Here’s a curious one. O2 have just announced the launch of something called ‘Fixed Number Anywhere’ – a service which gives O2 business customers a regular UK geographic (i.e. 01xxx 02xxx) or freephone (0808) number attached to their mobile. The caller dials the number, it rings your mobile, and voila.
But hang on a second, we’ve been able to do this for ages, right? Even back in the dark ages of BT’s ‘star services’ on the then rather shiny and new System X exchanges, there was a call divert feature. Tap in *21*(your mobile number)# and anyone calling your landline would be automatically diverted to your mobile. They pay the call cost to your landline, and you pick up the tab for the divert to your mobile.
Here comes the interesting bit. There’s no divert charges. Not a penny. Admittedly there’s a £10/month service charge (£15/month for the freephone 0808 service), but no per minute costs – about 12p or so according to BT.
O2 – and most other mobile operators – have always claimed it costs them a lot of money to route a voice call over their mobile infrastructure. That’s why they’re quite happy taking an average of 6p a minute from the callers telco to terminate a call to your mobile. UK geographic number termination rates are quite a bit less than a penny a minute. So why the change of heart?
While you ponder that, I’ll tell you a bit more about Fixed Number Anywhere. As mentioned before, its aimed at O2 business customers. You can port your existing BT number or choose a new one, and up to five geo numbers can be linked to the same mobile phone. There’s also a hunt group feature, which allows calls to ring up to ten different O2 mobile numbers simultaneously or on a priority basis.
Simon Devonshire, Head of SME Marketing, O2, comments: “Desk phones were great when business was done from a desk but for the vast majority of small businesses the fixed nature of a landline is at odds with how they operate day to day. By converging a fixed landline number with a mobile service, small businesses can continue to maintain an image of being a local business, which is valued by customers, whilst maintaining the flexibility and mobility that has enabled them to adapt to and thrive in the current climate.”