YOU ARE AT:Archived ArticlesNEW 500 AREA CODE MAY BOOST DEMAND FOR 1-NUMBER SERVICES

NEW 500 AREA CODE MAY BOOST DEMAND FOR 1-NUMBER SERVICES

Demand for one-number services may become even greater now that the non-geographic 500 area code is available, according to Accessline Technologies Inc., a company in the one-number ball game.

“The whole idea of having a personal phone number has become very popular. Now, with the 500 area code, you can have one number for life, and take it with you wherever you move,” said Kimberly Tassin of Accessline, a Bellevue, Wash.-based software developer.

The Federal Communications Commission began releasing the non-geographic, 500 area code in July. Companies such as Accessline, as well as large operators like AT&T Corp. and Ameritech, have received the numbers to sell to customers.

One-number service allows subscribers to route all their phone numbers-home, office, facsimile, pager and cellular-through a single number. It is the only number subscribers need to give out and it is being marketed as a service that enables people to telephone people, not places.

Since the one phone number reaches a switching station, it doesn’t have to change if the customer’s geographic location changes, especially if a non-geographic area code is used. Only the system’s internal seven-digit numbers will change, Tassin said.

Accessline’s one-number system is up and running in 20 cities in the United States and Canada, in markets such as Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Ontario and Quebec.

“Anyone applying for a 500 area code block must demonstrate the ability to operate such a system. We can provide the software to make their 500 numbers meet the requirements,” Tassin said.

Accessline says it invented the software for its one-number system in 1983 and sealed it through an alliance with Stratus Computer Inc., which utilizes UNIX operating systems.

Other players also are coming up to bat with one-number services, such as Glenayre Technologies Inc. with its Constant Touch system.

“These services are designed to reach people, not locations,” said Dan Case, senior vice president and general manager of Glenayre’s voice messaging division.

Priority Call Management, based in Wilmington, Mass., has created the one-number MSX system for the business person on the go. The one-number subscriber keeps the system informed of where calls are routed, such as to a cellular phone or to the home answering machine. Incoming calls go through a switching system, where the caller receives options, such as going to voice mail or sending a fax.

The system also can volunteer to hunt for the subscriber. If the caller chooses that option, the system obtains the caller’s identity. The system contacts the subscriber at the informed location and announces the caller. The subscriber can choose to accept the call or send it elsewhere. It’s a system that offers great screening options, say its promoters.

It’s not only convenient for the subscriber, but it’s easier on the caller, said Andy Dale, vice president of marketing for Priority Call. “Instead of trying to track someone down at their office, then calling their cellular, you just call one number and complete your transaction. People can call people, not places,” Dale said.

Because the subscriber makes all decisions about where calls should be sent, it’s a customized service tailored to meet the individual’s needs, said Ted Nolte, senior associate at the Metzler and Associates consulting firm, which focuses on the utilities and telecommunications industries.

“Priority’s MSX delivers a whole new level of functionality for organizations seeking to support mobile individuals,” Nolte said.

Sprint Cellular Co. and Bell Atlantic Corp. have launched a commercial trial of a one-number service called FutureLink with 600 customers in Las Vegas. The service will allow customers to define what they want, said Sprint Cellular Vice President Kevin Beebe. The network tracks the customer’s location using Bell Atlantic’s advanced intelligent network in Pittsburgh. The data base provides that information to the Sprint switch for efficient call routing.

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