One number Featured

6:37am EDT April 2, 2003
Multiple contact numbers for one person are commonplace, with separate numbers for the office, cell phone, pager, home office and fax machine.

Some business cards have as many numbers as a suburban phone book making any call a crapshoot as to whether you actually reach the person intended.

OnlyOne, a Cleveland-based telecom company, can help eliminate the phone number roulette game.

"What OnlyOne service does is simplify everything into a single number," says Warren Carter, one of the founders of the company. "It knows the other numbers the person has, and appropriately routes the call to the person depending on where they are at the moment."

Another feature is that all calls are consolidated into a single voicemail box -- no more checking the office, cell phone and at home for messages.

An OnlyOne number can also reduce your cell phone usage, because many people pick that number to try first, figuring it's the one most likely to reach you.

"It can control access to someone's cell phone, because it can route calls to your office number first," says Bill Kirk, president of OnlyOne's Akron region. "If you're in, you can take it on the landline. If not, then it gets routed to your cell phone."

Carter says his cell phone bill dropped by two-thirds after activating the service for himself.

Privacy is also an advantage. You may want clients to be able to reach you at home when needed, but maybe not all the time. With an OnlyOne number, your other numbers stay private, and you can change where your calls are routed at anytime. It also frees you to change office, home or cell numbers at any time, because all your clients ever need is the OnlyOne number. You can reprogram the other numbers whenever you want.

The service also offers opportunities from the employer's side.

"If an employee used their personal cell phone number and leaves the company, the customers go with that phone," says Bob Bleck, also a founder of OnlyOne. "If an OnlyOne number is purchased by the employer for the employee, it puts the employer in charge."If an employee leaves, the employer would simply change the underlying numbers that route calls, changing from the ex-employee's personal cell phone to the sales manager's or the replacement's phone, for instance.

Users will also know who's calling, because OnlyOne prompts for the caller to state their name before searching for the user. If the user doesn't want to talk to the person, then a press of a button drops the call into voicemail. The OnlyOne service costs $19.95 per month with no contract to sign. Local calls are included in the cost, but long distance incurs extra charges. The service also recognized fax calls and can route them to a fax machine or your e-mail in-box.