Automatic Route Selection on a US-spec KX-TA624

For whatever reason, Panasonic chose to block the automatic route selection features on US-spec KX-TA624 units. I have several purely speculative theories on why this was done:

  • "Americans don't need it" - they felt that long distance was cheap enough here that ARS would be unnecessary.
  • "Americans are stupid" - they felt that the US market couldn't handle the complexity.
  • "Put on the tinfoil hat" - one or more US telcos pressured Panasonic to block the feature.
  • "Marketing" - perhaps Pana felt that the '624 was too small a system to provide ARS to US customers.

  • Whatever the reason, they didn't completely rip the feature out of the US version's programming. If your '624 can use the command line interface, it should be possible to implement ARS. It's very helpful to have a British KX-TA624 manual [dead link removed] if you're going to try this. I used this example before I switched to using Asterisk for my home phone system.

    Note that Program 804 (the standard System Data Dump accessible from the manager's phone) will NOT show ARS-related entries even if they're enabled. The command-line DMP command will show ARS data, though.

    This example is formatted so that it can be pasted into a text file and uploaded via my kxbatch script. Be sure to include the EOD if you use the batch upload method.

    The letter Z is used to indicate REDACTED information.

    ; Program 350: enable ARS
    ; Turn on ARS for CO1
    ; Program 351-354: ARS Prefix
    ; Four ARS routes may be programmed
    ; Select ARS route 1 if the outgoing number begins with 1.
    ; Up to 80 ARS selection patterns may be supplied per route.
    ; If the leading digits match a pattern, the appropriate route
    ; gets selected.
    ; Program 351 = route 1, 352 = route 2, 353 = route 3, 354 = route 4.
    ; Patterns are numbered 01-80.
    ; Up to 7 digits may be used as a trigger pattern.
    ; Program 355-358: ARS Exception List
    ; Set exceptions for Chicago area (local/local toll area),
    ; and for toll-free area codes. Up to 80 exceptions may be set
    ; per route.
    ; Program 355 = route 1, 356 = route 2, 357 = route 3, 358 = route 4.
    ; etc.
    ; Program 360: Number of leading digits to drop
    ; Drop one leading digit (the "1") from outgoing number on ARS route 1.
    ; (360S02 = route 2, etc.)
    ; Prepend AT&T calling card 800 number on ARS route 1.
    ; (361S02 = route 2, etc.)
    ; Add necessary pauses to wait for their system to answer.
    ; Replace Z's with your calling card's toll-free access number.
    ; Use stutter dial tone to indicate that ARS is in effect.
    ; 3 = stutter, 2 = two beeps + continuous tone, 1 = continuous tone,
    ; 0 = no tone.
    ; Add the authorization code on CO1 route 1. (382=route 2, etc.)
    ; Replace Z's with your card code.
    ; Pauses and #'s are needed for timing, and to knock out extra
    ; announcements before dialing the actual number.
    ; Interdigit time = 20 sec.
    ; Program 363 should be 05, 10, 15, or 20
    ; Program 208 should match 363, but the selections
    ; are 0=5 sec, 1=10 sec, 2=15 sec, 3=20 sec
    ; End batch

    ARS in action

    As you are dialing out, the system will examine the digits dialed, and activate the appropriate ARS route if the first digits match the trigger pattern and are not listed in the exceptions. This applies to one-touch and speed dial entries as well as manually dialed calls.

    If you dial slowly, or are using a rotary-dial phone, you will hear the system pick up the CO line and start putting the call through. Although it's disconcerting, keep dialing and don't worry - the digits you dial will be sent out at the right time.

    You can watch the call being put through by observing the phone's display. Under ARS, the CO line isn't seized until enough digits have been collected to determine the proper routing. When that happens, the display will flash "CO x" for a moment, then dial out the appropriate digits. If an exception isn't hit, you'll see the digits from Program 361, followed by the authorization code from Program 38x (which shows up as dots), and then your outgoing digits as modified by Program 360. If you hit an exception, you'll see "CO x" for a moment, followed by the unaltered digits.