Bell show reaches out, touches future


March 11, 1992|By Leslie Cauley | Leslie Cauley,Staff Writer

It's called "lifestyle telephony," and it reads like this: Find technologies that can make the phone network do whatever you want, whenever you want.

Need help with overflow faxes? Let the phone network handle it. Need to remotely adjust your home heating? No problem. Call your home phone and program it in. Want your children to spend more time on homework and less time gabbing? Get the network to remind teen-age callers that evening hours are homework hours.

"We call this lifestyle telephony," said Mark Emery, director of new products for Bell Atlantic Corp. "It's making the phone match how you want to use it."

That was the message yesterday at "WAVE '92," the biennial communications show at the Baltimore Convention Center. The three-day show, sponsored by Bell Atlantic, featured hundreds of communication technologies from more than 300 vendors worldwide. The show runs through tomorrow.

Displays included an office of the future, a home of the future and business services of the not-so-distant future, all from Bell Atlantic, parent company of Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.

In the not-so-distant category is a business service that will allow employees in offices in different cities to reach each other by dialing a four-digit extension as if both employees were in the same building.

That isn't possible now, but Bell Atlantic plans to introduce this summer a service to allow businesses to set up their phone banks so any employee can be reached by dialing a four-digit extension.

At the heart of the new technology is the "advanced intelligent network," a system that marries telephone equipment to advanced computer software.

Other services in the offing are:

* Switch Redirect, which allows businesses to reroute phone calls automatically from one number to another. In the case of an emergency, for example, a business could use switch redirect to send calls to another location temporarily.

* A "portable" phone number for customers, which is under development. That service would assign customers one number that the network could use to deliver calls, no matter where the customer might be -- at home, in the office, using a cellular phone in a car or sitting in a restaurant with a portable phone.

* Call Management, which could be used for blocking calls to and from home phones. Market testing of that service will begin this fall.

Although not part of the new network, a family of new fax services introduced yesterday by Bell Atlantic adhered to the idea of lifestyle telephony. The services -- Fax Overflow, Fax Mailbox and Fax Broadcast -- use the local phone network to store and forward faxed information.

Fax Overflow accepts faxes for businesses, forwarding messages as soon as the line is free. Fax Mailbox sets up an electronic mailbox that can receive faxes when people are away. Users can be notified on a pager or voice mailbox when a fax awaits.

Fax Broadcast allows businesses to send the same fax simultaneously to different locations.

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