Bell Atlantic Service Will Unmask Unidentified
Unique Caller ID Screener Provides New Options for
Handling Incoming Calls
March 31, 1999
NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic Caller ID customers soon will have the
option of taking calls only when they know who's calling. Their phones
won't even ring when callers fail to identify themselves.
Custom-designed network technology will intercept all calls from phone
numbers that are blocked -- those that are shown as "private" or
"unavailable" on Caller ID displays. Callers, such as telemarketers, will
have the option to record their name or affiliation or hang up. If they
identify themselves, the network will use a distinctive ring to alert the
customer and display a message on a Caller ID box that a blocked call is
The customer can then listen to the recorded voice and decide whether to
accept the call, send it to voice mail, reject it with a turn-down message or
with the "junk yard dog" option which plays a strong "no solicitations"
message to the caller.
Bell Atlantic's new screening service, due on the market late this summer,
is one of the first screening tools in the industry to allow calls to be
deflected to voice mail. It is also the first that will allow the customer to
provide a "pass code" to callers using a blocked line so they can bypass
the screening service and ring through. This feature will be valuable to a
family member whose business line does not pass on phone numbers to
Caller ID devices or when someone is travelling and uses a network that
does not reveal telephone numbers to Caller ID users. Bell Atlantic also
will be the first to offer caller prompts in Spanish.
"With this new screening service, we'll patch the last crack in our
customers' line of defense against unwanted calls," said Margaret Gardner,
director of call management services for Bell Atlantic. "Any call that is
blocked simply won't get through unless the call is welcome.
vAnd if a call is welcome, but coming from a business line or over a
network that blocks telephone numbers, callers who know the privacy pass
code will be able to bypass the screening service. It's this feature that
really completes the call management picture for our customers."
Bell Atlantic's service will employ the company's Advanced Intelligent
Network (AIN) to provide the screening service. Proprietary service logic,
developed by Bell Atlantic using the AIN platform with an intelligent
peripheral, will provide the options for the Caller ID customer. AIN uses
call processing data to activate special features like Do Not Disturb,
another Bell Atlantic service that defends against unwanted calls.
Bell Atlantic is upgrading its intelligent peripheral to allow voice mail
delivery and pass code functions rather than deploying another platform.
"Taking this approach will delay our market rollout by a few months, but
we think the added features make it worth the wait," Gardner said.
As part of its Customer Care initiative to make all services user-friendly,
Bell Atlantic will offer customers the option of having instructions to
callers delivered in Spanish. Customers will be able to choose English or
Spanish voice prompts for their service when they order it.
"The new screening features will make Caller ID a far more powerful tool
for managing calls," she said. "With many calls appearing as 'private' or
'unavailable,' our Caller ID customers were frustrated. This enhancement
will give them a prompt opportunity to find out who is making those
blocked calls and to deal with them as they see fit -- from a neutral
message that they're not taking calls to a stern anti-solicitation message
that asks that their number be removed from telemarketers' lists."
Adding the option of deflecting the call to voice mail once the caller is
identified offers the choice of finding out what the caller wanted without
taking the call immediately.
"Coupling the Caller ID call management function and our voice mail
service was a natural fit, and the customized system we're installing makes
it all work," Gardner said.
Bell Atlantic's other privacy features offer varying degrees of called-party
controls. In some areas, the company offers Do Not Disturb, another AIN
service, which can be programmed by the customer to block all calls
during specified hours of the day, with the option of directing them to
voice mail, or can be turned on and off at the customer's discretion. With
Do Not Disturb, the customer can program a pre-selected list of phone
numbers that can bypass Do Not Disturb and get through to the customer.
Anonymous Call Rejection turns back all calls where the number is
blocked and tells callers that their call will not go through.
Bell Atlantic plans to install the hardware and software for the new
features with the goal of offering the service late this summer, pending
tariff approval. Neither the name for the service nor the pricing have been
Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With more than 42 million telephone access lines
and 8.6 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies
are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services,
market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of
directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's
largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with
operations and investments in 23 countries.