BOSTON - Beginning Tuesday, Verizon residential and small business customers in Eastern Massachusetts who are on the phone can have incoming second calls announced by name, not just beep tones.
With Talking Call Waiting, a computerized voice announces the name of the customer whose line is being used to place an incoming call. Only the customer being called will first hear a tone and then the voice. To sample the Talking Call Waiting message, click on the options below:
"Talking Call Waiting is another tool our customers can use to manage their calls, their time and their lives," said Debra Swann, vice president of voice products for Verizon. "Like Caller ID and Call Waiting ID, it takes the mystery out of using the phone.
"With Talking Call Waiting, customers can decide who they'll talk to and when, letting them decide between business calls and social calls, urgent calls or leisure calls, customer calls or supplier calls," she said. "Having the network announce the caller relieves them of having to use a phone with the Call Waiting ID display, if they have that call management feature."
Talking Call Waiting costs $5.34 per month for residential customers and $7.90 per month for small business customers. The price includes basic Call Waiting service.
With today's computerized network, calling party information is used to set up calls. That information also can be used by the network to enable features like Caller ID, *69 and Call Trace. Talking Call Waiting operates along with Verizon's regular Call Waiting Service using Lucent Technologies' Compact Service Node hardware and software. With the new service, the 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 called subscribers only, along with the initial Call Waiting Tone. Subscribers can decide whether or not to interrupt the current call to take the incoming call.
According to Swann, the new service will also be of value to customers who are visually or mobility impaired who can now rely on the network to tell them who's calling when they're already on the line. Talking Call Waiting does not require any additional equipment, but works with any telephone.
Verizon offers 20 call management services, ranging from Call Waiting and Call Forwarding to feature-rich Home Voice Mail services and a Caller ID service that displays a caller's number on the TV screen when you subscribe to satellite TV programming from Verizon.
Two additional services are scheduled for debut in Verizon's Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states this year. Call Intercept blocks all calls from phone numbers that are not passed through to called parties and 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, the network will use a distinctive ring to alert the customer and display message on a 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.
Another service, Internet Call Manager, will be used by Web surfers who use an active phone line to connect to the Internet. If a call comes in while they are online, the call will be announced on the screen with a Caller ID-like display and the customer will be able to decide to end the Web session and take the call or forward it to another line or a wireless phone, read one of several messages to the caller, or send it to Home Voice Mail so the customer can keep surfing.
Current product descriptions and on-line service ordering tools are available at www.verizon.com. Customers with disabilities should visit the "Accessability" pages, also available under Residential Services section of the Home and Family services pages at the site.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, 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 more than 100 million access line equivalents and 25.6 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 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.