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 a Virtual Number to Ring Up to 10 Different Numbers Simultaneously

Simultaneous ringing call forwardingSetting up a virtual number so that it rings to multiple phones simultaneously nearly ensures that you’ll never miss another phone call again. It’s also a great way to improve your company’s customer service and impress customers who crave the more personal touch.

Since the call forwarding number can be configured to ring to different phone numbers at once, whomever is readily available to take that call simply answers it. Once answered, the other numbers will stop ringing. What if the call goes unanswered despite all ten numbers ringing? After a predetermined number of rings, you can send the call to voicemail.

Simultaneous ringing is suitable for both high and low volume call forwarding situations. For example, a small business owner may want to have the front office phone, warehouse phone, and a personal cell phone ring simultaneously.

Larger businesses can take advantage of this feature to spread calls across a team at a main office or call center. If you have a distributed team or perhaps a board of directors, it might make sense to route calls to all key members so that calls are promptly answered regardless of the dispersed nature of your organization.

It takes just a few minutes to obtain a virtual number and configure simultaneous ringing. Here’s a brief tutorial showing you how to do it.

  1. Sign up for one of our virtual phone numbers. When you first sign up for a virtual number, you’ll be prompted to designate a “ring to” number, which is the phone number where you’d like to receive your phone calls. Keep in mind that virtual phone numbers are not permanently associated with a physical phone. In fact, you can change their “ring to” numbers as often as you’d like. In this case, go ahead and pick your main ring to number. You’ll add the other numbers later.
  2. Pick a monthly plan and follow the prompts to complete sign up. Our plans are loaded with features and offered on a pay-as-you-go, no contract basis. We have a free trial if you’d like to try virtual numbers and simultaneous ringing before you buy.
  3. Once activated, log into your account and set up simultaneous ringing. This step is just as simple as when you initially entered a main “ring to” number when signing up for the account. Select the simultaneous ringing feature and enter up to a total of 10 phone numbers to ring simultaneously. Note that these phone numbers can be located just about anywhere! You’re not limited to phones located in your office. Thus, you could set up simultaneous ringing across multiple time zones or configure the feature to ring to all the different phones that you might be using at any given time such as your home office, main office, cell phone, or branch office.
  4. Change your simultaneous ringing settings as needed. As the dynamics of your calling needs change, so too can your simultaneous ringing configuration. For example, if you no longer need to receive phone calls at a branch office, you can easily remove that number from the list of ring to numbers. Likewise, if you have a new team member who needs to be included in the group, add that person’s number to the list of simultaneous ring to numbers. Changes are easy to make and can be done as often as you’d like. Simply sign into your account and update the settings to reflect your new requirements.

Simultaneous ringing is one of many advanced call forwarding features in our pay-as-you-go virtual number plans. It’s easy to set up and can make a huge difference in ensuring that a live person answers most of your phone calls right away.

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How to Get a Canada Virtual Number and Forward the Calls to China

China Xi'an The Bell Tower BuildingNeed a convenient way for callers in Canada to reach you or call your office in China?

One of the best ways for both parties is to get a Canada virtual number and then forward the calls to China. This is an easy and affordable process. Here’s what you need to know.

Start by signing up for one of our Canada virtual numbers. These are a special type of call forwarding number that are local to Canadians yet can ring to phones located in other countries.
1. Select Canada from the list of countries for your new phone number.
2. Choose your number type (toll free or geographic). If you choose a toll free number, you’ll be prompted to choose a toll free prefix such as 1800, 1833, 1844, 1855, 1866, 1877, or 1888). If you prefer a geographic number, select one of the Canadian provinces and then choose one of the cities.
3. Several available phone numbers will be presented to you. Pick one that appeals to you.
4. To enter your destination number, you’ll need to first select China from the list and then type in the phone number where all of your Canada calls should ring.
5. Select the virtual number calling plan that makes the best sense for your needs. A free trial is available. If you’d prefer to skip the trial, choose the allotment of minutes you’d like each month. These are pay-as-you-go plans, so there’s a lot of flexibility. For example, if you don’t expect to use more than an hour of minutes each month, starting with the basic plan would be a good choice. If you go over the allotment, the per minute rates are extremely reasonable. The following month, you might want to move to the next tier based on projected usage. Optionally and for a small fee, you can add the rollover feature where any unused minutes would rollover to the next month.
6. Complete the process and begin using your new Canada virtual phone number to receive calls in China.

Canada Call Forwarding Tips

Get the most out of your Canada virtual number by using the following features:

• Set up a local ringtone — Hearing another country’s ringtone is jarring to callers. Configuring a local ringtone can improve the caller experience.

• Use sequential or simultaneous ringing — Make sure your Canada calls get answered by setting up either sequential or simultaneous ringing. With sequential ringing, the first destination number rings for a predetermined number of rings before moving to the next destination number if the call goes unanswered. With simultaneous ringing, several destination phone numbers ring simultaneously.

• Set up a custom greeting — Put your Canadian callers at ease with a custom greeting.

• Create a virtual PBX — Our interactive voice response system can transform your Canada virtual number into a full-blown virtual PBX system where callers can choose from a structured menu. For example, you could set up language options, self-service choices, or individual extensions for each department.

These are but a few of the many advanced features that come standard with our Canada virtual numbers — all offered with competitive rates on a pay-as-you-go basis with no contract.

Get your Canada virtual phone number now and answer calls in China!

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How to Get a Virtual Number in India and Divert the Calls to the US

India to US Call DivertIndia is an attractive market for many companies in the United States. Not only does it have a huge population and emerging marketplace, English is one of the two official languages spoken in India.

Thus, communicating with partners, suppliers, trade officials, or customers in India is much easier for American business people. It’s even easier thanks to the availability of virtual numbers local to India. The telephone calls made using a virtual number can then be diverted to an office or call center in the United States.

Here’s how to take advantage of this convenient and affordable service.


Get a virtual number for India. First, you’ll need to obtain the virtual phone number itself. Toll free virtual numbers for India are available and work in much the same way that they do in the United States. That is, callers are not charged for their calls.

Use the drop-down list to select India from the list of available countries. You’ll be presented with a list of available toll free numbers that start with the prefix 080010.  Browse the list to see if any of the numbers are especially memorable or meaningful and choose the one you like best.

Enter the destination phone number. Since you will be diverting your India phone calls to the US, choose United States as the destination country followed by the phone number where you intend to receive the phone calls.

Note: you can change your destination phone number as needed, which will be discussed in further detail below.

Choose your plan. At this point, you’ll need to choose either a trial plan or an India call divert plan with a monthly allotment of minutes. There are a variety of plans to fit virtually any budget along with some helpful optional features.

Complete the form. Follow the prompts to enter your contact and payment information, view and agree to the terms of service, and complete the transaction. Upon activation, your contacts in India will be able to dial a local or toll free number that will then be diverted to your designated phone in the US.

Advanced India to US Call Forwarding Techniques

As you can see, getting a virtual number in India and diverting calls to USA is a simple process where you can begin receiving phone calls quickly and easily. Advanced features provide even more flexibility should you need it such as:

  • Voicemail — Time differences between USA and India mean that many calls will come in after hours. Voicemail is one way to handle this problem.
  • Time of day routing — Another option is to set up time of day routing so that calls from India are handled a specific way based on the current time. For example, you configure an alternate destination number (such as an answering service) to receive calls that come in after 6:00pm and before 7:00am local time.
  • Interactive Voice Response — Depending on the size and type of business you run, it might make sense to take advantage of the virtual number’s interactive voice response (IVR) system. This provides the caller with a PBX-like experience such as “Press 1 for sales, 2 for technical support.”
  • Local ring tones — Ring tones vary from one country to the next and can be disorienting to callers accustomed to hearing a certain sound when using the phone.  You’ll need to go into your account’s control panel to configure the India virtual number with the ringtone for India. It’s a simple step that can help put callers at ease.
  • Simultaneous ringing and/or sequential forwarding — These two features are helpful in making sure that calls are not missed. With simultaneous ringing, you can configure two or more destinations numbers to ring at the same time. Sequential forwarding involves routing incoming calls through a sequence of destination numbers. For example, if the first number doesn’t answer within a certain number of rings, the call will be forwarded to the next number in the sequence. If that number goes unanswered for a certain number of rings, the call will be forwarded once again.
  • Changing the destination number as needed — One of the most flexible features of a virtual number is the ability to change the destination phone number as needed. For example, you may want your virtual number in India  to ring to your main US phone number most of the time. However, severe weather or a staffing shortage may disrupt operations temporarily. Instead of relying on voicemail, you could change the destination number and have one of your other offices or a third-party call center handle those calls.

Businesses and individuals alike with interests in both India and USA can benefit from getting a virtual number in India and diverting calls to the US.

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How Early Entrepreneurs Got Things Done

Benjamin FranklinFrom technology to beauty, agriculture, the culinary arts, fitness, education, and beyond, the entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive innovation around the world. It’s booming in Africa for example, and starting to recover from an earlier decline in the United States. Today’s entrepreneurs share a lot in common with those of yesteryear. Like their predecessors, they are dreamers, makers, doers…

Let’s take a stroll back in time to see just how much we have in common with those who came before us and how they got things done long before the phrase was coined.

Business Networking in Colonial Times

You may know him as the inventor of bifocals, the face on the $100 bill, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the first Postmaster General of the United States, and the man who flew a kite to verify the nature of electricity and lightning, but did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a self-taught entrepreneur with exceptional business networking skills?

An article on MarketLeadership.net suggests that Ben Franklin was America’s first global entrepreneur. Below are a few of Franklin’s qualities the author presented that set Franklin apart as a business networking expert of his time:

  • He knew how to communicate on many different levels. In his earlier years, Franklin was a self-taught printer turned publisher who often wrote opinion pieces under assumed names. He was a master at making a case, a skill that came in handy as he traveled the world making a case for America. Franklin was also a master of the short and sweet. He could communicate beautifully with short stories and quotes.
  • He traveled frequently and worked to build alliances via social contacts, influence, and a deep understanding of human nature. A master of persuasion, Ben Franklin forged alliances that helped America win the Revolutionary War.
  • He knew how to get things done. Productive in good times and in bad, Franklin seized opportunities and took his time as needed. He was a successful diplomat who could influence others.

Ben Franklin’s communications and productivity tools were limited to those of his era: newspaper articles, letters, couriers, in-person interactions, and ink-stained to-do lists. If he were alive today, he’d have a plethora of options including: blogs, email, video and audio conferencing, SMS chats, Facebook, LinkedIn, project management software, and more. While technology certainly helps entrepreneurs share their ideas, find supporters, build partnerships and alliances, and get things done, there’s a lot to be learned from a man like Benjamin Franklin who used his communications skills and understanding of human nature to help shape the world.

From Telegraphs to Tweeting Taco Trucks

Here’s another entrepreneur from the past that got things done: Thomas Edison. As noted in an earlier blog post, Edison was a true telecom pioneer who contributed so much more than just the light bulb. His entrepreneurial spirit was readily apparent at an early age.

As a teenager, for example,  Edison worked as a newsboy and candy seller for the Grand Trunk Railway. It didn’t take long before he started his own side businesses: a periodical stand and a vegetable stand. He didn’t work these two businesses himself, rather he hired other boys to do so, plus a third one to sell candy on the train. He used the railway to source his supplies.

The Civil War increased demand for news, and Edison understood this. Rather than obtaining just 100 newspapers to sell, he’d obtain 1,000. He soon began publishing his own newspaper to sell to these same customers. He also utilized the telegraph to send alerts in advance that he was on his way with newspapers. As a result, he’d arrive at a train station and his customers would be waiting.

Today, entrepreneurs use a similar tactic to communicate with customers, though the technology has changed. For example, food trucks have taken to Twitter to announce their planned whereabouts to hungry customers. When the trucks roll in, customers are already eagerly awaiting their arrival.

The next time you schedule a global conference call or get a tweet from your favorite taco truck, pause for a moment and think about the entrepreneurs who came before. How might they have solved the challenge you’re currently working on?

read on




“2017 State of Entrepreneurship Address | Kauffman.org.” 2017. Accessed September 7. http://www.kauffman.org/what-we-do/resources/state-of-entrepreneurship-addresses/2017-state-of-entrepreneurship-address

“How Did Ben Franklin Become Our First Global Entrepreneur?” 2017. Accessed September 7. http://www.marketleadership.net/ben-franklin-entrepreneur/#sthash.38qVJ36W.dpbs

“Quick Biography of Benjamin Franklin.” 2017. Accessed September 7. http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/info/

“Thomas A. Edison Papers.” 2017. Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences. Accessed September 7. http://edison.rutgers.edu/educationinventor.htm

“Why African Entrepreneurship Is Booming.” 2017. Accessed September 7. https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-african-entrepreneurship-is-booming

“Zero Barriers | Kauffman Entrepreneurs.” 2017. Accessed September 7. https://www.entrepreneurship.org/zero-barriers

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Telecom Pioneer Profile Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison

Well known for having invented the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, aka the “wizard of Menlo Park,” was also a telecommunications pioneer. Of the more than 1,000 US patents issued to Edison, 150 were related to the telegraph and another 34 for the telephone. He was also issued patents for 195 phonograph and 141 storage battery inventions. The next time you marvel at the technology neatly bundled into your smartphone, pause and remember the contributions of men like Thomas Edison.

Edison’s Early Years and Failures

At the tender age of 12, Edison left home to work on the railroad. At one point, he saved the life of a toddler, preventing him from being struck by a runaway train. The boy’s grateful father happened to be a station agent who then trained the teenaged Edison to become a telegraph operator. His tenure at Western Union didn’t last long due to his preoccupation with experimenting. One experiment involving a lead acid battery spill cost him his job.

His first patented invention, a high speed vote recorder, was a flop. Though much more efficient than traditional roll call voting, a congressional committee rejected it for being too efficient. During the tedious and time-consuming process of recording votes by roll call, legislators had the opportunity to plead their cases with other members, trying to convince them to change their votes.

Learning from Mistakes

After his first voting machine failed because he didn’t understand the actual needs of legislators (the need to lobby their colleagues during voting), Edison realized he needed to understand customers. He once said, “Anything that won’t sell, I don’t want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.”

This approach worked. One of his early “needs first” inventions was the Edison Electric Pen and Press, which came about after watching insurance clerks tediously duplicating insurance policy documents by hand. His invention could make up to 5,000 copies of one document. This was followed by Edison’s mimeograph machine, a device that automated document duplication.

Improving Telegraphy

Edison improved upon the telegraph via numerous inventions, one of which   allowed for multiple telegraphy. His quadraplex system transmitted four messages simultaneously over a single wire (two messages each way).

His printing telegraph, US Patent # 91527, was a simple, inexpensive device  which eliminated the need for an attendant on the receiving end.

Another telegraphic improvement invented by Thomas Edison was a special chemical paper which would be less susceptible to drying, cracking, deterioration, and other damage once it dried.

The Wizarding World of an Invention Factory

In 1876, Edison opened the first industrial research lab, or “invention factory” as he shrewdly called it, where he and his staff worked on numerous inventions. One of his projects was a machine designed to transcribe telegraphic messages by indenting a paper tape which could then be transmitted repeatedly over a telegraph. Ever the experimenter, Edison thought perhaps a telephone message could be recorded in a similar fashion with sound vibrations making indentations in the rapidly moving paper. He was right, and the phonograph was born.

Edison’s phonograph caught the world by surprise, earning him the nickname, “the wizard of Menlo park.” A savvy marketer who was cognizant of his own personal brand, Edison would likely fit in just fine on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Edison foresaw several applications for his device including:

● Stenographer-free dictation

● Audio books for the blind

● Music reproduction

● Family “legacy” voice recordings

● Music boxes

● Talking clocks that announced the time or offered reminders

● Education – note taking and lessons

● Telephone recording

More than a century later, these applications are commonly just a tap or voice command away on a smartphone.
World War I Experiments with the Navy

In Edison’s later years, he was called into service as the chairman of the Naval Consulting Board during World War I. He was recruited after the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, read Thomas Edison’s comments in a New York Times article. Edison had said, “The Government should maintain a great research laboratory…. In this could be developed…all the technique of military and naval progression without any vast expense.”

Edison conducted a variety of experiments for the Navy, working on dozens of projects such as using sound to locate gun positions, detecting submarines, and anti-roll platforms for ships.

Despite his innovative work, none of his ideas were implemented. However, his work did lead to the creation of the Naval Research Laboratory, which ushered in a permanent commitment to government research and development. In turn, this has led to many of the inventions widely used today including the Internet and GPS.

With more than 1,000 patents issued in the United States, and many more issued worldwide, Thomas Edison was an inventor for the ages. His work helped to shape the telecommunications industry (and several other industries for that matter) and many of his visions are commonplace technologies used every day.

Edison First Patent Vote Recorder

Edison Vote Recorder








Printing Telegraph Patent Drawing

Edison Telegraph

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How to Forward Your Cell Phone Callers to Another Country While on Assignment or Vacation

Cell Phone Call ForwardingAs a busy international traveler, you’re not always easy to reach by phone. One day you could be in London, the next Paris. A few days later, you could be in Milan or Hong Kong.

While recording an outing announcement on your cell phone with your current alternate phone number helps some callers find you, there’s a much better way to receive your calls: global call forwarding.

Since you want your cell phone callers to be able to reach you while abroad, there are a few steps to take to avoid excessive roaming charges and other potential issues.

Here’s how to quickly, easily, and affordably forward your cell phone callers to another country while you’re on assignment or on vacation.

Obtaining a Global Call Forwarding Number

First, you’ll need to obtain a global call forwarding number local to your home country. This is a special type of phone number that can be configured to ring to virtually any phone in the world, yet it acts like a local number to your callers.

For example, if you live in the United States, you’ll want a US phone number that can be remote call forwarded to the countries you’ll be visiting. Depending on your preferences, this can be either local or toll free. You will later set up your cell phone so that any incoming calls are then forwarded to your global call forwarding number, which in turn, will be forwarded to the phone you’ve designated as your “ring to” number in the other country.

Configuring the “Ring to” Phone Number

Many business travelers buy cheap disposable cell phones when they arrive at their destinations and then configure them as the destination phone for their international call forwarding phone number. Assuming you’ll be traveling from the United States to London and using a disposable cell phone purchased in London, you’ll then set up your global call forwarding number so that it rings to your new London cell phone number. This is easy to do on the fly once you have your new phone number.

Now, whenever someone dials the US call forwarding number, those calls will ring to your disposable cell phone in London. This is extremely handy — IF your callers have your new global call forwarding number. If you’d rather keep it as simple as possible for your cell phone callers (as well as keep your travel plans to yourself), you’ll need to configure your cell phone number so that it automatically forwards incoming calls to the call forwarding number, which then rings to your designated phone in the other country.

Setting Up Your Cell Phone to Forward Incoming Calls to Your New Call Forwarding Number

Most modern cell phones include basic call forwarding features. On an iPhone, for example, you’d go to Settings > Phone > Call Forwarding and then enter the destination phone number, which would be the global call forwarding phone number you obtained earlier.

In theory, you could set up call forwarding directly from your cell phone to a destination phone in the country you’re visiting. However, this is cost-prohibitive. Using a global call forwarding number, on the other hand, is very affordable.

Now that you have your cell phone set up to ring to your global call forwarding phone number which is set up to ring to a phone at your travel destination, you contacts can reach you the way they always do: by dialing your cell phone number. There’s no need to give them your itinerary or a list of alternate phone numbers. As you continue your travels, you can change your ring to number accordingly.

Cool Global Call Forwarding Features You Need When Traveling Abroad

As if the ability to receive all of your phone calls while traveling wasn’t enough, you could also take advantage of some neat features like a customized greeting, fax forwarding, automated IVR, or failover forwarding.

  • Customized Greeting — This is helpful if you want to give your callers a heads up that you’re in a different time zone, or for general purposes.
  • Fax Forwarding — Need to receive faxes while traveling? Now you can. With this feature, just have your contacts fax their documents to your cell phone number and they will automatically be sent to you via email.Automated IVR — If you have an assistant that can help while you’re traveling or would like to give callers various options, take advantage of the automated interactive voice response system that comes with your global call forwarding number. This could be as simple as instructing callers to “press one for urgent matters requiring immediate assistance; press two to leave me a message; press three to send a fax…”
  • Failover Forwarding — Time zone differences are a valid concern, which is why you may want to use the failover forwarding feature to configure secondary ring-to numbers should you miss a call. With this feature, the call would ring to the next phone number if it isn’t answered in the prescribed number of rings.

Setting your cell phone up so that your callers can reach you internationally is a convenient choice. It allows your contacts back at home to reach you simply by dialing the same cell phone number they always call. For them, there’s no difference between calling you locally and calling you while you’re in another country.

There’s no need for them to incur international long distance charges or deal with unfamiliar phone numbers. It’s convenient for you, too, as you can rest assured that your most important phone calls will reach you no matter where in the world you may be.

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Origins of Technology: Alexander Graham Bell, a Controversial Inventor

Most of us know Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, an invention that changed communications and our society as a whole. While we may imagine Bell tinkering in a workshop, a cloud of controversy surrounds him. Did he really invent the telephone or did he merely get all the credit for it? And why did the deaf community take issue with his stance on deaf education?

Who Invented the So-Called “Talking Telegraph”?

Alexander Graham Bell was awarded patent number 174,465 for his invention. But was it the first?

Bell Telegraphy Diagram

Bell Telegraphy

Not really. Though Bell is largely credited with inventing the telephone, historians point to two other notable inventors whose inventions came first. In the United States, Elisha Gray, an inventor from Chicago who had already been awarded a patent for an “Electric Telegraph for Transmitting Musical Tones” immediately filed a “caveat” on the day that Bell filed for his patent. This caveat announced Gray’s intentions to file a claim for his own patent for the same invention.

Bell’s telephone was actually based on technologies developed by Gray previously. A legal battle ensued, with Bell ultimately being awarded the patent.

A decade later, The Washington Post published a story on May 22, 1886, about a former Washington patent examiner, Zenas F. Wilber, who swore that one of Bell’s attorneys had bribed him $100 to award the telephone patent to Bell instead of his rival, Gray. Bell, of course, denied bribing the patent examiner.

The Post called it “a most amazing story,” — and there’s even more to the story, including allegations that Bell had illegally been given access to Gray’s original patent drawings.

To further cloud the issue, an Italian inventor, Antonio Meucci, created and filed a caveat for a “Sound Telegraph” invention five years before Bell and Gray. Meucci’s working models, which were stored at a Western Union affiliate laboratory, were lost. Bell also conducted experiments at the same lab.

In 2002, the United States House of Representatives honored Meucci’s achievements, acknowledging his work in the invention of the telephone. The House Resolution 269 notes that had Meucci renewed his caveat, which he was financially unable to do at the time, Bell would never have been awarded the patent. The resolution concludes, “Now, therefore, be it resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the lifeand achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.”

Antonio Meucci acknowledgement

While other inventors of his era were working on similar projects, Bell’s case was litigated and he was ultimately awarded the patent.

Electric Telegraph for Transmitting Musical Tones diagram

Bell and the Deaf Community

In addition to his work on the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell was passionate about the deaf community. His own mother was deaf, and his father had invented a universal alphabet for the deaf called “visible speech.” Bell taught speech to deaf students as well as founded a school to train other teachers of deaf students. All admirable work; however, as with the invention of the telephone, there’s more to the story.

Bell was a eugenicist. According to the dictionary, eugenics is “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.“ According to an article on PBS.org, Bell feared the creation of a deaf race, something that he felt was happening as deaf people formed clubs, socialized, and intermarried. His solution wasn’t to ban marriage between deaf people, but rather to remove the causes that promoted intermarriage such as sign language, residential schools, and deaf teachers.

Bell promoted “oralism” and sought to ban sign language, a stance largely criticized by the National Association of the Deaf.

Bell won one battle. He is widely credited as the inventor of the telephone. But he lost the other. Today in the United States, American Sign Language is estimated to be used by between 500,000 and two million people. Meanwhile, modern telecommunications based on early inventions, such as the telephone, now help the deaf community communicate with hearing and deaf people like never before.

Though Bell was a controversial inventor, the telephone and deaf education have both changed our world for good.




“Antonio Meucci – Biography, Facts and Pictures.” 2017. Accessed August 24. https://www.famousscientists.org/antonio-meucci

“ASL: Ranking and Number of Users – Sign Language – LibGuides at Gallaudet University Library.” 2017. Accessed August 24. http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/content.php?pid=114804&sid=991835

“Bell Did Not Invent Telephone, US Rules | World News | The Guardian.” 2017. Accessed August 24. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jun/17/humanities.internationaleducationnews

“Elisha Gray | American Inventor | Britannica.com.” 2017a. Accessed August 24. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Elisha-Gray

“History of American Sign Language – Start ASL.” 2017. Accessed August 24. https://www.startasl.com/history-of-american-sign-language_html

“Patent Images.” 2017a. Accessed August 24. http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?docid=00174465&PageNum=2&IDKey=26DF1537CC51&HomeUrl=http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1%2526Sect2=HITOFF%2526d=PALL%2526p=1%2526u=%25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsrchnum.htm%2526r=1%2526f=G%2526l=50%2526s1=0174465.PN.%2526OS=PN/0174465%2526RS=PN/0174465.

“Patent Images.” 2017b. Accessed August 24. http://pdfpiw.uspto.gov/.piw?docid=00166095&PageNum=1&IDKey=3A79D46182D5&HomeUrl=http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1%2526Sect2=HITOFF%2526d=PALL%2526p=1%2526u=%25252Fnetahtml%25252FPTO%25252Fsrchnum.htm%2526r=1%2526f=G%2526l=50%2526s1=0166095.PN.%2526OS=PN/0166095%2526RS=PN/0166095

“Text – H.Res.269 – 107th Congress (2001-2002): Expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives to Honor the Life and Achievements of 19th Century Italian-American Inventor Antonio Meucci, and His Work in the Invention of the Telephone. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.” 2017. Accessed August 24. https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-resolution/269/text

“The Bell Telephone: Patent Nonsense?” 2017. Accessed August 24. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/19/AR2008021902596.html

“Through Deaf Eyes . Deaf Life . Signing, Alexander Graham Bell and the NAD | PBS.” 2017. Accessed August 24. https://www.pbs.org/weta/throughdeafeyes/deaflife/bell_nad.html

“Who Invented the Telephone? | Teachinghistory.org.” 2017. Accessed August 24. http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/22481

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From Crystals and Transistors to Code and Minecraft Blocks

Robot Artificial IntelligenceGenerations ago, children tinkered with crystal receivers, transistors, and various parts to make their own radio sets. With just a few components and instructions found in magazines of the era, future inventors were introduced to technology.

By modern standards, crystal radio sets are quaint, but without them, we might not have computers, iPhones, and other modern technologies. Steve Jobs, for example, was an inquisitive child who loved to figure out how things worked or how they were assembled.
While you’ll still find today’s children dissembling or building their own electronic devices and robotics, often from scratch or via neatly bundled kits, you’ll also find that many of the world’s future inventors acquiring their new skills elsewhere. Though it might look like your kids are just watching YouTube or playing a game, it’s also possible that their experiments and world building are setting the stage for innovations we can only dream of.
Below are a few ways that tomorrow’s inventors are playing, learning, and preparing for the future…

YouTube – While there’s no shortage of time-wasting videos on YouTube, for the inquisitive child, there’s a wealth of information just a tap or click away. If Grampa’s not around to explain what a combustible engine is and how it works, a quick search and a few minutes of viewing can fill in the gaps.

Learning to code – Have you ever paid attention to what your child is doing when playing a game such as Minecraft? You may hear talk of “modding” or feel overwhelmed by the blocky worlds and characters, but upon closer inspection, you’ll see that coding is part of game play. In addition, several computer coding languages, such as Scratch and Alice, have been developed specifically for kids, helping to introduce them to the world of code.

Why It Matters

Whether exploring an item’s mechanics by taking it apart or putting it together, watching videos about something of interest, or learning how to code, playing with technology teaches future inventors several important skills just as crystal radio sets taught a previous generation.

These skills include:
Creativity – Inventors, by their nature, tend to be curious and creative. Building a robot, designing an app, or repurposing parts are all forms of expression.

Problem solving – Inventions are typically made to solve a problem. Coding, for example, involves breaking large, complex problems down into smaller and more manageable parts, which teaches logic and computational thinking.

Communication and collaboration — Granted, watching videos, playing video games, and coding at a computer may seem passive and isolated, but it could be more collaborative than you realize. For example, your child may be playing Minecraft or Roblox with a group of friends, using text-based chats or video conferencing to create an interactive, collaborative experience. These same tools, or future iterations of them, will likely be used to communicate with colleagues, coworkers, and partners in adulthood.

Persistence — Learning new skills or trying to build something is challenging and frustrating at times, but it’s also rewarding. Just as your child’s grandparents experienced joy after tuning and listening to a real radio signal on a homemade crystal radio, the same is true of an accomplishment such as creating an animation, app, or robot that follows instructions.

The technologies kid tinker with have changed, but the end result is the same: cultivating curiosity and inspiring the innovations of the future.


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A Brief History of Video Conferencing

Modern Times trailer (1936).webm – Wikimedia

Telecommunications tools today, especially video conferencing, make the world a smaller place. With just a few clicks or taps, you can initiate or join a global video conference, seeing and hearing the other participants in full motion video. The technology powering video conferencing is truly amazing. While Skype was one of the first to popularize video conferencing in 2003, the idea of communicating over long distances both audibly and visually dates back more than one hundred years! Let’s take a stroll through time to learn more about how one of the most innovative tools in use today evolved.

Video Conferencing in the 1800s and 1900s

Yes, we’re going all the way to the late 1800s, the 1870s to be exact. During this time, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, the concept of transmitting an image alongside audio over a wire was born. In the years following, the concept was largely relegated to the realm of science fiction. EM Forster’s The Machine Stops novel depicts a futurist post-apocalyptic world where people rarely travel; they communicate via video screens and have all of their needs served by an all-encompassing “machine.”

It took about a half a century before the concept materialized in 1927 when Bell Labs connected several Washington, D.C. officials with the president of AT&T in New York City in an audio/video phone call. This call included a two-way audio connection and a one-way video connection.

Yet, the technology didn’t go far, other than in the movies. Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film Modern Times, for example, featured a video phone where a factory executive relayed instructions to factory workers.

In 1964, the “Picturephone” debuted at the World’s Fair in New York City. As innovative as the Picturephone was at the time, it failed to take off. Some believe that people of that era disliked face-to-face communication over the phone while others think the one-to-one nature doomed it to fail. After all, where video conferencing today really shines is in group settings.  Several organizations were involved in spurring this technology forward including Post Office Telecom (British Telecom) in Europe and, later, Stanford University with its Virtual Auditorium.

In 1982, Compression Labs launched its CLI TI video conference system. Big and bulky, CLI TI also came with a huge price tag of $250,000 — plus, each call cost $1,000 per hour.

During this era, the hardware alone took up an entire room. This coupled with the high costs involved meant only a few larger businesses could adopt the technology.

By the mid-1990s, personal computers and Internet access became more common, opening the doors to desktop video conferencing. Intel was one of the pioneers with its ProShare for Windows PC software. Users at the time needed a PC with a sound card, microphone, and webcam — and high speed Internet.

Video Conferencing — or “Distributed Collaboration” — in the 2000s

In 2000, Lester F. Ludwig, J. Chris Lauwers, Keith A. Lantz, Gerald J. Burnett, and Emmett R. Burns filed for a patent, which was later granted to Collaborative Properties, Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Avistar Communication Corporation),  for a “computer-based system designed to enhance collaboration between and among individuals who are separated by distance and/or time.”  They referred to this as “distributed collaboration.”







The inventors noted the shortcomings of other systems of the time such as:

  • A lack of high quality video
  • Limited data-sharing capabilities
  • (For non-visual communications technologies) The inability to convey facial and non-verbal cues

The inventors envisioned users starting with a “collaborative multimedia workstation” (CMW) with high quality video and audio capabilities installed within a system architecture with separate real-time and asynchronous networks.

Data Sharing Component

In addition, the inventors included a data-sharing component where visual information such as screenshots (or “snapshots of screens” as the inventors called them) and the sharing of both he control and display of applications (application sharing). Each participant had the ability to annotate or point at the shared visual data. Plus, the entire teleconference, including audio and video as well as shared data, could be recorded from each collaborative multimedia workstation.

This invention certainly had promise, and many of the concepts noted in the original patent are commonly included in modern video conferencing solutions.

However, high speed access to the internet became more common,  everyday computers came equipped with microphones and webcams off the shelf, and simple web-based video chatting solutions such as Skype emerged.

In fact, Skype arrived in 2003. It was no longer necessary to have serious network architecture in order to conduct free audio calls, complete with text messaging and the ability to share files with other people. All you needed was a free download and Internet access. Video calling soon followed in 2006.

Though Skype helped bring the concept of desktop video calls to the mainstream, it wasn’t alone. Apple’s FaceTime launched in 2010. Other services soon followed.

Today, various companies over affordable video conferencing options and plans both as unified communications systems for the enterprise and as cloud-based services. Either way, the days of $1000 per hour calls are over.

Read on



“8 Fun Facts From the History of Video Conferencing.” 2017. Accessed August 16. http://www.methodshop.com/2014/11/video-conferencing-facts.shtml

“A Brief History of Skype | TIME.com.” 2017. Accessed August 16. http://techland.time.com/2011/05/10/a-brief-history-of-skype/

“About Collaboration Properties, Inc. and Avistar Communications Corporation for Avistar_Communications (AVSR).” 2017. Accessed August 16. http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Avistar_Communications_(AVSR)/Collaboration_Properties_Inc_Avistar_Communications_Corporation

“FaceTime Creator Details Its History, Including Code Name – CNET.” 2017. Accessed August 16. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-engineer-details-facetimes-history-including-original-codename/

“Modern Times (Film) – Wikipedia.” 2017. Accessed August 16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Times_(film)

“The History of Skype.” 2017. Skype. Accessed August 16.

“The History of Video Conferencing.” 2017. Accessed August 16. http://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/tech/history-video-conferencing/

“The Machine Stops: Did EM Forster Predict the Internet Age? – BBC News.” 2017. Accessed August 16.  http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-36289890

“The Video Auditorium.” 2017. Accessed August 16. https://graphics.stanford.edu/~miltchen/VideoAuditorium/

“US7185054B1 – Google Patents.” 2017. Accessed August 16. https://patents.google.com/patent/US7185054B1/en?q=video+conference

“Video Phone – TV Tropes.” 2017. Accessed August 16. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VideoPhone

“Videoconferencing | Communications | Britannica.com.” 2017. Accessed August 16. https://www.britannica.com/technology/videoconferencing

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Innovations in Conference Calls

Conference calling has been in existence since 1915 when the first ceremonial transcontinental phone call took place between New York and San Francisco during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Not only was this the first cross-country phone call, after the initial connection was made between Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson, additional dignitaries were connected to the phone call.

Calls back then were cost prohibited, with a three-minute cross-country phone call costing the equivalent of nearly $500 dollars today. By the middle of the last century, Bell Labs became the first to begin experiment with group telephone calls on a more commercial basis. AT&T soon followed, exhibiting its Picturephone  in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair. These early technologies remained expensive and weren’t widely used.

By the 1970s, conference calling via physically bridged copper wires became more common. However, these calls could only handle about three participants before call quality suffered. In the 1980s, phone manufacturers started including basic conference calling features to their phones, again, with just a handful of participants. These systems did deliver better sound quality thanks to line balancing and amplification.

Digital telecommunications revolutionized teleconferencing, adding more sophisticated conference bridges that allowed for more than a dozen participants. Today’s modern conference bridges allow for huge participant lists.

As the technology that brings people together has evolved, so too have some of the features that make conference calls so helpful. For example, you’ve likely encountered live operators, chat boxes, and MP3 recordings when participating in a modern call. If you were to travel back in time to the late 1990s, the vision involved using an “answering machine” for data conferences.

In this example, the answering machine addressed an issue where a user who wanted to establish a data conference with another user was unable to connect due to various reasons such as the other user being away from the workstation. Rather than hanging and then using a different means of contacting the other person such as email or voicemail, this answering machine allowed the caller to leave a message directly.

Answering machine patent

This particular invention used a new architecture and method to manage teleconferences by including a recording system where participants could set a mark to begin recording and then later play the audio back from that mark forward. It blend telephone connections with Internet or intranet networks. Participants could access their recordings using a standard touch-tone telephone or a desktop computer with the appropriate software.

This early conference call recording system allowed participants to either record the entire call or just portions of it.  The patent for this invention was issued to Timothy Culver and Randall Oakes of MCI Communications in 1998. The illustration below illustrates how the starting and stopping of the recording might be used in practice.

This particular invention used a new architecture and method to manage teleconferences by including a recording system

In 2000, Sony applied for a patent for its network conferencing system, attendance authentication method and presentation method.

Here we see a conferencing system that is beginning to look like a modern system complete with a chat box and the ability to transfer files. In fact, this invention included attendant, presenter, and chairman terminals.

This invention authenticated each participant, verifying identity.  In short, each user’s identifying personal data would be presented to the chairman’s terminal, allowing for authentication.

In 2000, Sony applied for a patent for its network conferencing system, attendance authentication method and presentation method.



Obviously, technology has changed dramatically since the 1990s and early 2000s. However, when participating in a modern conference call, you’ll likely see remnants of these earlier ideas plus a host of other innovations designed to ensure secure, high quality conference calls whether via telephone or over the Internet.



Learn more



“A Brief History of Conference Calling | WHYPAY?” 2017. Accessed August 14. https://whypay.net/a-brief-history-of-conference-calling/.

“Result – Google Patents.” 2017. Accessed August 14. https://patents.google.com/patent/US5778053A/en?q=answering+machine.

“Steadfast Telecommunications – A Brief History of the Conference Bridge.” 2017. Accessed August 14. https://steadfasttelecom.com/brief-history-conference-bridge/.

“This 1915 Conference Call Made History | Computerworld.” 2017. Accessed August 14. http://www.computerworld.com/article/2874390/this-1915-conference-call-made-history.html.

“US6298129B1 – Google Patents.” 2017. Accessed August 14. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6298129B1/en?q=teleconference&q=audio&q=recording.

“US20040117194A9 – Google Patents.” 2017. Accessed August 14. https://patents.google.com/patent/US20040117194A9/en?q=teleconference&q=chat


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Text Messaging Through the Years

What do early cave dwellers and millennials have in common? One could say emojis. Early man used crude rock drawings to communicate with others while today’s tech users often incorporate text, acronyms, GIFs, and emojis to quickly convey their thoughts. Telecommunication has evolved since the earliest cave engravings were carved more than 70,000 years ago. Here’s a quick look at how the written word has evolved since the dawn of mankind.

Rock Art: Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Rock Art: Pictographs and Petroglyphs

Waikoloa Petroglyphs, Puako, Hawaii

Among the earliest known forms of written communication are the Blombos cave engravings in Africa, which are estimated to have originated in 70,000 BCE. Ancient civilizations around the world left their messages — and their marks — in rocks. Carvings or scratched images in rocks are known as petroglyphs while paintings on stone with natural pigments are known as pictographs.


As far as writing more complicated texts goes, the British Museum reports that Sumerians developed a means of keeping records of grain, cattle and sheep around 3,000 BC: cuneiforms. Using tablets made from damp clay and a pointed tool, scribes used symbols to represent animals and various marks which became standardized as well as signs that could be combined to represent sounds to record spoken language.

Meanwhile, other ancient civilizations such as those in Egypt and China were developing their own means of writing.


Egyptian Hieroglyphics

Egyptian hieroglyphics used a series of pictures of real animals and objects and symbols to represent sound. Hieroglyphics were used for both record keeping and on monuments honoring deities and royalty.

The ancient Egyptians used papyrus to write, right around the same time they began carving their hieroglyphics into stone.


relief, Lisht, MK, Senwosret I, temple, Senwosret I, Lisht

relief, Lisht, MK, Senwosret I, temple, Senwosret I, Lisht

Chinese Scripts

Believed to originate from about 1200 BC, patterns of cracks broken into turtle shells and polished oxen shoulder blades were originally used to predict the future. These early scripts evolved over the centuries, and are still in use today.

Written Correspondence

Alphabets began to appear around 1400 BCE with the Greek alphabet arriving around 800 BCE and the Latin alphabet in 700 BCE. The famous Rosetta Stone is believed to date back to 196 BCE, containing Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic script, and ancient Greek writings.

Over the years, scribes painstakingly recorded texts using ink and paper, a laborious task. In 1400, the printing press arrived, making mass communications possible.

Whether writing by hand or by press, correspondents had several ways to get their messages to their intended recipients. Below are just a few examples:

  • Carrier pigeons — Carrier pigeons were used around the world to carry messages. For example, the ancient Romans used them to notify owners about chariot race results while Genghis Khan used a pigeon relay system across Asia and much of Eastern Europe.
  • Human envoys — You’ve heard the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Messengers were used to carry important messages across long and short distances alike. They were often dispatched on foot or horseback.
  • Postal services — Postal services, such as Henry VIII’s national postal network, have a long, rich history. Henry VIII’s was established more than 500 years ago. As with human envoys, various transportation methods have been used to deliver correspondence including horseback, stagecoach, railroads, ships, and airplanes.


In the 1830s and 1840s, Morse code and the telegraph changed how the world communicated via text. A series of audible electrical signals were transmitted across wires, and later wirelessly, from one operator to the next. A combination of ‘dots’ and ‘dashes’ were used to represent each letter of the alphabet. The sending operator sent the signals for each letter of the message while the receiving operator transcribed them onto paper, which could then be dispatched via messenger.

Instant messaging had arrived, changing telecommunications forever.

Facsimile (Fax) Machines

Did you know that fax machines pre-date Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone? The first technology to send a picture over a wire was invented by Alexander Bain in the 1840s. A patent was issued to him on May 27, 1943 for “improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces, and in electric printing, and signal telegraphs.”

This invention was improved upon by Frederick Bakewell who invented an “image telegraph.”

Bain’s facsimile machines

Bain improved facsimile 1850.


According to Net History, email wasn’t invented, it evolved. Some of the early systems first appeared in 1965 — more than 50 years ago. By the late 1980s, commercial email systems such as Eudora began to appear. By the mid-1990s, AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe had arrived, soon to be followed by Hotmail in 1996. The World Wide Web was just becoming popular among everyday users.

In 1998, President Bill Clinton sent the first presidential email to John Glenn, who was aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery at the time.

SMS Text Messaging

Short Messaging Service started as an idea in 1984 and became a reality when the developer of SMS sent the first text on December 2, 1992. Nokia was the first mobile phone maker to build a mobile phone capable of sending text messages but with some limitations. For example, in order to send a text to someone, that person had to be on the same mobile network as you.

Though in-network texting was typically offered for free, once cross-network texting arrived, costs became a serious concern — especially among parents who wound up with huge phone bills thanks to their teens’ texting habits. Today, texting is usually unlimited or offered with high monthly limits.

In 2010, over 200,000 text messages were sent every minute.

Just as ancient people used simple drawings to communicate, modern texters use cartoon-like drawings called emojis along with abbreviations and text.

Chat Rooms and Web Chat

As the World Wide Web and various services like AOL and Yahoo! became popular, chat rooms arrived, bringing real-time, text-based group communications to the computer screen. These chat rooms have since fallen out of favor, though web chatting is still around — and thriving — in various forms.

For example, online gaming communities often feature real-time chat boxes where players can chat as they play.

Likewise, chat boxes are extremely helpful during phone and video conferences, adding another channel where participants can communicate with one another. The moderator of a web conference will often use the chat box feature to receive questions from participants or to provide links to other resources.

A lot has changed since Neanderthals first scratched designs into stone. The way we communicate today is easy and instantaneous, bringing the world closer together.

Read on



“A Complete History of the Rise and Fall — and Reincarnation! — of the Beloved ’90s Chatroom – The Washington Post.” 2017. Accessed August 11. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/10/30/a-complete-history-of-the-rise-and-fall-and-reincarnation-of-the-beloved-90s-chatroom/?utmterm=.31593ffa95ab.

“British Museum – Historic Writing.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/themes/writing/historicwriting.aspx.

“Collection | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” 2017a. Accessed August 11. http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!/search?q=cuneiform&perPage=20&sortBy=Relevance&sortOrder=asc&offset=0&pageSize=0.

———. “Collection | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” 2017b. Accessed August 11. http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search#!/search?q=cuneiform&perPage=20&sortBy=Relevance&sortOrder=asc&offset=0&pageSize=0.

“For Texting Teens, an OMG Moment When the Phone Bill Arrives.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/19/AR2007051901284.html.

“HISTORY OF WRITING MATERIALS.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=aa92.

“Oldest North American Rock Art up to 14,800 Years Old.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130815-lake-winnemucca-petroglyphs-ancient-rock-art-nevada/.

“Our History | The Postal Museum |.” 2017. Accessed August 11. https://www.postalmuseum.org/connect/about/our-history/.

“President Clinton Sends the First Ever Presidential Email (November 6, 1998) : HistoryofInformation.com.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.historyofinformation.com/expanded.php?id=4561.

“Relief of Hieroglyphic Inscription | Middle Kingdom | The Met.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/555650?sortBy=Relevance&ft=hieroglyphics&offset=0&rpp=100&pos=13.

“Text Messaging at 20: How SMS Changed the World – Telegraph.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/9718336/Text-messaging-at-20-how-SMS-changed-the-world.html.

“The Evolution of the Text Message.” 2017. Accessed August 11. https://www.rebtel.com/en/international-calling-guide/texting-sms/the-evolution-of-the-text-message/.

“The Hallowed History of the Carrier Pigeon – The New York Times.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/30/style/the-hallowed-history-of-the-carrier-pigeon.html.

“The History of Fax (from 1843 to Present Day) • Fax Authority.” 2017. Accessed August 11. https://faxauthority.com/fax-history/.

“The History of the Written Word Timeline | Timetoast Timelines.” 2017. Accessed August 11. https://www.timetoast.com/timelines/the-history-of-the-written-word.

“The Text Message Turns 20: A Brief History of SMS.” 2017. Accessed August 11. http://theweek.com/articles/469869/text-message-turns-20-brief-history-sms.

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Increase Sales with a Smart Video Conferencing Strategy

Desktop Video ConferenceThere are many compelling reasons for sales professionals to use video conferencing.

For example, video conferencing allows for more personal, face-to-face interactions with prospects; the medium lends itself to product demonstrations; and the ability to hold a conference without travel means you can accomplish more in less time and with less driving. While each of these are good reasons to start using video conferencing, having a smart strategy is even better.

Why Make the Switch to Desktop Video Conferencing?

Did you know that roughly 80 percent of non-routine sales happen AFTER at least five previous sales calls? That’s a lot of “no’s” in order to get that “yes.” What’s more, a huge chunk of sales people (44 percent) give up immediately and an additional 22 percent give up on the second no. Only about 8 percent stick around for the eventual win. By planning a series of in-person, phone, and video meetings and understanding that, in most cases, you’ll need to interact at least five times after the initial contact, you’ll have the opportunity to close more deals.

As you likely know, the most costly and time-consuming meetings are in-person, face-to-face meetings. Yet, they are crucial. The vast majority of sales people have indicated that they’ve lost sales due to a lack of face time.

Video conferencing allows you to get that precious one-on-one, face-to-face interaction with your prospects without the hassles of travel. Because of its ease of use, desktop video allows for more frequent contact, too. Like an in-person meeting, conversations are more nuanced, complete with facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal forms of communication. By tuning into these cues, you can steer the conversation accordingly, overcoming potential objections or providing educational information based on the vibes the prospect is giving off. Plus, video conferencing is highly engaging, resulting in an increase in attention spans and stronger, more personal relationships.

Since you can share your screen with desktop video collaboration, presenting an existing PowerPoint, YouTube video, or product photos is a snap. You could even demonstrate a product your video call or take prospects on a virtual tour of your office or factory.

By engaging with your prospects more often, you can also decrease the length of the sales cycle, boosting your sales as a result.

Individual vs Group Video Sales Calls

Should you invite a single prospect or hold a group video sales call? It depends on the situation. For example, if you sell products to individual office managers, small business owners, or purchasing personnel, one-on-one video conferences are appropriate.

Group video sales calls may be necessary, especially if multiple people are involved in the buying decision. For instance, if you sell products or services to a school district, you may need to have the school principal, facilities manager, and the district’s purchasing manager on the line.

Using Video Conference Calls Before the Sale

Whether working with an individual or group, desktop video serves as a helpful sales tool before the sale. For example, you could use it to pitch a new product or service to a B2B prospect instead of scheduling a sit-down meeting. Since the pitch may only take 5 to 10 minutes of your prospect’s time, you may find that scheduling a video conference is easier and less intimidating to the prospect than scheduling an in-person meeting.

As mentioned above, you’ll likely encounter a series of rejections before the prospect finally converts. Thus, you need a plan to get past all of those no’s. Your plan may follow a specific sequence such as:

  • An initial in-person meeting to introduce yourself and learn about the business
  • A video conference to gather requirements and / or share relevant research applicable to the prospect’s business
  • A video conference to meet other decision makers, build rapport, and demonstrate your solution
  • A phone call to answer general questions
  • A third video conference with one of your engineers to answer technical questions
  • A video conference to educate and expand upon the benefits of your solution

When your prospect finally says “yes,” what better place to go over and finalize the terms of the sale than in a video conference?

Using Video Conference Calls After the Sale

Desktop video remains valuable long after the sale. Common uses include:

  • Client onboarding and product training
  • Following up to make sure the product or service is working as expected
  • Providing support as needed
  • Sharing additional resources and information helpful to the customer
  • Staying in touch

Using Video Conferencing to Supercharge Your Sales Team

Did you know about half of all sales managers lack the time to train and develop their sales teams? Not only does video conferencing free more of your time so you can focus on your team’s progress, it’s an effective medium for learning.

Likewise, imagine if each member of your sales team were able to hold two-to-four more sales meetings per week consistently. With additional training and extra and more frequent meetings with prospects, an increase in sales is an expected outcome.

Desktop video conferencing is an easy-to-use, affordable sales tool that can become a strategic sales asset. Your prospects don’t need any fancy equipment, and will likely appreciate the time savings afforded on their part as well. Build stronger relationships, stay at the top of your prospects’ minds, work your way through the buyer’s journey, shorten the sales cycle, and increase sales by adopting video conferencing today.

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“3 Ways the Newer Generation of Video Conferencing Benefits Sales Organizations.” 2017. BlueJeans. Accessed July 25. https://www.ivci.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sales_eBook_3_Ways_the_New_Generation_of_Video_Conferencing_Benefits_Sales_Organiza.pdf.

“How to Improve Sales Calls with Video Conferencing – Highfive.” 2017. Accessed July 25. https://highfive.com/blog/how-to-improve-sales-calls-with-video-conferencing/.

“Video Conferencing for Sales Reps Should Be a Requirement – Why Face to Face Is Still the Best Form of Communication.” 2017. Accessed July 25. https://www.edgewaternetworks.com/blog/2015/02/video-conferencing-for-sales-reps-should-be-a-requirement-why-face-to-face-is-still-the-best-form-of-communication/.

“Why 8% of Sales People Get 80% of the Sales | Marketing Donut.” 2017. Accessed July 25. http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/sales/sales-techniques-and-negotiations/why-8-of-sales-people-get-80-of-the-sales.

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The Evolution of Missed Calls

Global CommunicationsYou’re likely well familiar with leaving and receiving voicemail messages. After all, voicemail is ubiquitous on smartphones, VoIP phones, and even landlines with a voicemail service from their telephone service provider.

Voicemail is also amazingly easy to use both for the caller and the recipient. Plus, it’s super handy when you’re simply not available to speak or if you missed a call. However, capturing your missed phone calls wasn’t always this easy.

Let’s take a look at how people dealt with missed calls through the years.

Answering Service

In the early 20th century, most telephone operators were women, often called “Call Girls” or “The Voice with a Smile.” Phone companies required these operators to “switch” calls on the switchboard. Rather than dialing the other party directly as we do today, you’d first speak with an operator and she would make the connection.

As friendly as they may have been, operators were there to connect calls on the switchboard, not take your messages. That was the job of an answering service, a business model that is still in use today. Using an answering service, professionals such as doctors and lawyers no longer needed to worry about missed calls — even during lunch or after hours. Instead, their calls would be answered by live operators who would cheerfully take messages and then relay them to the client at a later time. According to an old training manual, Getting Down to Business: Answering Service, Module 17, from the early 1980s, most clients were charged a monthly service fee plus individual fees for each call received.

Answering Machines

Answering machines date back to the late 1800s, early 1900s when the “telegraphone” was invented. This device was invented by Valdemar Poulsen, a Danish engineer in 1898 and patented in 1900. The telegraphone used magnetic sound recording and reproduction technology, with the audio recording stored on a wire. The telegraphone never really caught on with the public, but found some usage during WW1.

According to EngineersGarage.com, in 1935, the first automatic answering machine was invented by Willy Muller, finding popularity amongst the Orthodox Jewish population who were prohibited from answering telephone calls on the Sabbath. These early answering machines were large and impractical.

Remember watching The Rockford Files? Jim Rockford was on the cutting edge of answering machine technology back then with a tape-based machine that was prominently featured during the intro with new messages for each episode. Here’s one for you from Episode 109: “This is the message phone company. I see you’re using our unit, now how about paying for it?”

Vintage answering machine

Not only did answering machines allow business professionals to avoid missed calls, they allowed for screening calls. By letting the answering machine pick up the call, you could listen in as the caller began leaving a message.

If you wanted to speak to that person, you could then pick up the handset and have a conversation. On the other hand, if you didn’t want to talk, you could just let the machine do its job and deal with it later.

Answering machines still exist today with most of them using digital recording technologies rather than analog magnetic tapes.

“Who Invented the Answering Machine? History of Answering Machine Invention.”



Voicemail was invented by Gordon Matthews in the late 1970s. Matthews filed for a patent for “Voice Message Express” in 1979 and was awarded it in 1983. His company, VMX, sold its first voicemail system to 3M. VMX was later sold to Octel Communications, which was acquired by Lucent Technologies, which was spun off to Avaya.

Voicemail screening


As you likely know, voicemail is extremely popular and readily available today. All modern cell phones include it, and just about any phone service offers voicemail either bundled into your plan or as an option.

Voicemail Patent “United States Patent: 4652700.”


Voicemail has evolved since Matthews’ day. For example, in addition to accessing your messages by pressing certain keys on your keypad, some services offer voicemail-to-text transcriptions whereby your messages arrive via email or text message in a readable format. Some providers forward audio recordings of your messages the same way. You can also access your messages through a web portal, which is handy if you’re out of town and want to check your missed calls.

Voicemail doesn’t typically allow for call screening the way answering machines do. Rather, you must rely on Caller ID in order to determine whether to accept a call or let it go to voicemail. Apple has, however, applied for a patent for live voicemail screening for its iPhones. Some phone systems, including Avaya’s, have a form of voicemail screening that can be enabled.

“Apple Patents Live Voicemail Screening, Would Let Users Pick Up And Answer Mid-Message | TechCrunch.”


MP3 Recordings (Conference Calls)

Whether you use a landline, PBX system, VoIP phone, or a mobile phone, voicemail helps to ensure that you never miss a call. But what about conference calls? Technology solves this problem, too. Most conference calling services include an option where the call’s moderator can initiate an audio recording. If you miss a conference call, ask the moderator if an MP3 recording of the call is available for your review.

Since the invention of the telephone, innovations have evolved to ensure that even if we miss a phone call, we won’t necessarily miss the message.

“How to Send and Receive Audio Text Messages | iPhoneLife.com.”


Read on

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Early Communications from Semaphores and Wired Signals to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph

What Hath God Wrought!

Industry & InventionIn a world where we’re instantly connected to others via smartphones, text messaging, web chats, and international conference calls, it’s hard to imagine the old days. Going back just a decade or so, our devices were clunky and calling costs relatively high. Calling someone on the other side of the planet was something you might do once a year due to the difficulty and huge price tag; now it’s routine, easy and cheap. But what about 100 or even 200 years ago? Though quaint by modern standards, early telecom is fascinating — and it changed the world!

Le Systeme Chappe — The Semaphore as an Early Telegraph

While Samuel Morse is credited as the inventor of the telegraph (from Greek, telegraph means “distance writing”), another telegraph system came before it, Claude Chappe’s nationwide semaphore system in France which had its heyday from 1793 to 1854.

Le Systeme Chappe consisted of 534 hilltop stations with large movable arms and telescopes spanning more than 3100 miles. The arms were used to signal letters and numbers while the telescopes were used to view the signals sent from other stations. Prior to semaphores, it would take horseback riders several days to dispatch a message from Paris to the outer fringes of France. With the semaphore network, it would take just three or four hours.

Chappe Semaphore

The fastest message sent over Le System Chappe took just 60 minutes from Paris to Strasbourg, relaying news of the birth of Napoleon’s son.

The Telegraph Revolutionizes Telecommunications

No doubt, the semaphore was far more efficient than dispatch riders, but its usefulness was short-lived thanks to the invention of the telegraph and electrical signals that traveled across wires.

Several inventors were involved in the development of the telegraph. Samuel Morse receives most of the credit for this invention. His single circuit telegraph sent an electrical signal across a wire to a receiver located on the other end. He also developed a code, Morse code, of long and short dots to represent letters and numbers.

On the receiving end, the receiver initially made actual pen marks on paper as the message was received. These marks were later translated and transcribed by the operator. Since the operators could hear and understand the electrical signals, the receiver was later updated to produce a more distinct beeping sound and the pen and paper mechanism phased out.

The first message ever sent on a telegraph was sent by Samuel Morse to co-inventor Alfred Vail. It said simply, “What hath God wrought!”

Where the semaphore took hours to send a message across thousands of miles, the telegraph sent messages almost instantly once the infrastructure was in place. Western Union Telegraphy Company laid the first transcontinental line in 1861. By 1866, the first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable was placed in the Atlantic Ocean, making international telegraphy a reality.

As you can imagine, near-instant telecommunications changed how business was conducted, how wars were fought, and even how money was exchanged.


Atlantic telegraph cable being laid

The Land Line Arrives

Alexander Graham Bell would invent yet another world-changing invention. He wanted to improve telegraphy, dispensing with the codes and the required trip to a telegraph office in order to receive a message in favor of the transmission of audible words. His experiments worked, and Bell patented the telephone in 1876.

A year later, President Hayes had the first telephone installed in the telegraph office of the White House, which was down the hall from the Oval Office. His first phone call was reportedly with Alexander Graham Bell located 13 miles away. According to the Providence Journal, after listening to the caller, he examined the receiver and said, “That is wonderful.”

As wonderful as it may have been, it took 52 years before the telephone was finally moved from the telegraph room into the Oval Office.

The Telegraph Goes Wireless

Meanwhile, scientists were theorizing on another topic, electromagnetic waves. In 1888, Heinrich Hertz proved that radio waves existed, a theory originally put forth by James Clerk Maxwell. He also proved that the velocity of electromagnetic waves was the same as the velocity of light — and thus, could circle the earth eight times in a single second.

According to the book, Historic Inventions by Rubert Holland,

“Wireless signals are in reality wave motions in the magnetic forces of the earth, or, in other words, disturbances of those forces. They are sent out through this magnetic field, and follow the earth’s curvature, in the same way that tidal waves follow the ocean’s surface. Everywhere about us there is a sea of what science calls the ether, and the ether is constantly in a state of turmoil, because it is the medium through which energy, radiating from the sun, is carried to the earth and other planets. This energy is transmitted through the free ether in waves, which are known as electromagnetic waves.”

TelegraphyHertz tinkered with an oscillator that would send out waves of a certain length and a receiver that would tune in and receive only waves of that same length. To produce the electromagnetic waves, Hertz combined metal’s capacity to retain a charge of electricity with inductance which involves sending a constantly changing current through a coil of wire. He adjusted the capacity and inductance so that the waves had the same frequency of motion, or oscillations. The receiving station (typically a tall mast with a single wire or set of wires, aka an antenna) would be tuned to vibrate to those waves. Once tuned, it could then intercept those waves and transform them back into their original electrical oscillations.

This early wireless technology was improved upon in the late 1880s by Guglielmo Marconi of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company. His wireless telegraph company could handle transmissions spanning distances of ten miles or more — including a wireless transmission across the English Channel and between ships. The company had agreements with several governments and Lloyd’s to erect coastal stations to complement the wireless stations used on shipping lines.

Having studied Hertz’s theories, Marconi understood the potential for long distance wireless transmissions. He was the first to connect an antenna to the transmitter (and not just the receiver), allowing for a much larger wireless field. He demonstrated his theories with a wireless telegraph located on Signal Hill near St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1901. The apparatus had an ordinary telephone receiver at its side. A wire from the machine led outdoors to a large kite flying 400 feet above. He held the receiver to his ear, waiting for the Morse code signal to arrive from Poldhu, England. The tapper struck the coherer on the apparatus, signaling that a message was coming. Indeed, soon after, the sounds of Morse code could be heard over the telephone receiver. The transatlantic wireless transmission was a success!

Turns out, that while transmission worked, Marconi’s theory that the radio waves would follow the earth’s curvature was incorrect. The signal was actually headed to outer space, but deflected by the ionosphere back to Newfoundland.

The wireless telegraph was an immediate hit, and Marconi was awarded the Nobel Prize for “the most important invention in physical science.”

From ancient smoke signals, dispatch riders, and semaphores to the telegraph, telephone, and wireless and Internet technologies, mankind has a long tradition of telecommunications. Whether used for staying on top of the latest news, conducting business, diplomatic purposes, or simply staying in touch, we can thank the long line of inventors such as Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Heinrich Hertz, and Guglielmo Marconi, just to name a few, for the technologies we use today.

Read more



“Alexander Graham Bell – Inventions – HISTORY.com.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/alexander-graham-bell.

“File:Chappe Semaphore.jpg – Wikimedia Commons.” Accessed July 10, 2017. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chappe_semaphore.jpg.

“From Telephones to Twitter, the White House Has a Fascinating History of Tech Upgrades | Jacksonville News, Sports and Entertainment | Jacksonville.com.” Newspaper. Accessed July 10, 2017. http://jacksonville.com/news/national/2017-06-29/telephones-twitter-white-house-has-fascinating-history-tech-upgrades.

“From Telephones to Twitter, the White House Has a Fascinating History of Tech Upgrades | Jacksonville News, Sports and Entertainment | Jacksonville.com.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://jacksonville.com/news/national/2017-06-29/telephones-twitter-white-house-has-fascinating-history-tech-upgrades.

“Hayes Has First Phone Installed in White House – May 10, 1877 – HISTORY.com.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/hayes-has-first-phone-installed-in-white-house.

“How Napoleon’s Semaphore Telegraph Changed the World – BBC News.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22909590.

“Marconi Sends First Atlantic Wireless Transmission – Dec 12, 1901 – HISTORY.com.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/marconi-sends-first-atlantic-wireless-transmission.

“Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co.” The Republic, November 15, 1903.

“Maxwell and Hertz.” Accessed July 10, 2017. https://science.hq.nasa.gov/kids/imagers/ems/consider.html.

“Morse Code & the Telegraph – Inventions – HISTORY.com.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/telegraph.

“Nikola Tesla – The Father of Modern Telecommunications | SWG, Inc.” Accessed July 10, 2017. https://swginc.com/nikola-tesla-father-modern-telecommunications/.

“President Rutherford Hayes.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.classroomhelp.com/lessons/Presidents/hayes.html.

Rubert Holland. “MARCONI AND THE WIRELESS TELEGRAPH 1874-.” In Historic Inventions. GEORGE W. JACOBS & COMPANY PUBLISHERS, 1911. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42517/42517-h/42517-h.htm#XV.

“Telephone & Light Patent Drawings | National Archives.” Accessed July 10, 2017. https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/telephone-light-patents.

“The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Romance of Industry and Invention, by Robert Cochrane.” Accessed July 10, 2017. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/38329/38329-h/38329-h.htm#Page_281.n.d.

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Party Lines, the Original Group Audio Call

Party Line - The Original Conference call

Party Line – The Original Conference call

When you pick up the telephone at your home or office, it’s a given that the call will take place over a private line.

You know that whether you initiate a call with one, two, three, or more individuals, only those you’ve specifically included will be on the call.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, party lines, which are a type of shared / group telephone subscription service, were the dominant type of phone service for decades.

By the 1950s, when they were just starting to fall out of favor, roughly 75 percent of all residential customers in the United States were on party lines.

What is a Party Line?

A party line is a local telephone line shared by two or more subscribers. When the party line was in use, any other subscribers could pick up their telephones and listen in. This meant that there was absolutely no privacy. If you needed to make a phone call and the line was in use, you’d simply have to wait your turn. In most states, if you had an emergency and announced your emergency as such, the other parties were legally obligated to hang up so you could make your emergency call.

Whose Line Is It? How Recipients Recognized Calls Intended for Them

When someone called the group party line, all of the telephones within that group would ring. Can you imagine the chaos with dozens of people answering at once? Fortunately, the telephone company had an answer for this: custom ringtones (or “signal codes” as they were called back in the day)!

According to the Cyclopedia of Telegraphy and Telephony, the signal code for each “station” typically consisted of combinations of long and short rings, much like Morse code’s dots and dashes. For example, station 1 would be notified with one short ring while station 2 would receive two short rings. Recognizing that people would have difficulty interpreting ring sequences above five, the higher numbered stations would use long and short rings. For example, station 11 would have a signal code with one long ring and one short ring while station 12’s signal code was one long ring and two short rings.

Thus, if your home was designated as station 11, you’d keep your ear out for one long ring followed by one short one.

While common sense would dictate that people would only pick up the telephone when their signal code rang, reality was a different story. Eavesdropping was a serious concern, so much so that the Bell System produced a short film and a comic book about party line etiquette in 1946.

Not only was eavesdropping considered rude, as it is today, having multiple parties connected to the line at the same time drained local batteries and impaired the ringing efficiency of the party line due to the way the current passed through the infrastructure.

Determining the Size of a Group Party Line

The phone company had to weigh several factors to determine how many stations to place on a single party line. It wasn’t a matter of the central office’s capacity, but rather finding the balance where multiple parties could use the party line without undue interference from other users and easily interpret their own signal codes without having to suffer through non-stop ringing.

Telephone “traffic” was also analyzed. In general, city dwellers tended to make short, two or three-minute phone calls whereas rural callers tended to chat for much longer – up to a half hour or more. Thus, rural party lines typically had fewer subscribers than their urban counterparts.

Party Lines Phased Out

As you can imagine, having to wait a half hour or longer to maybe get a chance to make your own phone call was annoying — and knowing that your conversations were likely being listened in on unsettling. Private lines were available, but there was a backlog during World War II. By the 1950s, private lines became more readily available and party lines fell out of favor between the 1950s and 1970s. Local circuit loops, however, found a small niche with young adults for a time, with topic- or interest-specific party lines serving as a pre-Internet social network. Between 1988 and 2000, most big phone companies had eliminated party lines altogether.

Looking back at the way phones were used in the past, we realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Today, three-way calling and conference calls are excellent choices for family and business communications. Fortunately, all the negatives of the old party lines, such as lack of privacy and having to listen for your own signal code out of many, are long gone.


Old Bell Party Line Etiquette video here:

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Togo International Conference Calling

Togo FlagYou can host Togo international conference calls by using our global conference calling service. While we offer toll free and in-country access numbers for over 100 countries, for Togo international conference calls, the access to the call is enabled using the Connect app or via the dial-out feature or by requesting the connection from the 24 hour operator.

Fortunately, there are several convenient options for hosting or participating in Togo global conference calls using our pay-as-you-go service.

We suggest the following:

  • Use the Connect app — This is a free mobile and desktop app that makes accessing Togo international calls a simple matter of tapping a button. The app routes all calls over our modern PSTN fiberoptic telecommunications network, ensuring that your Togo conference calls are crystal clear no matter where in the world you or your participants may be. It also allows you to manually join other participants as well as record your conference calls. When you connect using the app, you get our competitive dial-out rates, too.
  • Use the dial-out feature — have the chairperson if located in one of the 100+ countries where toll-free access exists, dial-out to you in Togo to add you and your Togo based participants to your call.
  • Ask for operator assistance — Our US-based operators work 24/7 and are readily available to connect you or your participants to your Togo conference calls.

The Togolese Republic, or Togo as it’s commonly called, was once known as Togoland. Togo is one of the smallest African countries measuring just 22,000 square miles. The country is located in West Africa next to Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, and the Gulf of Guinea. The official language is French, though numerous languages are spoken throughout Togo.

Togoland was a German protectorate from 1884 through World War I, at which point it became French Togoland. Togo gained its independence from France in 1960 but, according to CIA World Factbook, has been ruled “with a heavy hand” for nearly 40 years. Togo’s former President Eyadema took over in 1967 after a military coup and ruled until his death in 2005. His son, was installed as president in the aftermath. Togo’s first free legislative elections were held in late 2007. A presidential election in Togo has since followed, but not without controversies.

Today, Togo is home to 7,552,318 people. It is a poor country with about half of the population living below the poverty line, low life expectancy (especially among men), and high infant mortality. Togo has also been impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Commercial and subsistence agriculture make up the bulk of Togo’s economy, yet Togo imports basic foods. Togo’s main crops are cocoa, cotton, and coffee which collectively represent about 40 percent of Togo’s export revenue. Togo also is rich in phosphate and is one of the largest phosphate producers in the world.

Because it relies on agriculture, Togo’s economy is vulnerable to weather conditions and international coffee, cocoa, and cotton price fluctuations.

Telecommunications in Togo

According to CIA World Factbook, Togo had 63,200 filed line telephones in 2014, which is about one fixed line phone for every 100 people. In 2014, Togo had 4.8 million mobile cellular phone subscribers, or about 66 mobile subscribers for every 100 people.

The CIA World Factbook describes Togo’s phone system as fair. The network is primarily based on microwave radio relay with supplemental open-wire lines. Togo has one satellite earth station and is connected to the West Africa Cable System.

According to Africa and Middle East Telecom Week, the fixed line operator in Togo is Societe des Telecommunications du Togo (Togo Telecom). Mobile operators in Togo include Moov and Togo Cellulaire.

As of 2014, just 336,000 (4.6 percent of Togo’s population) people in Togo were Internet users. Internet cafes are a popular option for accessing the Internet. According to an undated article on BalancingAct-Africa.com, Togo has more than 200 Internet cafes in its capital city. Internet services include dial-up and fixed and wireless broadband. The two largest Internet service providers are Café Informatique et Télécommunication, a private company, and Togo Telecom, the incumbent phone company.

Togo International Phone Calls

If you need to call someone in Togo from another country, Togo’s international country code is 228. First, dial your country’s exit code and then dial 228 followed by the phone number.

If you are in Togo and need to call someone in another country, Togo’s exit code is 00. Dial that followed by the international country code for the other country and then the phone number.

Hosting Togo conference calls is easier than you may think, and our pay-as-you-go international conferencing plans are the perfect choice. There are no contracts, no monthly fees, and no commitment, yet you get competitive rates and advanced conference calling features like MP3 recording, PSTN connections, dial-out tools, a live online conference viewer, and more. Sign up for an account today and begin hosting international conference calls in Togo and around the world.

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International Conference Call Zambia

Zambia Landscape

International Conference Calling in Zambia

You can host and participate in international conference calls in Zambia using our global conferencing service. For attendees in more than 100 countries, we offer toll free and local access numbers.

For attendees in Zambia to join a global conference call, we provide international access via the included dial-out feature and the free Connect App.

Included dial-out feature

Using the dial-out feature permits connecting any phone number worldwide to your conference call directly through your account without the use of the operator.

The dial-out feature enables the chairperson to use a simple key-pad command to add a guest to the conference call at any time.  The attendee can be located in Zambia or any other country.

Dial Out Feature

Connect App | Use with it with iPhone, Android, PC or Mac

This app facilitates the actual connection, taking care of all international exit and country codes while also ensuring that all calls are routed over the highest quality PSTN telephone networks at our low dial-out rates. Both the chairperson of the Zambia international conference call and attendees from around the world can use the app.

You can even record your conference calls, mute lines, dial participants directly, and more — all within the app.

Example of the Connect App on an iPhone

Connect AppOur live operators can also help. They’re in the United States and work around the clock. They can connect attendees from Zambia into your global conference calls for you.

Perhaps best of all, our international conferencing plans are pay-as-you-go with no contract. Whether you need to host a single Zambia conference call or plan on doing so on a regular basis, you pay only for the minutes used. Meanwhile, you get the best call global conference call quality, easy-to-use features, a free Connect app, advanced features, live operator assistance, and more.

About Zambia

The Republic of Zambia is located in Southern Africa. It is completely landlocked, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.

The British South Africa Company administered the region as a territory called Northern Rhodesia from 1891 to 1923. The United Kingdom took over in 1923. Northern Rhodesia gained its independence in 1964 and changed its name to Zambia.

Zambia was subject to one-party rule until the 1991 election. A decade later, the election had its share of conflict. Several elections and a presidential succession have since followed.

Today, there are an estimated 15,066,266 people living in Zambia. According to CIA World Factbook, for the past decade, Zambia has had one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, Zambia also has a fast-growing population, a huge HIV/AIDS burden, and decades of economic shortfalls to make up for.

The main economic driver for Zambia is copper. In the 1990s, the country privatized government-owned copper mines, a move that prompted economic growth while also relieving the government from having to cover copper losses. The copper industry has competition from the Democratic Republic of the Congo which recently surpassed Zambia as the largest copper producer in Africa. The copper industry is also vulnerable to price fluctuations.

Agriculture is another economic driver for Zambia, with more jobs in agriculture than in mining. Crops, cattle, pork, chicken, eggs, dairy, edible oils, fish, and feedstock are among the many agricultural products produced by Zambia.

Victoria Falls is a major tourist destination in Zambia, and some of the best wildlife habitats, national parks, and game reserves entice international tourists to visit.

Challenges that Zambia continues to face include poverty, high unemployment, inconsistent economic policy, HIV/AIDS, weakness in its currency, and increased mineral royalty taxes. Though Zambia exports between $7 and $8 billion each year, about 68 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line.

Telecommunications in Zambia

According to CIA World Factbook, there were 110,000 fixed line phone subscribers in Zambia as of 2014 estimates for a telephone density of 1 fixed line phone for every 100 people. At the same time, there were 10.1 million mobile cellular subscribers in Zambia for a mobile tele density of 60 mobile phones for every 100 people.

Zambia’s telephone system is considered to be one of the best in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a high-capacity microwave radio relay system domestically that links most of the larger towns and cities. For rural areas, a domestic satellite system is in the works. Zambia has 5 satellite earth stations, and Internet access is available throughout the country. About 2.3 million people in Zambia were Internet users in 2014. That’s about 15.4 percent of the population.

According to Budde.com.au, Zambia now has access to international submarine fiber optic cables, resulting in consumer price reductions for broadband services. 3G, LTE, and WiMAX networks have been launched in Zambia, which should help to increase the country’s Internet penetration rates.

Making International Phone Calls in Zambia

If you are in Zambia and need to call a phone number outside of the country, you will need to first dial Zambia’s exit code which is 00 followed by the international country code, area code, and phone number of the other party.

Zambia’s international country code is 260. If you are calling someone in Zambia from outside the country, you’ll need to dial your own exit code followed by 260 and the phone number.

Learn more about International Conference Call Zambia Service here



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Using Conference Calls for Job Recruiting Internationally

Using Conference Calls for Job Recruiting InternationallyHuman resources professionals often use conference calls as part of the recruiting process even when they may be recruiting for international positions.

Below are a few easy-to-implement ideas for using global conference calls in your human resources department.

  • Use conference calls to get a better understanding of the type of candidate each manager is looking for. While an email or formal request to fill a position can provide you with a general, or even highly detailed, idea of the position that needs to be filled, sometimes a conversation is necessary to get a solid understanding about what each manager is looking for in a candidate. It’s not unusual for two or more individuals to have their own requirements. A quick conference call can bring the key decision makers together, even if they are scattered across the world, to define the position’s qualifications.
  • Use a conference call to discuss your recruiting requirements with temporary staffing agencies. If you use staffing agencies to fill temporary or permanent positions, you may find it helpful to gather your colleagues into a group audio call with your account representative from the agency.
  • Use conference calls to pre-screen candidates worldwide. As applications and resumes begin flowing in, you’re sure to find some qualified candidates. However, some may be located on the other side of world. For the most promising candidates, you may want to conduct a quick initial interview via an audio or video conference call before inviting select candidates to a formal interview.
  • Review MP3 recordings of your screening calls and interviews to help your team make a hiring decision. It’s smart to record your initial interviews so that you can review them later. Not only that, you could share the recordings with those involved in making the hiring decision (assuming they did not join the conference call when it originally took place). Knowing that you have a recording of the conference call to fall back on, you may also find that you’re better able to actively listen to the job applicant. Spend less time taking notes, and more time conversing.

While you could pick up any office phone and call applicants directly, having a Canada conference calling plan allows you to bring more people, like direct supervisors, managers, and agency representatives, into the conversation.

With our pay-as-you-go international conferencing service, participants can be located anywhere and join simply by dialing a toll free or local phone number. Since the plan is contract-free, you can use it as needed, paying only for the minutes used and nothing more. Our services are filled with must-have tools like MP3 recording, a mobile app, a live online conference viewer, crisp sound quality, and much more. Give our global conference calling service a try by signing up for a pay-as-you-go plan today.

By figuring out your anticipated conference calling costs on a per minute basis, not only will you be able to get a better idea about the total cost of your teleconference, you may also be more conscientious about enforcing time limits during the conference call.  You may realize just how affordable conference calls are compared to other meeting methods, and host them more often to get things done.

Discover just how affordable global conference calls are by using our pay-as-you-go teleconferencing service. There are no monthly fees, no minimum usage requirements, no contracts, and no surprises.

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Why US Businesses Make Canada Conference Calls and Vice Versa

Merger acquisition conference callsSo, you’ve signed up for a US-Canada conference calling service.

Now what? While you may have initially signed up for a specific purpose, such as interacting with colleagues or partners across the border, there are many opportunities for group audio calls involving participants within your own country or across both countries.

Below are just a few ideas to get you started.

Traditional Business Conference Calls

Canada and US business professionals are accustomed to using conference calls as a routine part of business. When you have vendors, partners, contractors, customers, and other contacts with whom you’d like to speak in a group setting, a conference call is the perfect choice. When participants are from both USA and Canada, our conference calling service makes coordinating, managing, and participating in these traditional conference calls a simple matter.

Expanding Your Teleseminars to Canada

Many US consultants, coaches, trainers, and motivational speakers hold regular teleseminars using audio conferencing tools. However, why restrict your audience to the United States only? If it makes sense for your business, you could use our Canada toll free conference calling service to expand your teleseminars into Canada. It’s just as easy as holding a US conference call for you and for your audience members.

For example, those in the United States may join your conference calls by dialing a local or toll free number. Meanwhile, those in Canada will do the same, except their local numbers will be specific to Canadian cities instead of American ones. Cost variances are minimal and our rates for both countries are extremely competitive.

Informational Conference Calls

Do you need to relay information to a group of potential bidders in USA and Canada? Conference calls are one way to broadcast your RFQ information to a large group in a single session. Not only can you have as many as 150 participants from USA and Canada join you in an informational conference call, you could also record the conference and make the MP3 recording available for bidders to listen to at their leisure.

Business Mergers & Acquisitions

Entering into a merger or acquisition requires a great deal of communication between business owners, brokers, attorneys, M&A consultants, and other key players. Who’s to say everyone will be conveniently located in USA? Imagine a software company merger involving a firm in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia. Though geographically close, you’ll need a US – Canada conferencing solution to ensure that your group audio call is easy and convenient for all attendees to join.

Family Conference Calls

Do you have family members scattered across Canada and the United States? Whether planning a family reunion, coordinating the care of an elderly parent or grandparent, or simply enjoying one another’s company during the holidays, a US – Canada conference call can bring everyone together in a single phone call.

With our contract-free conferencing plans, you can host US – Canada conference calls as needed for any number of use cases. Since you pay only for the minutes used, you don’t need to worry about maximizing your plan — it’s already maximized based on how you use it. Sign up for an account today and begin interacting with your group based on your needs.

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What does pay-as-you-go mean?

Pay as you goPros and Cons of Pay-As-You-Go Conference Calling

Pay-as-you-go pricing models have become increasingly popular in the telecommunications industry.

Is it the right choice as far as business conference calling goes?  It could be. Check out the pros and cons listed below.

  • You pay only for the time you and your conference attendees spend in conference calls. With pay-as-you-go pricing, there are no recurring fees or minimum usage requirements. Thus, on months where you don’t use the service, you don’t pay. Verdict: PRO!
  • There’s no long-term contract. If you company makes a very high volume of conference calls on a regular basis, you might get a better deal by signing up for long-term contract. However, there’s that long-term contract to consider — and you may be surprised to find out that pay-as-you-go per minute rates are competitive with contracted plans. What happens if the audio quality of the service is bad? What if attendees from Canada cannot join your USA conference call? What if you find that you don’t actually use the service as much as you thought you would use it? What if the service is unreliable, or worse, unusable? That’s a lot of “what if’s,” and with a contract, you’re stuck until the term is over. If you’d rather not deal with contracts, pay-as-you-go is the way to go. Verdict: PRO!
  • Pay-as-you-go rates are competitive. Our USA and Canada conference calling rates are mere pennies per minute. Even our highest rate for local Canada access is just 2.9 cents per minute. Local USA access is just 1.7 cents per minute. By the time you overpay for a conference calling plan with minutes you don’t use, you may find that your contracted plan is more expensive than you realized. Verdict: PRO!
  • Pay-as-you-go conference calling providers in the US and Canada need to be competitive, thus they include advanced features to be as competitive as possible. In a competitive landscape like the telecommunications industry, being competitive isn’t just about having the cheapest rates; it’s also about being an exceptional value. Our conference calling plans are packed with the most advanced features and are powered by modern, reliable telecom networks and infrastructure. Live operators are available around the clock, too. Verdict: PRO!

Hmmn, we’re having a tough time thinking of any cons involved with pay-as-you-go conference calling. In fact, since there are no contracts and no penalties for canceling the service, even if you were completely unhappy, you can move on, no questions asked. Your satisfaction is important to us though, so we welcome your feedback.

The pros clearly outweigh the cons of pay-as-you-go pricing for USA and Canada conference calls. Whether you expect to make a lot of conference calls for just a few here and there, consider giving our service a try. We’re confident that you’ll find that going this route is a great choice.

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