Mark Gilbert's Blog

Science and technology, served light and fluffy.

Maybell, can you patch me through?

I had by far the weirdest cell-phone experience earlier today: I tried to phone home.

And no, my initials are not “ET”.   Just as I hit the Send button, my cell phone rang and the caller ID identified it as my in-laws.  Since I had already hit Send, I put the phone to my ear and said “Hello?”  It was my mother-in-law, and she had a couple of questions for me.

We had a nice conversation, at the end of which she asked, “So, what are you doing home today?”

“Home?”  I replied.  “I’m at work.  You dialed my cell phone.”

“No I didn’t.  I dialed your home number.”

I was terribly confused, and then it dawned on me.  Somehow the two of us dialed my home number at the same time, and my home line (a voice-over-IP line) apparently got confused and simply connected the two incoming calls together.

I laughingly wrapped up my call with my mother-in-law, and tried to call home again.  This time, the phone went straight into voicemail – my cell phone voicemail.

What the?

I picked up the office phone and dialed my cell phone.  My cell phone rang.

I dialed my home number.  My cell phone rang AGAIN.



Now what?  The humor value in this situation suddenly tanked.

I rebooted my phone.  No dice – it was still answering both phone numbers.  I knew my cell phone was capable of handling multiple phone numbers, so I checked the setup.  It was still only reading one line configured, and it was my cell number.  Ok, so if both of my numbers are ringing to my cell phone, do I even have a dial tone at my house?

I began to imagine the long hours that would need to be spent with my cell provider and my VoIP provider to get this sorted out.  I can just imagine the poor tech assigned to troubleshoot the case.  “Yeah, some nutjob somehow managed to get his phones permanently conferenced together…”

Luckily all of that seems to have been averted.  I tried both numbers again a couple of hours later, and somewhere during that time the phones got themselves sorted out.  Considering my VoIP provider, my broadband provider, and my cell provider are all separate, I have no idea how this was possible in the first place.  I was just glad it got sorted out.

I do enjoy talking to myself every now and then, but there has to be a cheaper way to do it.


July 31, 2008 - Posted by | General


  1. Does your VOIP solution allow you to forward calls to another number and if so do you have your cell phone number listed with your VOIP company anywhere? I know that things such as Google’s GrandCentral all you to forward calls to multiple numbers and then allow you to answer from any phone. I believe Vonage offers something similar. If this is the case, maybe somehow the system got messed up and was forwarding calls to your VOIP line to other phones and hence when you called your home it forwarded onto your cell, which since you were already using it, patched you through to your voicemail. That could explain that piece of the puzzle. Something to think about.

    Comment by Michael Markel | August 1, 2008

  2. My VoIP provider does allow forwarding like you’re describing, but I’ve never used that feature. In the end that is probably what was happening, but what confuses me is how the system got into that configuration based on two people dialing the same number at the same time.

    Comment by markegilbert | August 1, 2008

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