Introduction To Line Telecommunications


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9. Simple Telephone Devices
  9. - Simple Telephone Devices 9.4 - Modems
  9.1 - Telephone Answering Machines 9.5 - Voicemail Systems
  9.2 - Cordless Telephones 9.6 - Specialist Devices
9.3 - Facsimile Machines

9.5 - Voicemail Systems

Voicemail systems are, in effect. more sophisticated answering machines. They can simultaneously handle as many lines as they have ‘ports’ or connections to the outside world. They are usually supplied with 2 ports and can be upgraded with further ports as the need arises.

Users are assigned a personal area or ‘mailbox’ where their messages are held for later retrieval. They can record their own greeting for callers to lend a personal touch.
Voicemail systems are normally able to operate in two modes, Voicemail or Auto Attendant.

9.5.1 - Voicemail

Voicemail will answer incoming calls, play a pertinent message requesting a user mailbox number or menu response to be dialled by the caller in DTMF. The response is recorded and used to route the call to a specific mailbox where a message can be left for the user concerned.

Although they have a small number of ports a Voicemail system can have several hundreds of users each with their own mailbox.

If the system to which the Voicemail is connected is sophisticated enough it can automatically supply the user mailbox information and the first message heard by the caller would be the personalised greeting for the person they are calling.

Voicemail can be used as front line answering system handling all calls and taking messages or as a fallback from an operator, coming into use as the system gets busy with traffic or the required person is unable to take calls directly.

9.5.2 - Automated Attendant

An Automated Attendant is a front-line answering system which will answer calls and ask the caller to dial an extension number or selection form a menu in DTMF. It will then use this to route the call directly to the required person or department and transfer the call thus releasing the automated attendant ready to take the next call.

9.5.3 - Types Of Features

Most Voicemail systems can be set up to operate with some ports as Voicemail and some as Automated Attendant.

A combined Voicemail / Automated Attendant system will not only accept calls and take messages it will also allow the users to perform more complex message handling functions. Each system by different manufacturers will have its own set of facilities, the more common of which are:

Message Lamp / Tone To notify the user at their extension that new messages are waiting for retrieval.
Message Broadcast A single message can be copied to a range of mailboxes for announcements and internal
notification of staff.
Message Transfer A message can be copied to the mailbox of another user who can more effectively action it.
Remote Access Users can call into the system from outside and retrieve messages without being in the office.
Most mailbox functions are available for remote access and should be password protected
wherever possible.
Message Delivery When new messages have been recorded the system will call and external telephone number and
deliver the messages either immediately or at a set time.

9.5.4 - Unified Messaging Systems

A unified messaging system (UMS) is a development of the voicemail system. It provides the same types of features as the voicemail and adds new facilities and delivery options, which were not possible before the linking of computer and telephony systems.

As well as accepting messages for users the UMS will convert them to sound files that can be played back on a multimedia PC and send them as an email to the recipient via an interconnected computer network mailserver (a dedicated email handling computer).

It may also allow reception of faxes, which it can also convert to email and send to the intended recipient directly.

Users then need only a multimedia PC and their email software to see and handle their voicemail, email and faxes - in some cases they may not even know how to use the voicemail system except via the email type interface. The UMS may even be located at different company office. Messages and faxes can then be copied, forwarded and in some highly integrated systems replied to from the PC.

Current developments are moving towards converting email to speech so they can be retrieved by telephone when users are away from the office and allowing internet access to the mailserver and hence the voice and fax messages as well as the emails.




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Extracted from

Introduction To Line Telecommunications
Copyright Panasonic Business Systems UK Ltd 2000