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October 17, 2008

Follow-Me Makes International Calling More Convenient

International Calling

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor


In many vertical industries, and at particular times of year, successfully serving customers and clients requires being able to communicate with people around the world. This is also true in the public sector where, especially during election seasons, it is imperative for candidates, staff and volunteers to be reachable over long distances to one another and to constituents. This might mean face-to-face meetings, or a phone call that reaches halfway across the world.
International calling can be a tricky business, both in terms of the time it takes to successfully connect a call, and in terms of the per-minute cost. Being reachable anytime, anywhere often requires carrying a cell phone, and this can make getting the best rate on calls and ensuring connectivity even more of a challenge.
A long distance service like that offered by Packetel (News - Alert) can be of use to anyone involved in a political campaign, both from a cost perspective and in order to be more accessible. The service offers two main advantages, and a variety of added benefits as well. One benefit is the ability to make low per-minute international calls from any phone, much the same way as using a calling card (but more conveniently, since it is not necessary to dial a PIN).
Second, the follow-me/call forwarding feature that comes with Packetel’s service makes it easier for on-the-go people — whether power business users or a staff persons on a political campaign team — be reachable wherever they go. This feature provides the user with a local U.S. number, which can then be forwarded to any other number.
The old saying that “all politics is local” isn’t quite as true as it used to be, in the sense that today American citizens might very well be overseas during elections, whether because they are traveling or business, or pleasure, or because they serve in the armed forces and are stationed abroad.
Imagine, then, campaign staff and constituents being able to communicate via international calls with a minimum of fuss and cost. This is where Packetel’s service comes in. Say a volunteer makes him or herself available to answer calls from voters about a particular campaign. Some of those voters are overseas, but they are able to call the local U.S. number associated with a particular volunteer, and calls to that number are forwarded to the volunteer’s cell phone, home phone, or even office phone.
This capability is easily enabled by setting the user’s long distance account to “Follow Me” mode using the Web-based account portal. Then, the user simply sets his or her “Follow Me – XPress” number to the number where he/she wants to be reached). It’s that simple.
For those unfamiliar with the terms, “follow-me” and “call forwarding” are essentially the same thing. The first refers to a feature usually associated with private branch exchanges (PBXs), in which incoming calls are routed based on a pre-set list of number associated with the recipient. Calls are routed to each number on the list in turn until it is either answered, and if it is not answered typically the call would then be forwarded to a voicemail system.
Call forwarding refers to a feature of some phone networks, in which an incoming call is redirected to another number, such as a cell phone or home phone. Typically, this forwarding process is seamless, with the caller being unaware where the call ends up.
To learn more about the long distance service calling features and how they can be used, please visit the International Calling channel on, brought to you by Packetel.
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Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae's articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Mae Kowalke


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