Changing ARS Access Codes in Communication Manager
Most users understand that “to get an outside line”, they have to dial some number first – most commonly the digit 9, but sometimes other digits are used. When the user does that, they’re triggering Automatic Route Selection (ARS) functionality, which tells the phone system to automatically figure out how to route the digits that follow the access code.
Communication Manager (CM) permits administrators to assign one or two ARS feature access codes:
change feature-access-codes Page 1 of 10 FEATURE ACCESS CODE (FAC) [...] Auto Route Selection (ARS) - Access Code 1: 8 Access Code 2: 9 [...]
In the above example, ARS can be triggered by dialing either 8 or 9. That can be useful when, for example, users are migrated from many different phone systems onto a unified system, and some users are used to ARS digit 8, and others are used to ARS digit 9. That was the case when my employer deployed Communication Manager to many sites. The decision was made that both ARS digits should be permitted, as nobody was willing to spend the political capital required to retrain the users about that specific thing.
Time passed, and eventually I came to the conclusion that we were going to need to reclaim one digit or the other, so as to expand the available extensions in our dialplan (which were 4-digits in length). Digit 9 seems to be the most common ARS access code, and a very large quantity of our users already used it, so I chose it as the winner; digit 8 needed to be repurposed.
Announcements were made, months in advance, that users should begin using 9 as their ARS access code for all calls and faxes. Users were reminded again the week before, the day before, and the day of the change. Finally, I removed digit 8 as an ARS access code:
change feature-access-codes Page 1 of 10 FEATURE ACCESS CODE (FAC) [...] Auto Route Selection (ARS) - Access Code 1: 9 Access Code 2: [...]
And then I modified the dialplan analysis so that 8 became an extension rather than a feature-access-code.
display dialplan analysis Page 2 of 12 DIAL PLAN ANALYSIS TABLE Location: all Percent Full: 19 Dialed Total Call Dialed Total Call Dialed Total Call String Length Type String Length Type String Length Type [...] 8 1 ext 9 1 fac [...]
Knowing that our users were likely to continue attempting to use digit 8 for ARS access, I decided that we should play back an announcement, reminding them that digit 8 was no longer permitted, and that they should use 9 instead.
display announcement 61299 ANNOUNCEMENTS/AUDIO SOURCES Extension: 61299 COR: 1 Annc Name: ict-ext8 TN: 1 Annc Type: integrated Queue? y Group/Board: G2 Protected? n Rate: 64
The announcement was recorded substantially similar to “We’re sorry, your call could not be completed as dialed. If you are attempting to dial a party that is outside of the [organization name] central telephone system, please remember to first dial the number 9. Dialing the number 8 is no longer permitted as of Sunday, March 1, 2015. Thank you.”
I additionally wanted to ensure that we were playing a special information tone at the beginning of the message, so that any misconfigured (but reasonably intelligent) fax machine should immediately give up trying, rather than continue to try over and over. Thus the pre-existing SIT-VC announcement came into play:
display announcement 3442 ANNOUNCEMENTS/AUDIO SOURCES Extension: 3442 COR: 1 Annc Name: sit-vc TN: 1 Annc Type: integrated Queue? y Group/Board: G2 Protected? n Rate: 64
The vectoring was exceedingly simple:
display vector 309 Page 1 of 6 CALL VECTOR Number: 309 Name: ARS 8 to 9 Multimedia? n Attendant Vectoring? n Meet-me Conf? n Lock? n Basic? y EAS? y G3V4 Enhanced? y ANI/II-Digits? y ASAI Routing? y Prompting? y LAI? y G3V4 Adv Route? y CINFO? y BSR? y Holidays? y Variables? y 3.0 Enhanced? y 01 announcement 3442 02 disconnect after announcement 61299 03 stop
The VDN took extension “8”, so that anyone attempting to use the old ARS access code would immediately be connected to the above vector.
display vdn 8 Page 1 of 3 VECTOR DIRECTORY NUMBER Extension: 8 Name*: Dial 9 Instead - Destination: Vector Number 309 Attendant Vectoring? n Meet-me Conferencing? n Allow VDN Override? n COR: 0 TN*: 1 Measured: none VDN of Origin Annc. Extension*: 1st Skill*: 2nd Skill*: 3rd Skill*: * Follows VDN Override Rules
Watching CDR for hits on extension 8 was hilarious for a few days immediately following this change. There were many hundreds of calls attempted using digit 8, despite repeated notifications that the dialplan was going to change.