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Free Second Phone Line?

Is your only phone line tied up while you are reading this article? You are not alone. Millions of Internet users miss calls because they spend time on the Net and don't want to pay for a second phone line.

CallWave has come up with a free, easy to install, and elegant solution. They call it the Internet Answering Machine. If a call comes in while you are online the caller can leave voice mail which you hear through your PC speakers.

This is an advertiser supported service. You run a small program that displays ads while you are online and not receiving a phone call. They have designed the window to be small enough that you can position it over the normally blank area in the upper right of your browser or other application.

So how does this little program interact with your phone line and how does it know when you are online? When you register with CallWave they give you a toll free number. You need to contact your phone company and have them turn on "forward when busy" and use the CallWave number.

When you are online the program interacts with the CallWave servers to let them know you are online. When a call comes in it is forwarded to CallWave. The CallWave system then asks the caller to leave voice mail. The voice mail is recorded as a wav file and downloaded to your computer. You then hear the file played through your speakers. If you want to call them back you need to hang up your Internet session and call.

The only part of this system that may cost you money is having the forward when busy feature activated by your phone company. CallWave indicates that this usually ranges from $0 to $2. That sure beats the price of a second phone line which can cost you $50 - $100 dollars to install and $20 - $25 a month.

The program will store up to 100 messages each of duration up to 20 seconds. The 20 second time was chosen based on regular voice mail statistics where the average message length is less than 20 seconds. They may readjust the time limit if it proves to be too short in practice.

The service which debuted October 5th, 1999 is available in the US, but they are working on a version for outside the US. The software is compatible with Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000. They plan to have Mac version at a later date. CallWave is also well known for their free fax number service called FaxWave. Look for this new service to be very popular and a real money saver for the consumer.

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