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Why 0870 virtual switchboards are free in the UK

Not so many years ago every business had to purchase, install and maintain a private switchboard. As a businesses grew and relocated it incurred the cost of buying and installing an upgraded switchboard.

Then back in the early nineties, the manufacturers of exchange switches started making them intelligent by adding the functionality of a private switchboard – music-on-hold, call queuing and voicemail as well as planned routing. As the years have gone by the cost of these intelligent switches has come down. As a consequence more and more companies prefer to rent a virtual switchboard rather than incur the costs of owning, upgrading and maintaining their own equipment.

In the UK, another development has made it possible to offer a virtual switchboard at no cost to the end user. This became possible a decade ago when British Telecom introduced numbers that were charged at the national rate and could be routed to any land line destination number. The added twist was that users of these numbers received a portion of the call revenenue. This enabled telephone services companies to offer virtual switchboard services to end users at no cost with the actual cost being met by the call rebates.

Now no business in the UK had any excuse not to offer callers efficient call handling because the whole panoply of functionality including music-on-hold, call queuing, announcement of queue position to the caller, ability to route calls to several offices and voicemail, where all available at no cost. This was especially good news for the ever increasing army of homeworkers.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs is set to end due to the behaviour of many of the country’s leading businesses who have abused their position. What has happened is that many large service companies in the business of insurance, holidays, air travel, utility provision and so on have been accused of keeping customers on hold for anything up to 40 minutes. The result is that Ofcom, the UK regulatory authority, has ruled that the cost of calling special numbers will be reduced and the rebate removed with effect from the beginning of 2008.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped huge numbers of small businesses from enjoying the benefits of virtual switchboards. And even when the rebate ends, the cost of renting a virtual switchboard will be only a few pounds a month. Far less than the traditional alternative.

About the Author: Author Michael Soliatis writes about telecom issues and offers essential free 0870 virtual switchboard information and a free 0870 virtual switchboard service.

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