Weï¿½ve all seen the ï¿½10-10-220ï¿½ commercials as well as several other
long-distance 10-10-XXX access codes. Weï¿½ve also all used a calling card at
one point or another. In fact, itï¿½s amazing how today we have so many
options for connecting a phone call when just 10 or 15 years ago there
werenï¿½t nearly as many choices.
But with such a dizzying array of choices, itï¿½s nearly impossible to
figure out which is the cheapest calling card, or access code in any given
situation. Often there are additional prompts for choices of language, and
whether the call is domestic or international. Not only that, but keying in
37 digits or more is just too inconvenient for most users, so many users
stick with direct dialing even though it usually costs more.
Well, we were pleased to learn about the Zoom Dialer device that simply
connects to your phone line and provides ï¿½Store and Forward Least Cost
Routing (LCR)ï¿½ capabilities. The dialer automates this process by allowing
the customer to simply dial the 11-digit phone number they wish to reach.
The dialer stores the user-dialed number and then automatically dials the
800 number, waits and listens for a voice prompt, then dials the PIN number.
Lastly, the dialer forwards the user dialed number. By taking advantage of
their ï¿½store and forwardï¿½ capabilities, the dialer can perform least cost
routing as programmed by the operator of the software.
The dialer can contain up to 350 lines of routing tables. A simple
routing algorithm would be: If you dial ï¿½1ï¿½, except 1-800 it goes to the
calling/debit card network. Also, if you dial ï¿½011ï¿½, it goes to the 101xxxx
network. However, if you dial ï¿½0ï¿½ or ï¿½00ï¿½, it goes straight to the LEC and
not to the network. You can even set up routing rules to exclude local
numbers from dialing into the network. The routing rules support up to six
different carriers with LCR capabilities. For example, you can define one
carrier account to be used for domestic, another one for South America,
another one for long-distance national, etc.
Zoom makes three dialers (Dialer 24, Dialer 26, and Dialer 34) with the
difference being in how they are programmed. The Dialer 24 is remotely
programmable by the network provider via Zoomï¿½s software. The customer can
make only minor adjustments to the program such as DTMF tone volume and DTMF
tone length. Although the Zoom Dialer 26 is not remotely programmable via
software, it doesnï¿½t take rocket science. You simply plug it in, enter your
phone card, and it learns your phone card automatically. Finally, the Zoom
Dialer 34 works a bit differently in that it is preprogrammed at the factory
to be used with only one network provider. There is no software available to
the network provider. The only changeable feature is the PIN and the network
access number. Each time the customer runs out of time, they need to buy a
new card from the same provider and then using the phone keypad program the
new PIN number into the dialer. We should mention that with all the Dialers,
after learning your account information, on subsequent calls, it shaves off
dialing times dramatically since the dialer sends DTMF digits in rapid
succession (similar to a modem dialing an ISP).
The Dialer uses voice detection when the network answers to determine
when to transmit the stored DTMF digits. Once the network answers,
everything is standard timing after that. We should point out that when we
dialed, the dialer then dials the carrier access code, pauses for six
seconds and then begins to listen for voice detection. The pause is because
if we said something into the phone, the dialerï¿½s voice detection would pick
In any event, we got a Dialer 24 to review and had Zoom pre-program a
phone card for us for testing. Once the carrier had been dialed, and the
dialer heard the voice, it paused for two seconds, and for this phone card
it dialed DTMF ï¿½1ï¿½ for English. It then waited two seconds before dialing
the PIN. It then paused two seconds and stripped out the leading ï¿½1ï¿½ since
the carrier network doesnï¿½t want the ï¿½1.ï¿½ The Zoom dialer then sends the
DTMF digits of the user dialed number.
One important item to mention is that all the * features work, such as
*82, *69 (call back missed number), etc. Another important feature is that
the Dialer 26 features a two-digit access code, which can be assigned to
each member in the household, so that each can have their own phone card.
This is useful for parents looking to manage phone costs for their teenage
sons and daughters as well as preventing one sibling from using up the phone
card time of another sibling. One other feature of note is that the dialer
can also work with fax machines simply by pressing ï¿½***ï¿½ to work around the
PROGRAMMING THE DIALER
When programming the Dialer 24, you simply dial into the dialer using Zoomï¿½s
provided software, which costs around $200. You can use any TAPI modem for
single port upgrading or you can use Dialogic cards to
download/change/configure up to four dialers at a time. Three scenarios can
occur when the software attempts to download a program into a dialer in the
1. Customer answers -- The software plays a .WAV file prompting
the user if they wish to accept the download now.
2. No Answer -- 10 rings dialer answers and automatically updates.
3. Some other device answers (answering machine, modem, fax machine)
-- e.g., we called our dialer and on the seventh ring, our alarm system
answered (connected to same phone line). The software hears that and calls a
second time and rings the line just once. And then they call back a third
time within one minute and the dialer picks up on the first ring to perform
The Dialer 34 comes completely programmed to work with a specific network
right from the factory, no software needed. The only changeable setting is
the PIN number. Each time a customer buys a new card (of the same brand)
they go home and simply enter *1<new pin>## and itï¿½s ready to go to work
So Where Do I Install This?
We should point out that one of the most popular phones in the home is the
kitchen phone which is wall mounted. So how do you mount a dialer behind a
wall mount phone? Well with Zoom Dialer, you donï¿½t have to. You can plug it
into a different phone in the house and it will work from every phone in
your home. According to Zoom, all of their competitors require a separate
dialer for each phone.
So How Does It Work?
Essentially, the Zoom dialer puts a half short across the tip and ring
voltage. This is not enough to screw up the CO, but enough to block the CO
from hearing the user dialed numbers, which the dialer needs to intercept,
store, and then transmit later on. Zoom calls this their ï¿½parallel
processingï¿½ technology, which they have a patent on.
The carriers will love the fact that they now have a little computer in
every one of their customerï¿½s homes. Very importantly, they can change their
customerï¿½s routing tables without even talking to them. As local access
numbers are added or changed, they can use Zoomï¿½s software to make
modifications. For instance, suppose a new local access number is added to
Miami, Florida. You want to remove the ï¿½800 numberï¿½ from your Miami
customers so you donï¿½t incur the costs of the 800 number call. You can
simply use Zoomï¿½s software to search for those 1,000 customers and just
change the routing tables for the Miami customers to dial the local Miami
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Weï¿½d like the ability to program the billing rates into the unit for each
carrier to improve the least cost routing capabilities. For instance, assume
carrier A charges $1.00 for the first minute and then $0.05 per minute after
that. However, another carrier charges a flat-rate $0.10 per minute from the
first minute. Although carrier A has a lower per minute charge, it takes 10
minutes of phone usage on carrier B just to equal carrier Aï¿½s initial $1.00
minute charge. In fact, it isnï¿½t until the 20 minute mark that the cost of
carrier B catches up to the same cost of carrier A and itï¿½s not until the 21
minute mark that carrier B actually become more expensive. Thus, for 20
minutes or less, carrier B is actually less expensive even with a higher per
Now, even with these billing rates programmed, the dialer would have no
idea how long you plan on being on the phone, so to improve the least cost
routing calculation, perhaps you could optionally prefix or postfix a number
to the dialed number to indicate how long you plan on being on the call,
such as ï¿½1ï¿½ for a quick phone call, ï¿½2ï¿½ for medium length, and ï¿½3ï¿½ for a
We think itï¿½s pretty amazing how phone card businesses donï¿½t care about
losing a customer. Once they gain a customer via a calling card, the
customers eventually burn through their calling card, throw it out, and then
just buy another card from somebody else. Well with the Zoom product,
carriers can ï¿½lockï¿½ their customer into their service so they can use it
over and over again. Zoomï¿½s four-line dialer might just be the ticket to
selling prepaid phone service to business customers.
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