One-number calling rings up Portland
New US West service will route calls from home or office phone to portable
Wire and staff reports
PORTLAND -- Your incoming telephone calls at home or the office willreach you on the road under the new Access2 service introduced Tuesday inthe greater Portland area by US West.
Portland will be the second U.S. market to get the service, which USWest said is the first to fully integrate wireless and traditional telephonetechnologies.
This is one-of-a-kind, said Peter Mannetti, president ofUS West Wireless Communications.
Customers will be able to use existing home or office telephone numbersfor their Personal Communications System (PCS) or cellular phones. Callsto their home or office will automatically be routed to their portable phonesonce they are turned on.
Gary Miller, US West regional manager in Medford, said Wednesday thatit would be two to three years before the service was rolled out in JacksonCounty.
It's going to be expanding but I don't know on what schedule,Miller said. We definitely want to pursue this throughout the wholestate. We have licenses to offer this in all 36 counties.
Some of the features of the new service are now available in Medfordthrough Rogue Communications, a local company, which offers customers anywherein Jackson County an extra Medford phone number. The number, by pre-arrangement,can put calls through to any number in the valley, whether land line orcellular.
Paul Ryan, of Rogue Communications, says he can provide his customerssame-day service when they call to change the phone that their extra phonenumber rings to. Although the company doesn't yet offer the seamless transitionfrom cellular to land-line service that US West now provides in Portland,Salem and Vancouver, Wash., Ryan says that's a possibility down the road.
US West's Access2 service includes optional voice mail for multiple locations,pager notification and a single bill for all services.
US West's sales pitch will emphasize the simplicity and convenience ofthe service, but it's also a competitive move.
It locks the user into subscribing to all the services from a singleprovider, said George David, executive editor of North American TelecommunicationsNewswatch, an industry newsletter.
David said he is unaware of any other citywide phone services now beingmarketed that use intelligent links.
Intelligent links among networks means that phone calls maybe routed either through land-based telephone wire or through wireless,or cellular, networks.
Companies such as VoiceStream and Spring sell the higher-frequency PCSwireless service, but nobody else offers a bundled package of services likeU S West's.
Manetti said U S West will price its service in Portland the same wayit does in Denver, where it introduced the service seven weeks ago. Thephones cost $199 or $249, depending on the type chosen.
Airtime options generally include an initial number of free minutes eachmonth, with additional minutes ranging from 20 cents to 30 cents, dependingon the plan.
Roaming fees will be added when customers are outside the Portland orDenver areas. In addition, customers can pay an additional monthly fee toadd such features as voice messaging and toll blocking.
Such add-ons are a way for phone companies to add intelligent featuresat a price that helps offset the expense of building the technology, Davidsaid.
The approach to simplify phone service makes sense, David said, becausemany Americans have at least two phone numbers where they can be reached.Many have more.
I don't think people are clamoring for this, but it will slowly,surely become more popular, David said. I think there will bebroad acceptance when the price gets to the right point.
After Denver and Portland, U S West said it will launch the one-numberservice in its other Western markets, including Salt Lake City and Phoenix.