Voice and Fax Broadcasting

Category: Voicemail

Phones are generally considered a means for people to reach you, or for you to call a particular person. Faxes can also be sent and received via phone lines, and they usually are point-to-point transmissions. But voice broadcasting and fax broadcasting are ways to get messages to many people simultaneously via phones. These technologies have good and bad uses...

What is Voice and Fax Broadcasting?

Voice and Fax Broadcasting Voice broadcasting can be used by emergency services, such as police or fire departments, to instantly notify everyone in a given area code or other defined group of a fire, a dangerous fugitive, a missing child, and so on. Weather alerts can be distributed via voicemail broadcasting too. Schools may use voice broadcast to advise parents and students of events, school closures, and other announcements. Political activists also use voice broadcast in some simple, human-driven ways.

Voicemail broadcast is an "unintended feature" of many voicemail services. At the end of a voicemail message you are given the option to forward the message to another number, so that it can be heard by a person who can take action on the message. This is useful when, for example, a sales rep receives a customer inquiry that is best answered by someone in the accounting department. But you can also forward a voicemail message to a group of numbers defined on your phone, and that's simple voicemail broadcasting. It's used to rapidly distribute calls to action among many members of a group.

The leader of a group broadcasts a voicemail message to a handful of first-line lieutenants. Each of them forwards the message to another group, and each member of subsidiary groups forwards to another group, in a geometrically growing "tree" of messaging. This sort of ad hoc voicemail broadcast is essentially free and works fast enough for many purposes.

Then there's the bad kind of voice broadcasting: Spam. Marketers of all kinds buy lists of phone numbers and broadcast "special offers" to them, often without regard for whether anyone has any use for their wares. Cell phone owners are especially irked by voice spam if they are paying for it by the minute. In the U.S., it is illegal to make unsolicited commercial phone calls to cell phones for this very reason. Still, many cell phone owners add their numbers to the national "Do Not Call" registry to put marketers on notice that they don't want special offers.

Fax broadcast is also used for legitimate purposes and for spamming. Fax broadcasting is the same as voice or voicemail broadcast, only the numbers called are fax machine numbers and the machine doing the calling is a fax machine. Fax broadcasts can even be sent from desktop and laptop computers using fax software built into Microsoft Office or a third-party fax management service on the Web.

There are some legitimate uses for fax broadcasting, but again, the recipient is burdened with the cost of receiving and printing a fax, so unsolicited faxes are illegal in many jurisdictions. But that doesn't stop spammers. Do you have something to say about voice or fax broadcasting? Post your comment or question below...

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Posted by Bob Rankin on August 17, 2010 11:10 PM

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Article information: All About Voicemail -- Voice and Fax Broadcasting (Posted: August 17, 2010 11:10 PM)
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- Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved