WhitePages.com Offers SMS-base Caller ID Enhancement
By now, phone users are pretty much addicted to Caller ID and related services. It is routine to screening calls based on the number displayed on a handset or desk set. In many cases, smartphones (and some feature phones) do a pretty good job of linking incoming numbers to onboard contact information to display a caller’s name, play a distinctive ringtone or display a picture. In addition, a number of network operators and service providers have beefed up their “CNAM” (CallerNAMe) services, making best efforts to display the name or point-of-origination of incoming calls.
Today, WhitePages.comn is introducing a new service called LOOKUP which targets phone users who are willing to pay $1.99 per call or $2.99 a month to find out who’s calling. In both cases, standard rates for text messages apply. When an unfamiliar number appears on the phone’s screen, call recipients text that number to “LOOKUP” (566-587), and the system will respond, first with a notification of the $1.99 charge and a prompt to text “Go” to get the identity or “Stop” to opt out.
The proof of this pudding will be in the completeness of WhitePages.com’s database. The big risk, as always, deals with the growth of unlisted numbers, primarily among wireless users) and the rapid growth of residential VoIP services offered as part of a cable company’s “Triple Play”. The value of the service is fully dependent the success rate in delivering accurate, timely results.
WhitePages.com has done some impressive work in compiling a database that includes wireless as well as fixed line business and residential numbers. My test calls revealed that the service is subject to many of the challenges surrounding accurate CNAM – for instance my own cellphone number always is associated with my wife’s name (because we are on a family plan with AT&T Mobility and the CNAM entry is the name of the person on the bill. Introduction of LOOKUP and other CNAM-dependent services will expose the faults in network-based directory fabric and, ultimately, lead to improvement. Or at least that’s my fond hope.