Home Phone Features Tips

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What is Speed Dialing?

Speed Dialing - When You Need to Call a Number Quickly

Many home phone services offer speed dialing as an optional feature. Residential users can speed dial from eight to 30 phone numbers.

Speed dialing allows you to dial these numbers by pressing one or two keys on your phone - saving the time to dial or look up a number. It also prevents time lost due to dialing errors.

For residential services, this feature would be useful for adding an office number for each spouse, friends and relatives, and service personnel, such as a gardener or housekeeper.

If you are like many and have trouble memorizing phone numbers, this would be a great time-saving feature for you.

   
How Do I Screen Unwanted Calls?

Call Screening - Stop Unwanted Calls

Call screening can be as simple as watching your caller ID and picking up only the calls you want. With newer technology, it can also be through the use of a sophisticated new feature offered by most service providers.

A feature available for residential subscribers offered by many phone companies, including AT&T, is call screen. Also called call block, it allows you to dial *60 after receiving an unwanted call to make sure that calls from this number are blocked in the future.

You can also press #12 (for AT&T services, other carriers may have a different method) and enter up to 10 numbers that you pre-select as blocked numbers.

If you receive harassing phone calls, this is one way to stop them. This is also a good way to stop telemarketers from reaching you.

Callers receive a polite, yet firm message telling them that you are not receiving calls from this number.

Some service providers have made this feature part of a comprehensive privacy package.

   
What is Call Block?

Call Block: When You Really Don't Want Telemarketer Calls

Another way to prevent calls from those pesky telemarketers is to add a feature called call block. Call block allows you to either enter a code after receiving an unwanted call that blocks that number in the future or to select up to a certain number of callers whose numbers are to be blocked.

This feature is useful if you have a caller who is harassing you or a frequent telemarketing call that you no longer want to receive.

The callers on the other end receive a polite, but firm message telling them that you are not receiving calls from their number.

This can be a great time and hassle saver, and is available from most phone services at a slight additional charge.

   
What is Anonymous Call Rejection?

Anonymous Call Rejection for Greater Privacy

Today's consumers have simply had it with calls by telemarketers. No, we do not need any more magazines, travel club memberships or sweepstakes entries!

Anonymous call rejection helps avoid these types of calls by screening out anyone who calls you without a caller ID.

If you choose this feature, make sure that none of your friends have opted to have a number without caller ID, as their calls will also be screened out.

If you have a traditional landline phone, anonymous call rejection can be activated by dialing *77, and disabled by dialing *87. Many phone services include this feature free if you subscribe to caller ID and some allow you to purchase it separately if you don't subscribe to caller ID.

Anonymous call rejection is not available to some customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. It is also important to note that anonymous call rejection does not block out out-of-area or unknown numbers.

   
What is Call Waiting?

Call Waiting: One of the Most Used Features of All

One of the first telephone features to be added was call waiting, which allows another call to be accessed while an active one is placed on hold.

In North America, phone subscribers are notified that they have a call waiting by a beep every ten seconds. The subscriber can then choose to hang up the first call and take the second or tell the first caller to hold while asking the second to call back when the first call is finished. For many, this service made the use of a second line unnecessary resulting in a net cost savings.

Call waiting can be a problem if you have dial-up Internet services as it causes the Internet connection to be dropped. Dialing *70 before connecting to the Internet will disable call waiting or you can subscribe to an Internet call waiting service.

   
What is Caller ID?

Caller ID - Know Who is Calling Before You Pick Up

A feature most of us can't live without is caller ID. Caller ID shows who is calling, which comes in handy when you are very busy and just don't have time to talk to your long-winded Aunt Ethel.

Caller ID, often referred to as CID or CNID, is part of the intelligent network for traditional telephone companies and is carried in the packet headers for VoIP services.

Caller ID is still not available in many areas when receiving or making an international call, however, this is rapidly changing.

   
What is Call Return?

Call Return: Great for Busy People

Call return is a very popular feature that allows you to automatically dial the phone number of the last person who called you. On most phones, this information is retrieved by dialing *69.

This is a great feature if you are always running from somewhere to grab a call that you just missed. It also comes in handy if you were expecting a call that you missed and just don't want to take the time to look up the number.

It doesn't work on calls that are marked private, but does work with long distance calls. Be aware that you will be charged a long distance rate for the returned call. If the line is busy when you try to use call return, the service will continue calling it for you for 30 minutes and will notify you with a distinctive ring when the call goes through.

For most phone services, if you want to cancel call return, simply enter *89.

Call return is typically included with most features packages, but can be purchased separately from some carriers.

   
When is Call Forwarding Necessary?

Call Forwarding - When is it Necessary?

Call forwarding is a great feature for those who travel frequently or are in and out of their homes on the weekends and don't want to miss critical calls.

Call forwarding allows you to enter a number to have your calls forwarded to if their is no answer or if your line is busy. Some services allow selective call forwarding, which means only certain calls are forwarded so you don't pick up your cell phone for every telemarketer that calls while you are on vacation. Some services also allow you to select if your calls are forwarded on busy, on no answer or automatically.

Call forwarding is a great way to stay in touch while living a busy lifestyle.

If you are at home most of the time or don't get many pressing calls on your home line, call forwarding may not be a feature that is useful for you.

But if you are like most of us and need to stay in touch while out and about, it is invaluable.

   
What is Three-Way Calling and Do You Need It?

Three-Way Calling: Another Useful Feature

In the not-too-distant past, three-way calling was a feature called conferencing and was available mostly for business users at a high cost per call. Now, three-way conferencing is available as a feature from most local service providers for home phone service.

Some of the applications for three-way calling for home service include party or other event planning, business calls taken at home, reunions of friends and coordination of schedules between multiple family members. It saves time by accomplishing in one call what would have normally taken two calls.

To use the three-way calling feature for most services, simply dial the first number, press the switch hook, dial the second number and press the switch hook one last time to connect all parties.

   
Should I Sign Up For Voice Mail or Keep My Answering Machine?

Voicemail Through Your Phone Provider or Answering Machine?

Your old answering machine may be a relic, but you have lived with it for so long that it is hard to part with. Yet, your new phone service provider offers voicemail as part of your new service. Should you set it up or stay with your tried and true old friend?

Phone provider voicemails of today are highly sophisticated. You can dial in from anywhere and check messages and some services even offer email notification, or emails that actually contain the audio message itself.

This notification comes in handy if you are used to looking at a flashing red light and don't check messages unless you see it.

Most older answering machines use a tape to record calls and these can get old and quite unreliable. The newer ones are still easy to bump accidentally, erasing new messages that may have been important.

The only drawback to some phone provider voicemails is that there can be a lag between the time the call was left and your ability to retrieve it from their servers.

In most cases, the convenience and benefits of service provider voicemail outweigh the use of the plain old answering machine.

   
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