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The On-Call Phone: Sprint's Call Forwarding and Google Voice

 Does your company have an on-call cell phone you need to rotate between employees?  Do they use Sprint, the only major cell provider that charges for call forwarding?  Mine does.  It gets to be a pain carrying two phones (the on-call and my personal phone) with me all the time.  I was looking to forward calls to my iPhone, but the on-call Blackberry is on Sprint, and they charge $0.20 per minute to forward calls unconditionally.

Getting Around Sprint's Call Forwarding Charges
Thankfully, I found that you can get around this by using conditional call forwarding, which is free.  This is documented on Sprint's web site here.

In case the link goes bad, I've pasted the details after the break.

Here's the breakdown:

*72 to forward calls unconditionally, *720 to cancel
*73 to forward when busy, *730 to cancel
*74 to forward when no answer, *740 to cancel
*28 to forward when busy or no answer, *38 to cancel

So if you don't want to get charged, don't use *72 at all!  Instead, use *73 (forward when busy).  It'll act more or less like *72 (unconditional call forwarding), except the caller will have to wait through more rings (first set of rings for the Sprint phone, then the second set for the forwarded phone).  If that is a problem, you can turn off the Sprint phone and it will go straight to your forwarded phone number without having to go through the first set of rings.

The caller's phone number appears on my iPhone just as if they called my personal cell number directly.  This is great because I can still see who's calling.

Pairing Up with Google Voice
Now that we can forward calls from the rotating phone, I can have some fun with Google Voice!

Since you can ring multiple phones at once with Google Voice, I can set up the Sprint phone to forward to my Google Voice number and have it ring both my personal iPhone as well as my co-worker.  This way, instead of rotating, it can become more like "first come first serve".  Of course, he's not going to go for that idea.  Another good use for Google voice is to use it to switch between us instead of trading the physical on-all phone back and forth.  With this set up, I can turn off the physical on-call phone (with the actual number the company wanted to keep) and keep it locked away.

There are a few drawbacks, however.  Since you'll be using your personal phone, your number will show up on their caller ID, not the on-call number.  Makes sense, right?  After all, you're basically calling them directly from your own phone.  I haven't found a solution to this except to dial *67 to block caller ID.  This isn't a good solution of the person you're calling is expecting to see the on-call number to show up.

Secondly, if people tend to text message the on-call phone, you won't be able to receive them on your personal call.  This method only forward calls, not text.  Thankfully, we rarely get texts.

And of course, since you're using your personal phone, minutes used when in a forwarded call will eat up your personal call plan's minutes, not your company's.  If you can live with that, or if you have an unlimited voice plan, then go for it.


Offical Word from Sprint's Web Site 

Last Updated: Aug 18, 2010

It is important to note the following details specific to using Call Forwarding on your Sprint phone:

  • Call Forwarding charges may apply when forwarding calls to other cell phone or landline numbers.
     - *28, *73 or *74 are at no charge
     - *72 is billed at $0.20/minute unless you're on a UNLIMITED Simply Everything Plan
  • Call Forwarding does not use up cellular minutes included in your plan.
  • Call Forwarding features are available on both the first and second lines.
  • You can contact us to request that Conditional Call Forwarding (*28 Busy/No Answer) be set for your number the following reasons:
     - Your phone is physically damaged.
     - Your phone will not turn on or the battery is not charged.
     - You are in a bad coverage area or you are experiencing network-related issues.
     - You will be away from the phone for extended period.
  • Call Forwarding cannot be set if either of the following apply:
     - Any call restrictions are added to the number, excluding Caller ID.
     - The phone is no longer active.


  • Call Forwarding does not work with text messages. Any text messages sent to you will not forward to your alternate number.
  • Reader Comments (1)

    I found that dialing *72 *70 *71. Dialing these codes you will not hear your phone ring but the caller will hear a constant ring, the other code gives a constant busy signal, and the other
    says the phone is out of service.
    I found that by mistake, but its oh so neat.

    November 6, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdialing codes

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