I keep getting queries about “Number masking” while making outbound calls. I find many people have confusion/questions about definition of number masking, caller id etc. So I thought I would try to post about “Number Masking” while making out bound IVR calls or bulk voice calling.
What is “number masking” ?
As the name suggest, “Number Masking” is masking the caller id ( originator ID) of caller to the called part. For example, if my mobile number is “ABC”, and if I call “EFG” number, “EFG” should get caller ID ( CLI ) as “XYZ” instead of my actual number “ABC”. I hope this should be acceptable definition of “Number Masking” or caller ID masking.
Why people seem to ask for “Number Masking”?
Most of the Bulk Voice Outbound Call Service providers in India provide services using PRI lines. Every PRI line has a fixed 10 digit number known as “Pilot Number”. This pilot number is displayed on the called party. Typical caller ID one gets to see for any promotional or marketing ( “Pesky calls” as media likes to call it) starts with +91 140 XXXXXXXX here in India.
Now many BulkVoice Call users want their own mobile number or office numbers to be shown to called party, instead of the the pilot number of the PRI.
Practically speaking, this itself is also a “Number Masking” as called party is seeing a different mobile number while the voice call is about bulk voice call user. In a Click To Cal Service, both parties see PRI pilot number, so practically number masking is happening there too. But that can not be called number masking, as that is bridged call, not a one to one direct call ( yes, technically even a one to one call is a bridged call, where one leg is incoming call and another is outbound call while in Click To Call, both are outbound call from some IVR Server.)
Is number masking is possible ?
Yes, it is very much possible technically. Its very easy to mask numbers while using VOIP services. While using PRI or TDMA lines, it is possible technically, but most of the telecom operators do not allow such number masking.
Few years ago, when VAS (Value Added Service) was at its peak in India, there was a service called, “Dedicate A Song to a friend” where a friend can request a song to be played over phone. In this service, IVR server used to dial out a mobile number or phone number and play the dedicated song ( a current popular song). During this time, the caller ID was masked to be number who dedicates the song and it was presented to dedicated party.
After that, this service was most probably mis used, so in India, number masking is not allowed, the original caller ID must be presented to the called party.
But technically, it is possible to mask caller ID. Personally, I think it should be allowed to mask caller ID by bulk voice calling service providers ( or Cloud Telephony Service Providers) where they keep record of every call made by them.