What is a Voice Mail System (VMS) and a Answering Machine ?
Voice mail system can be thought as a message box for phone user to store voice messages and retrieve it through telephone. User can divert all his calls to his voice mail system when he wishes so.
Main difference between answer machine and voice mail system is that voice mail system is a centralized system where voice mail boxes are managed for many users, while answering machine is an independent individual system connected to a telephone line. Many telephone instrument comes with built-in answering machine.
Messages stored in answering machine is played back on the answering machine equipment, can not be accessed remotely. But voice mail messages can be accessed, listened and managed from anywhere in the world through telephone line.
Answering machine is usually suitable for home use for single line, while voice mail system is more suitable for office use where there are multiple telephone connections as well as extensions through EPABX.
A typical voice mail system operation:
A traditional voice mail system operates in the following way :
1. A dials B.
2. B is unable to attend the call. So call from A gets diverted to voice mail box of B.
3. Caller A hears a greetings from B welcoming him to mailbox of B and asks A to leave/record his voice message after a beep.
4. Once caller A speaks to record his voice message for B, he gets option to hear what he has recorded or hang up.
5. Next time whenever B lifts his phone, he gets to hear a message that he has an unheard voice message that can be heard by pressing some key.
6. If B is out of town, B can dial his voice mail box number ( a predefined number connected to voice mail system) to check if new voice mail has arrived. Then he can browse through his voice mails, listens them, delete them.
A Typical Answering Machine Operation:
1. A dials B.
2. After certain number of rings ( programmable or configurable), answering machine attached to the telephone of B gets activated and answers the call of A.
3. Answering machine greets A and asks to leave a message for B after beep.
4. A records his message and hangs up.
5. B can see a alert text message on his answering machine that a message is stored.
6. B presses a key on the answering machine and listens to it, can delete.
Normally, voice mail system is like an IVR system, invisible to the real user and resides somewhere else, normally at Telecom operator office. While answering machine is a small device attached to the telephone line lying nearby to the telephone instrument or inbuilt into the telephone instrument itself.
Many voice mail systems offer option to reply the voice mail sender through voice again, which is not possible in answering machine! Answering machine is being replaced by voice mail system as voice mail systems offer more features, accessibility.
Recently voice mail systems has developed into a powerful unified messaging solutions integrated with many other communication media line Email, SMS, FAX etc. thanks to smart implementation of IVR systems. I will be updating about it more in my next post about building smart voice mail system using a low cost 4 port analog CTI board.