Bill (see prior message) asks about the nature of 'telephone extenders'.
Actually, they are more correctly called 'WATS extenders', since their main
purpose is generally to permit the use of an outgoing WATS line by someone
calling in on another line.
Let's say you are an outside sales rep for some company, or an executive
who travels a lot in the course of your business. You need to make many
long distance calls, and making them by putting coins in a phone or by
charging each call to a calling card or third number gets expensive. You
certainly wouldn't call collect to your customer either! :)
The thinking is that the cost of an incoming call via an 800 'toll free'
line added to the cost of an outgoing call via the company's WATS lines
is still less expensive than a directly routed call on which a surcharge
for calling card or coin collection is imposed.
The tone your friend is hearing when he dials the 800 number is most likely
the internal dial tone for the phone system at the company he is reaching.
In all probability, an access code, or password is required at this point
to go further. Once the proper password has been entered, the caller is
given use of the company's phone system remotely, the same as if he were
in an office at the company using an actual extension phone. He *is* on
an extension of the company's phone system actually, since the incoming
line is answered and electronically connected to an extension at the company.
After entering the appropriate password, the caller can then proceed to
dial an outgoing call as if he were calling from his office. He would enter
whatever access code is required to get an outside line, then dial the
desired number. Although there are now two links in the connection instead
of just one, had he dialed direct to the other party, the line degradation
is not usually too bad. Both parties can hear each other and talk okay.
When he is finished with his call, he will press a touch tone button on the
phone, typically the octothorpe (#), to tell the 'WATS extender' that
the outgoing line can now be disconnected. The company's internal dial tone
will return to the line, and he can place other calls or he can simply
hang up if he is finished with his calls.
The use of these devices by persons not authorized to make calls through
the connecting phone system is considered fraud. The company which owns
the device can prosecute you, and generally the phone company is more than
willing to assist in the prosecution.
Here at [TELECOM Digest] we talk about anything and everything related to
telephone systems and communications with a couple of exceptions: We don't
print passwords/authorization codes; nor do I print telephone numbers which
could concievably be used by someone reading the message who has less than
honorable intentions. I'm sure you understand. :)