. And the audio quality is beyond compare. Sign up for a trial account and start audio conferencing with your branch offices now.

learn more here

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How to Get a Virtual Number for Canada that Rings to a Phone in the United States

Business between Canada and USAUS-based businesses often do business with partners and customers in Canada.

As with other international communications, local phone numbers help to avoid negative perceptions and make it easier for Canadians to call your business in the United States.

Here’s how to set up a virtual number for Canada so that it rings to a phone in the United States.

What is a Canada Virtual Number?
A Canadian virtual number is a type of international remote call forwarding number that can be set up to ring to a physical phone located somewhere else, such as in the United States. To the caller in Canada, the number looks and acts like a local or toll free number. For example, it could have an area code for Toronto, Québec, or one dozens of cities in Canada, yet you can set up the call to be answered in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or whichever city you prefer.

Ordering and Configuring a Canada Virtual Phone Number
Our contract-free worldwide call divert plan is easy, affordable, and highly configurable to best meet your call forwarding needs. Here’s how to order and configure your virtual number:

1. Choose the Canada virtual phone number type — You’ll be presented with several choices: Toll free (1-888, 1-877, 1-866, 1-855, 1-844, and 1-833), premium toll free (1-800), and more than 100 cities across multiple area codes. For example, if you want a local Edmonton phone number, scroll through the list and choose one of the Edmonton area codes offered.

2. Choose the phone number (if offered) — Depending on the selection, you may be shown the new phone number right away. If so, click the dropdown to see other available phone numbers and make your selection. If not, the phone number will be provided to you upon activation.

3. Enter your destination phone number — This is the phone number where your incoming calls from Canada will be forwarded. You can change this number at any time. For example, if you want your calls to be answered at your main office in Boston, enter that phone number here.

4. Select the desired monthly plan — We offer several plans with different levels of prepaid minutes. If you would like optional rollover minutes, make sure to click the checkbox next to “Add rollover.” Optional call recording is also available after your account has been provisioned.

5. Complete the transaction — Follow the prompts to add your plan to your shopping cart and complete the transaction.

From there, your account will be activated and a confirmation email sent to you. The confirmation email will contain the following information:

• Your new Canada virtual phone number
• Your account number, PIN, and Customer Portal address

To view your call history, change your ring to number, or manage your account, simply log into the Customer Portal. Remember, you can upgrade or downgrade your account as needed or cancel at anytime.

Learn more  https://www.aitelephone.com/global-call-forwarding.html

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How to Collaborate Face-to-Face with a Distributed Team of 4 to 10

video conferecingWhether you’re a freelancer or a corporate employee, teamwork has become increasingly global.

Your team members could be located in another building — or another country. While talent should know no boundaries, collaboration is at its best when team members can interact face-to-face.

Modern collaboration tools bring us together. However, they can bring another set of challenges like individual software and/or platform requirements for each team member, long-term contracts, and ongoing costs.

For a small organization or team with limited resources, this can lead to a patchwork of tools that may or may not be suitable for group collaboration.

Ideal Collaboration Tools for Small Distributed Teams

Collaborating with a virtual team requires several online collaboration tools. The must-haves include:

  • Audio conferencing
  • Video conferencing
  • File sharing

Easy enough, right? After all, you could use your business phone system to initiate a small conference call, use Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive to share files, and use Google Hangouts, Skype, or FaceTime for those meetings where face-to-face collaboration is essential. But wait, we’re getting into that “patchwork of tools” zone.

In order to be effective, tools need to be readily available and easy to use. They need to facilitate your meeting, not interfere with it. It’s not unusual for attendees to arrive to videoconferences late because they had to download, install, and configure a plug-in or client before they could join in.

For face-to-face team meetings, an all-in-one video conferencing solution that runs in a web browser is ideal. Your teammates already have a web browser and are comfortable using it. With such a solution, participating in a team videoconference is a simple matter of clicking a link and interacting. Eliminating the need for special software and plugins means everyone can jump right in, without having to install or learn anything new.

Browser-based video conferencing typically provides multiple ways to exchange information such as via voice and text chatting or file sharing. Video feeds from webcams bring participants face to face while screen sharing tools deliver presentations, YouTube videos, graphics, or step-by-step software demonstrations directly to the desktops of each participant.

Video Pro Conferencing – Your All-in-One

Fortunately, Video Pro Conferencing’s Basic plan is an ideal solution for the face-to-face videoconferencing needs of a small, distributed team — and it won’t break your budget or require a long-term commitment. You can even try it free for a full month with no obligation and no credit card required.

For a team of up to 10, we suggest signing up for the Video Pro Conferencing Basic account, which allows for up to 10 attendees and four cameras per meeting.

It’s loaded with professional video conferencing features (such as screen sharing, pass presenter controls, chats, collaborative notes, recording, free VoIP audio, and more) and is available on a month-to-month basis with no contract.

Best of all, your teammates won’t need to hassle with new software or plugins. Simply send them the link to your next video conference and begin collaborating!


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How to Host a Large Event Audio Conference

Operators at Call CenterThere’s a big difference between hosting an audio conference amongst your team and hosting an audio conference with hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees from around the world. Not only does the technology need to be rock solid, you’ll need extra human resources on hand to manage various aspects of your global event conference call. Here’s how to host an operated assisted event conference call.

Choose the Right Audio Conferencing Service

As noted above, hosting an audio event conference with hundreds of attendees requires much more from both a technology and human resources standpoint.

  • Technology requirements — First, you’ll want to be sure to select an event audio conferencing service that can reliably support the number of attendees you plan on hosting. Next, make sure that support extends to the countries your attendees will be joining from. For example, if you’re hosting a worldwide event, you’ll need to offer international access numbers. Another important consideration involves the underlying telecommunications infrastructure powering the audio conferencing service. The best audio quality, reliability, and experience comes from a PSTN network rather than VoIP.
  • Human resources requirements — Even with the best audio conferencing technology at your disposal, managing thousands of individual callers while simultaneously managing the content of your conference is a recipe for disaster. Operator assistance with live operators dedicated to your event is essential. These operators handle details such as greeting participants, dialing out, answering questions, troubleshooting, and more. You can even have a dedicated line for communicating privately with the event project manager during the conference call.

We offer “white glove” operator assisted event conference calls over a global PSTN network that supports up to 10,000 attendees from around the world.

Plan Your Audio Conference Event

As with any large event, working out the details and advanced planning are crucial to the success of your audio conference. You’re not on your own here. We offer personalized support and a dedicated event manager to help plan your event and oversee operations before, during, and after the event. Typical tasks include:

  • Event logistics – Determining the optimal time and date, length, number of attendees, number of live operators needed, countries involved, international access, web components (if any), file sharing requirements
  • Sending invitations and reminders
  • Preparing an agenda and time limits
  • Identifying attendees who will need to be manually connected to the conference (such as those who live in countries lacking access numbers)
  • Rehearsing the audio conference

Launch The Audio Conference Event

All that planning will pay off during the live audio conference, and your event manager will continue to hold your hand throughout the event. Let us take care of the logistics while you concentrate on delivering value to your audience. It’s that easy. We’ll even record the conference call so that you can later review it, repurpose it, or share it with others.

Review and Follow Up After Your Audio Conference Concludes

After the conference call, there’s just a little housekeeping to do. You may want to review attendance reports to get a better idea as to who attended and for how long. You might want to jot down your thoughts in a lessons learned document so you’re even better prepared for your next large event. You may have a list of questions from attendees to review and answer. You might want to upload the audio recording to your website and make it available to people who were unable to attend the event live.

Hosting a large international audio conference does not need to be intimidating, especially when you have a team of live operators assisting and a global telecommunications network capable of supporting up to 10,000 attendees from around the world.

Operator assisted event calls

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How to Set Up International Call Forwarding Hunt Groups

Call Forwarding Hunt GroupGlobal call forwarding numbers are an important communications tool for any international business, including enterprise organizations and small businesses alike. By design, each virtual call forwarding number is assigned a destination “ring to” phone number.

Thus, a phone call made using a global call forwarding number is forwarded to another phone, often in a different country, that rings and is then handled accordingly.

The actual phone call can be handled in any number of ways. At its most basic, the call would be answered and a conversation started. If the call goes unanswered, the next logical step would be to have it go to voicemail. However, this is not always desirable, especially if you have human resources available who could promptly answer the call.

Hunt groups are commonly used in businesses and call centers to make sure calls are handled promptly by live agents. The phone systems themselves can be configured to either ring all extensions simultaneously or ring the next available extension in the “hunt group.”

If you set up your global call forwarding number to ring to the main telephone number for a business or call center, the call will be treated by the phone system much like any other call using that phone number. Thus, you may have some sequential ringing already in place at the physical location thanks to how the phone system is set up.

With virtual phone numbers, however, your destination phone number may be dynamic, changing based on the time of the day or other factors. You might even have a distributed team and lack a PBX system altogether. Fortunately, an advanced call forwarding feature, sequential ringing, gives you greater control over how each incoming call is handled. Using the sequential ringing feature, you can set up a global hunt group to ensure that your incoming calls are handled appropriately.

How to Set Up Sequential Ringing

The process itself is a simple matter of selecting Sequential Ringing and entering up to four phone numbers in the desired sequence. It’s helpful to sketch it out on paper first.

  • Determine if the main number’s existing sequence should be bypassed. You might not want your virtual numbers handled in the same way as most calls coming in. For instance, you may have a handful of people responsible for answering your global phone calls. Who are those people and what are their direct phone numbers and extensions?
  • Determine if fluency in the caller’s language needs to be considered. If so, you’ll want to make sure that only those who are fluent in the language are included in the hunt group. Again, identify those people and write down their direct phone numbers and extensions.
  • Determine if other offices or call centers should be included in your sequence. The correct people to handle your global call forwarding calls may be located in different offices or call centers around the globe. Identify the individuals and/or other branch offices that should be included in the sequence and write down their direct phone numbers — even if they are located in different countries. Global call forwarding numbers can be configured to ring to phone numbers around the world.
  • Determine a logical timing of the sequence. If you have a distributed team or if offices in different time zones will be involved, your sequence should make sense timing-wise so that the ring-to phones will actually be staffed when most calls are likely to come in.
  • Decide how you want to handle calls if everyone in the sequence is unavailable. In most cases, you’ll opt to have the call go to voicemail.
  • Determine the ideal sequence for your call forwarding calls and the desired length before the next number in the sequence begins ringing. The delay is cumulative, so you’ll want to make sure your most competent agents are first and second in the sequence and consider the third and fourth agents as backups in case your main agents are occupied. Try to allow enough time for the agent to answer, but not too much time before the next number rings if it goes unanswered. For example, if you have a 10-second delay between each number in the sequence, the caller will have waited a full 30 seconds before the fourth person answers or 40 seconds before landing in voicemail.
  • Configure sequential ringing. Once you have your sequence laid out, head to your global call forwarding online dashboard and select the sequential ringing option. Enter the destination numbers in your hunt group sequence and the desired length before the call will ring to the next number in the group.

Using sequential ringing to create a global, virtual hunt group is an effective way to deliver a superior experience to your international callers. It’s also easy to change as needed.

Read on

International Call Forwarding

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Origins of Telecommunications – Pioneers of Teleconferencing

Doug Englebart - Inventor of the First Two-Way Video Conference

Dialing into a conference call or clicking to connect to a web conference is second nature to many business professionals these days. These tools have become invaluable in our always connected, global business world. We owe a debt of gratitude to the visionaries who pioneered teleconferencing technologies.

Doug Englebart – Inventor of the First Two-Way Video Conference
Doug Englebart is credited with demonstrating the first two-way computer and video teleconference on December 9, 1968. He and a group of fellow researchers at Stanford Research Institute’s Augmentation Research Center presented a live public demonstration of an online system that they had been working on. They presented several innovations including screen sharing with two people located at different sites communicating over a network using an audio-video interface. The entire presentation was conducted online using closed circuit hookups. So, not only was the presentation about videoconferencing; it was a video conference.

You can view video clips of Englebart’s 1968 videoconference demonstration at: View video clips of Englebart’s 1968 videoconference demonstration
Englebart was a man before his time, having invented and patented the computer mouse well before personal computers became mainstream. By the time PCs became popular in the mid-1980s, his mouse technology had fallen into the public domain.

In all, Englebart had 20 patents to his name including patents related to email, networking, the Internet, and interface windows.

Walter Shaw – Inventor of Conference Calling
The man behind the teleconference has several inventions to his name: conference calling, call forwarding, touchtone dialing, security system dialers that call the police, and the answering machine to name a few. He was even commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954 to create a “red phone” to serve as an emergency link between the White House and Moscow.

Walter Shaw was considered a telecommunications genius, working for Bell Telephone for decades starting in 1935. Disputes with Bell over his patents and the rights to them eventually caused Shaw to leave the company. Now on his own, Shaw eventually began working for the mafia and invented what was known as a “black box.” The black box allowed callers to make untraceable, free long distance phone calls.

Shaw’s dark path ultimately ended with a conviction for illegal phone usage in 1976. It also forged a connection between his son and the mafia, with the younger son becoming a notorious jewel thief said to be responsible for the theft of $70 million in goods across more than 2,000 heists.

Web Conferencing Pioneers
Though the first online two-way video conference took place in the late 1960s and included features such as collaborative screen sharing, webinars as we know them began to appear in the early- to mid-1990s.

Among the earliest modern web conferencing pioneers is the Global Schoolhouse Project from Global SchoolNet. In 1992, GlobalSchoolhouse.org launched thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation to showcase online collaborative learning. The site allowed participating schools to join live two-way audio-video conferences over the Internet.

In the business world, software such as NetMeeting, PlaceWare, Starlight Networks StarLive!, and WebEx soon followed. Eric Korb, the founder of Webinars.com, is credited with coining (and originally trademarking) the term “webinar” in 1998. The trademark was later transferred to InterCall followed by West Corporation and its subsidiaries.
Teleconferencing has a long, rich history and continues to be a mainstay in business.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

“Doug Englebart, Inventor of Mouse and Teleconferencing, Dies.” 2017. Accessed October 13. Doug Englebart, Inventor of Mouse and Teleconferencing, Dies.

“Eric Korb | TrueCred.” 2017. Accessed October 13. Eric Korb | TrueCred.

“‘Genius on Hold’: An Inventor, His Jewel Thief Son and Steve Jobs – Latimes.” 2017. Accessed October 13. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/01/business/la-fi-tn-movie-about-telecom-pioneer-by-his-son-the-jewel-thief-20130228.

“Global SchoolNet – It’s Not About the Technology – YouTube.” 2017a.
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How to Divert International Phone Calls to the Correct Department with Global Call Forwarding Numbers

Divert Phone Calls InternationallyGlobal call forwarding numbers are an effective telecommunications tool. Not only do they help with centralizing incoming calls from around the world, you can create a virtual PBX system to ensure that your international callers are routed to the correct department or individual. Here’s what you need to know.

Choose Your Global Call Forwarding and Destination Numbers

If you don’t already have a global call forwarding number, you’ll need to order one, making sure the plan supports Interactive Voice Response (IVR) / PBX (ours does). As an example, if you need to receive calls from Italy in your US office, you’d need to order an Italian global call forwarding number and set it up to ring to your US office. This will divert calls from Italy to your main office.

However, what if your receptionist doesn’t speak Italian? Or what if you anticipate receiving a variety of call types such as questions about shipping, technical support, or billing? Using the IVR feature makes it possible to prompt callers to select the appropriate department.

Configure Interactive Voice Response

The Interactive Voice Response feature can be customized to best meet your needs. Common elements include the following:

  • A greeting – Depending on how you want to set up your system, the greeting could welcome callers and identify the business before connecting the call to a live person or voicemail. It could also be informational only or prompt the caller to make a choice.
  • Prompts / menu options – Like the name implies, Interactive Voice Response is interactive. Thus, you’ll need to set it up with prompts and menu options such as “press 1 for shipping, 2 for technical support.”

You’ll need to set up both for diverting your international phone calls to the appropriate department. Before you configure the IVR feature, it’s helpful to plan it out on paper. Below are a few considerations when planning how to set up the IVR:

  • Will there be a choice of languages? If so, this should be your first prompt so callers can choose the appropriate language and/or be routed to a fluent representative.
  • Which departments will callers likely need to reach? Write these down along with their direct phone numbers and extensions.
  • How will you handle international calls that come in after hours? With time zone differences, it’s likely that your international callers will call you during their business hours, but not necessarily yours. It may be necessary to use time of day routing and an alternate call center, answering service, or voicemail for your after hours calls.

We recommend keeping your system simple, without too many levels of prompts to avoid frustrating your callers. Write a brief script for each prompt and then set up the IVR accordingly. This is a simple process that involves filling out a few forms and following the prompts. Having your different prompts, scripts, and phone numbers in hand will make this task much easier.

After setting up the IVR, test it by calling the international call forwarding number and pressing the keys when prompted. If the system responded as expected, your business is ready to begin receiving and diverting these international calls.

Setting up global call forwarding to use the Interactive Voice Response feature allows you to direct callers to the right people in your office who can help them. It’s also an efficient use of resources and an excellent way to create a “virtual PBX.”


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How to Host a US Canada Cross Border Conference Call

Toronto CanadaDoing business across USA and Canada often requires US Canada cross border conference calls. With both access phone number and currency differences, hosting a US Canada conference call can become tricky.

Our service overcomes these obstacles, making access easy and affordable on both sides of the border. Here’s how to host US Canada cross border conference calls.

Providing Local Access Numbers for Participants in USA and Canada

You’ll need a US / Canada conference calling plan that offers access numbers that are local to cities on both sides of the border. This way, participants in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Québec, for example, can dial local phone numbers to access the conference call.

Meanwhile, the same is true for participants in Seattle, New York, Miami, or Kentucky. Similarly, you could opt for toll free numbers for your participants in Canada and the United States.

With local or toll free access numbers, attendees do not need to dial an access number that’s in a different city or country, keeping their individual costs to a minimum, if not zero. These numbers make joining your conference call simple and without friction.

Who Pays for the US Canada Conference Call — And in Which Currency?

With American International Telephonic’s pay-as-you-go plans, the account holder is billed for usage on a per minute, per participant basis in either US or Canadian dollars depending on the account holder’s location.

The per minute rates are quoted in USD and vary based on the access numbers the callers used: Canada local access, Canada toll free access, US local access, or US toll free numbers. With multiple participants using various access numbers, you’ll see have a mixture of rates — each of which is extremely competitive and a fraction of the cost of Bell Canada and other toll free conferencing providers.

Holding a Cross Border Conference Call

Once you have a US Canada plan in place, holding cross border conference calls is easy with our service. Conference calls can be held at a moment’s notice with no reservations required. Simply decide when you’d like to hold your conference call and provide attendees with the US Canada conference call details.

It’s really that simple, but if you want to dig deeper, advanced features allow for even greater functionality before, during and after the conference call. For example, you could:

  • Use the dial-out function to patch individual attendees into the call as they are needed.
  • Switch between a round robin-style conference where everyone speaks freely to lecture-only mode where only one line is open while that one person speaks.
  • Mute noisy lines.
  • Remove attendees.
  • Lock the conference call.
  • Record the conference call.
  • View Caller ID information detailing who is on the call (using the Live Conference Viewer).
  • View detailed attendance reports after the conference call.

US Canada conference calls bring participants together into a group audio call despite geographic differences. With our low-cost, pay-as-you-go service, you can hold cross border conference calls at a moment’s notice, paying only for the minutes used with no long-term contracts or hidden fees.

Read on

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