NEW YORK - Phone services are getting smarter all the time. Want to know who's calling when you hear that familiar Call Waiting beep? Tired of missing phone calls if you're using the line to connect to the Internet?
No problem. Verizon now offers consumers in New York City two new services, Talking Call Waiting and Internet Call Manager, that can help them manage their phone calls and their time.
And coming soon, another new service -- known as Call Intercept -- will intercept calls from telemarketers and other anonymous callers, so consumers can decide whether to take the call.
"Talking Call Waiting and Internet Call Manager give you more control over your calls, allowing you to decide which calls are important and how to spend your time," said Debra Swann, vice president of voice products for Verizon. "Customers have told us they want that control and the popularity of other services like Caller ID and Call Waiting ID are proof of that need."
With Talking Call Waiting, first there is a tone and then a computerized voice announces the name of the caller to the subscriber who is on another call. This service can be particularly valuable to people who are visually impaired.
Internet Call Manager notifies customers of incoming calls while they are on the Internet using the same phone line. The incoming call is announced on the screen by a pop up window, much like a Caller ID display. The customer can decide to end the Web session and take the call or forward it to another line or a wireless phone, provide one of several messages to the caller, or send the call to Home Voice Mail. Messages to the caller can be delivered in English or Spanish.
"Internet Call Manager is ideal for customers who have only one phone line," Swann said. "It provides so much convenience - you don't have to be interrupted if you're on the Internet, yet you won't miss any call you want to take.
"It will rescue the college student who is torn between surfing the Web for a term paper or waiting for a call from his girlfriend. It'll also be there for the work-at-home mother who may be juggling e-mails while nervously waiting for a caller from her child's teacher," Swann said.
Talking Call Waiting costs $2.50 per month. Subscribers must also have Call Waiting, which is $5.19 for residential customers and $11.68 for for small business customers. Internet Call Manager costs $5.95 a month for residential customers.
A third new service, Call Intercept, is expected to be available to Verizon's New York City customers by mid-year. Call Intercept blocks all calls from phone numbers that appear 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 and hold the line, the customer will hear a distinctive ring and a message will appear on their Caller ID box that a blocked call is waiting.
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.
Here's how these sophisticated calling services are provided using Verizon's advanced telecommunications network:
Talking Call Waiting and Verizon's basic Call Waiting service use Lucent Technologies' hardware and software. With the new service, the caller's name is retrieved from a Verizon database by the network switch and sent in text format to the Lucent service node for text-to-speech conversion. The innovative Lucent technology then speaks the name to the customer being called, along with the initial Call Waiting Tone. Customers can decide whether or not to interrupt their current call to take the incoming call.
Verizon's Internet Call Manager service uses patented technology from InfoInterActive. Each time a customer connects to the Internet, the current Internet address is automatically sent to a "presence node" in the Verizon network. When the customer receives a call while online, the Verizon network requests call handling instructions from the presence node which in turn displays the caller's name and number on the customer's screen and asks for instructions. The call is then routed based on the customer's instructions.
With Internet Call Manager, the caller hears normal ringing and is not aware that the customer is online, and the customer does not need to be present or respond to the request for instructions if they choose, in which case the caller continues to hear ringing or is sent to Home Voice Mail. The presence node also can detect when the Internet address has changed or the customer has disconnected.
Current product descriptions and online service ordering tools are available at www.verizon.com. To sample the Talking Call Waiting message, click on the options below:
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with nearly 109 million access line equivalents and more than 27.5 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the world's largest provider of print and online directory information. A Fortune 10 company with approximately 260,000 employees and more than $63 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.