Monday, December 15, 2008

What is a Cloned Phone Line?

Phone Power is offering something called a "cloned 2nd line" free with their 12 month prepay VoIP service plan. The plan is a quite a good deal in itself, offering virtually unlimited outgoing minutes to the the U.S. and Canada and a free second year of service for $199.95. But the idea of getting a 2nd line as well is certainly intriguing. Is that what this is? A second phone line? If so, why is it called cloned?

According to the Phone Power Knowledge Base, cloning your phone line gives you almost 2 lines for the price of one. This feature takes advantage of the fact that the telephone interface adaptor that connects your phone to your broadband modem or router has two RJ-11 telephone jacks. It's left to the service provider what, if anything, to do with that second jack. Phone Power uses it to allow multiple simultaneous calls through your VoIP service even though you have only a single telephone number.

The way it works is that you plug two separate phones, or two lines from a multi-line telephone set, into the adaptor unit. Phone Power provides you with a Grandstream HT502 on free lease with your service. This device has the two phone jacks as well as a LAN port and WAN connection to your broadband service. Pick up either phone and you hear dial tone. You can call out on either phone or both at the same time. It's just like having two phone lines.

What's different about the cloned line approach is that when you receive a call, both phones will ring. After all, you still have only the one phone number. If one phone is in use when the call comes in, the unused phone will ring and the phone in use will get a call waiting notification. If both phones are in use when another call comes in, they'll both get a call waiting notification.

In addition to sharing a single phone number, both phones also share the same voice mail. So it isn't quite like having a completely separate line. But, hey, the price is right. It's free. Seems like this is a great solution for families who have certain members who love to hog the phone. With the "clone your line" feature, you'll still be able to make and receive calls even with one phone tied up.

If this sounds like the kind of phone service that would work really well at your house, check out the 12 month prepay residential service plan from Phone Power. Business plans let you order multi-line solutions up with up to 20 extensions, so line hogging isn't such a problem.

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