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Teaching old phones new tricks

Ron Cranford of Medford is a quadriplegic who has started a phone-basedbusiness called Rogue Communictions.

Quadriplegic partner in new business finds way to work with disability

Ron Cranford can't even let his fingers do the walking.

But if the disabled Medford businessman succeeds, he and partner PaulRyan will be teaching a lot of other people's phones new tricks -- withnumbers that not only talk but walk.

Their fledgling Medford company is called Rogue Communications. It'sa high-tech concept backing a simple idea: What if you could have a secondnumber that rang to your phone? What if that single Medford number couldring anywhere in the Rogue Valley?

We're just on the cutting edge today of what a telephone will do,Cranford says. There's just so much new every day. Pretty soon, peoplewon't be using phones in the same way. They'll be using them for so muchmore.

A host of high-tech equipment in their homes allows the two men to managewhat amounts to a mini-phone network.

Ryan, the network's programmer, tackles the technical issues. Cranford,a quadriplegic who was injured in a car wreck five years ago, is the gravellybut gentle voice of Rogue Communications, handling calls and dictating lettersthrough a sophisticated voice-activated phone and computer set-up that doeseverything but lick envelopes.

He says it's been difficult to find work suited to his abilities, becausehe has only limited motion in one arm. The men started the business in January.

Cranford ticks off the uses available today to customers who purchasean extra phone number from Rogue Communications:

An Ashland store might attract Jacksonville customers with a phone numberrequiring only a local call to Medford -- but ringing through to Ashland.

Business people could stop handing out cards with scratched out phonenumbers by listing an extra number that could ring them wherever they moved-- no matter how often.

A woman using a dating service could guard her privacy by using a temporaryphone number and canceling it later.

For these services, Rogue Communications customers pay $2 a month and10 cents per call, Cranford says.

They say there are no local competitors offering such a service, whichRyan says is similar to follow me phone services that have beenspringing up across the country. Those services rely on a single numberto track down a person on the move.

For now, the Rogue Communications service rings through to a single numberand must be reprogrammed manually upon a customer's request. That can bedone in the same day, but could be even quicker down the road. Ryan saysRogue Communications' equipment eventually will allow customers to changetheir own number via a Touch-Tone keypad. Voice-mail is another option theyintend to add.

Potential customers get to try before they buy. Rogue Communicationswill offer one week's service free. The company can be reached at 774-7777.

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Teaching old phones new tricks