Types of Call Forwarding

Overview: Four Types

Updated January 10, 2009
Sam Carpenter

Using our DID or PRI call-routing protocol, the Telco allows our customer to divert (call forward) incoming calls to their office, to our telephone answering service. There are four types of call forwarding, only one of which (Standard Call Forwarding) is manually-controllable by the customer. These four features range in cost (depending on the feature and the telephone company), from $2.00 to $6.00 per month.

Standard or “Variable” Call Forwarding (VCF)

The user dials certain sequences on the dial pad of the phone to either program or deprogram the forwarding at the CO. When the forwarding is active, the customer, within their office, will hear a short “reminder” ring each time a call is diverted to our service. However, the client will be unable to actually answer a call as the call has already been routed to our telephone answering service.

Initially, as with the other three types of call forwarding, customers must call the phone company and request the feature. However, the difference from the others is this: Variable call forwarding can be programmed on or off by the customer at any time he or she chooses. The other three forwarding features are active all the time.

  • Customer pluses: user programmable; no confusion – calls go either to the customer’s office or to the service; calls to the service can be answered on the first ring; an unlimited number of simultaneous calls can be routed at one time; VCF can be used in conjunction with CFDA (see below). VCF will override CFDA.
  • Customer negative/positive: customer must program and deprogram manually. This takes time but also gives the customer total control of call routing.
  • Centratel pluses: In contrast to CFDA, TSRs can answer calls on first ring.
  • Centratel negatives: customers get confused with process: New staff in the client’s office are not trained properly in how to forward phones; clients forget to forward phones, etc.

Call Forward/Don’t Answer (CFDA)

Calls are transferred to us after a pre-determined number of rings at the customer’s office. Once set up with t he phone company, CFDA, like CFB and MEL, is operational 100% of the time.

  • Customer pluses: no manual forwarding necessary; client can answer calls before they ring the fourth time; can be used in conjunction with VCF (which overrides CFDA.) An unlimited number of simultaneous calls can be routed at one time
  • Customer negatives: can’t control on or off ; caller often hears four to five rings before service can pick the call, resulting in hang-ups and over-rings; can be some confusion as calls can be taken by customer or by service, 24/7. For example, it is often not practical for offices where staff answers calls through the day.
  • Centratel pluses: simple and no opportunity for client forwarding errors.
  • Centratel negatives: over-ring complaints; – we can’t possibly answer the incoming call in less than four rings; can be coordination problems with Telco when switching from previous telephone answering service provider to Centratel (be careful here!).

Call Forward Busy (CFB)

If the line is busy, the next incoming call is forwarded to the telephone answering service. Always combined with CFDA and only on the last line in a hunt group. This feature will not work with call-waiting options. As with CFDA and MEL’s, once initially set up with the phone company, CFB is operational 100% of the time.

  • Customer pluses: caller hears no busy signals when all lines to the client’s office are busy. An unlimited number of simultaneous calls can be routed at one time.
  • Customer negatives: can’t control whether the feature is on or off – it is always on.
  • Centratel pluses: customer will not complain of busy signals.
  • Centratel negatives: Can be coordination problems with Telco when switching from old service to Centratel (be careful here!).

Market Expansion Line (MEL)

Also called Remote Call Forwarding (RCF). The customer’s published number does not physically terminate at their premise. Every call that is made to the customer’s number is re-routed at the CO and sent directly to the telephone answering service’s designated DID number for that particular account. There is no physical telephone associated with the MEL number itself – calls are routed from the MEL number to another number owned by the customer, or, to a Centratel DID. As with CFDA and CFB, once the feature is initially set up with the phone company, a Market Expansion Line is operational 100% of the time.

  • Customer pluses: customer owns number and can distribute and advertise the number while having the option of someday removing the RCF feature and answering the number at the location of their choice; inexpensive compared to regular business line; cost to customer is $16/mo plus $0.03 per minute; can re-route calls to anyplace.
  • Customer negatives: only one call at a time can be routed to service unless customer orders extra talk-paths (additional calls get a busy signal, the cost is $16 per month each additional talk-path); can’t control on or off -it’s always on.
  • Centratel pluses: service gets all calls; no confusion.
  • Centratel negatives: none.