By Ralph Willett
I recently had a debate with two managers within a telecom equipment VAR regarding callbacks verses busy tones.
The position these managers took was that no one should ever hear a busy tone. Their solution was to always answer
the call by interrupting their current call or allowing the second call to roll to voice mail. I could agree with
them if we were talking strictly about external callers but in this case we were talking about internal or "on
This is my position regarding busy tones for internal calls:
A busy tone is a piece of information about the person being called: he or she is in the office talking on
The caller wants to talk to you. There's no other reason to call. If they want to leave a message they can
log into voice mail and send you one or use one of the other tools at their disposal such as email or instant
If you let a caller roll to voice mail, depending on the voice mail box set up, the caller still may not
know that you are in the office but busy on another line. There is simply no way to know if you will be
available to return their call.
If the caller hears a busy tone they have the option to use the "camp on" or "call back" features of the
telephone system so that they can be alerted when you are off the phone.
What is a Camp-on?
A Came-on locks a calling party onto busy phone allowing the caller to ring through once the called party is
available. Typically the caller will hear music on hold and the called party will hear a brief alert tone and see
a message on their telephone display to let them know who is waiting. The person being called can answer the call
or simply ignore it until he or she is finished. Once the called party's original call is completed the Camped-on
call automatically begins to ring through to the phone.
What is a Call Back?
A Call Back is another tool to let you know when the person you've called is available. On a Nortel system this
feature is knows as "Ring Again". You use it when you call someone internally or across the voice network and hear
a busy tone or while listening to ringing. The busy tone means they are already engaged in a call. While listening
to the busy tone you press the Call Back button or it may be a single digit such as "1". Your phone will go back
to dial tone and you are now free to make or take other calls. When the person you applied the Call Back feature
to hangs up their phone, your phone begins to ring to alert you they are now available. If you happen to be
engaged in another call the system will wait for both of you to be free and then alert you. When your phone alerts
you, you simply pick up your handset and your call will then ring you through.
How to Program Your Phone to Use Call Back and Camp-on Features
Setting up your telephone so that the Call Back feature can be used is dependent on the manufacture and model
of the business telephone system you use. Typically there may be at least two and possibly three methods of
programming your system. Using a Mitel 3300 PBX as an example, it can be programmed via a web browser in the
programming interface, by entering feature codes on your phone or by using the blue Super key and the telephones
own menu system. In any case, you only forward your phone to voice mail on the Ring No Answer condition. Bear in
mind, the changes being made are applied to the phone being called not the calling extension and it only applies
when internal or on-net calls are being made. Once completed, anyone calling your telephone while you are on your
line will receive a busy tone. The caller can then press the Call Back button or Ring Again button. Once the busy
extension becomes idle, the caller will be alerted that the person being called is now available.
If you're not familiar with programming some of these features on your PBX it is recommended that you engage
your dealer to assist you. If you're not already working with a dealer you can find one in your area at
http://www.aavoicepro.com. Certified dealers and PBX vars
are available to assist you with your telephone system programming as well as software and hardware upgrades.
For More, see the
Mitel Feature Code Listing
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