29 February 2008

Grandly grand, centrally central

My co-worker Jason alerted me to a brand-new telephony beta service,. Thanks Jay-fi! Although I'm not a certified bell-head (which was a term used for the lifers at the phone company when I worked there), I am fascinated by telephony, have done some minor switch programming and follow the industry news. Grand Central is the most intriguing new service to come out in a while - it is very similar to an old offering I remember Ameritech made, which required a special docking station for your cell phone which then allowed you to take advantage of least call routing. (More historical info is available from Wikipedia's Grand Central entry; for a more detailed walkthrough of the tool itself see Consolidate Your Phones with GrandCentral from Lifehacker.) I signed up yesterday, and finished my configurations today. I found the following features to be the neatest:

  1. Clicking the button below will send you to v-mail, which is then available on a web interface for me to play back, forward, post here, or whatever!

  2. I set up a number which will now ring to the multitude of devices myself and my husband own, and I can give that number out to people who need to reach our household, and not any particular one of us (e.g. the PTA, utility company, vet's office, etc.)

  3. I no longer have to scramble to find a particular phone that is ringing; either of my cell phones or my home land line will ring and I can answer it.

  4. I'm screening calls now; if you call and don't have your caller id name id'd, then you'll be asked to record your name before the call is routed to me. Take that, telemmarketers!

  5. I can use a rudimentary economizing methodology for my inbound telephone calls, and answer inbound calls to my cellular number on the land line when it is advantageous for me to do so. I can also check my voice mail on the web, instead of using my cell minutes or incurring a local phone charge to do so.

  6. I'm not using it this way, but if I wanted to provide a convenient local number to a group of friends in a different area code so that they could reach me with a local call to that number.

  7. It is easily reversible - if I don't like the service, I can bail and go back to my old methods easily.

Note to self: I have to check out some old 2600 issues and see what they have to say about this.

Follow up post: Grandcentral


Ejly said...

As a quick follow up, I checked my online mobile bill today to find out how the calls via Grand Central are showing up on my bill and whether they are using my minutes. I'm on a family plan and rely on the mobile-to-mobile in-plan calling to keep my bill at the lowest possible subscription rate. I was pleased to note that calls originating from Line A on my plan to the Grand Central number and answered on Line B are considered part of the mobile to mobile calling. Thus, using grand central will not increase my mobile minutes.