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How does call waiting work with a phone system?


This question often comes up when one started out with one phone line with call waiting to handle a second simultaneous call, but now feels the need to handle more phone calls and/or desires a more professional sounding phone system.

Bottom line:
1- Call waiting cannot be handled by a phone system
2- Call waiting and hunting/rollover (more on this below) are mutually exclusive, i.e. you can't have both

If you have a single phone lines connected to a phone system, and a second call comes in on that line, the caller will hear a ring, but that call cannot be answered by the phone system (e.g. by an auto attendant). In some cases, the 'call waiting beep' may still be transmitted through the system to the phone, and you may be able to 'flash over' to it (assuming the phone system doesn't interpret the flash as something else) - but this scenario rarely works and is not recommended.

If you want the second call to be answered and handled by the phone system, you need it to come in on a second phone line. Since you generally want to publish only one main number, this requires a phone company service called hunting or rollover (not expensive - should cost around $1/mo). When the first line is busy, a second call coming in on that number is 'rolled over' to the second line, and now arrives at the phone system on your second line. Now it can be handled like any other incoming call (e.g. auto attendant, ring the operator, etc.).

You can now see why call waiting and rollover are mutually exclusive. The telco can EITHER send a call waiting beep on the first line, OR send the call on a second line, but not both.

If you feel your business is going to continue to grow and you'll need to handle three or more calls at the same time, call waiting is not an option at all, and you must choose rollover.
Neobits, Inc. | email
December 17 2006, 05:59 PM
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