Common Home Phone Service Features

Maybe you have a few – or even all of the popular calling features with your current home phone service. To get a good idea of how you can use each of them, check out this glossary of common home phone features:


Call Waiting

Call waiting is a feature many home phone providers offer to customers for free or for a small monthly fee. Call waiting alerts you of incoming calls with a signal or beep, even if you’re currently on the phone. With this feature, you can switch between the two calls as needed.


Call Forwarding

With the call forwarding feature, users can forward any incoming calls to another number, even a mobile phone number. Instructions to set up call forwarding can be obtained from a user’s landline provider.


Caller ID

You can use caller ID to identify a caller before you answer the phone. It’s useful if you’re expecting a call or if you want to be sure who’s calling before you pick up the phone. It can either be an optional or included service offered by landline companies, and may cost a small additional fee.


Call Rejection

This service is also known as “call block” or “call screening.” Call rejection allows you to block unwanted incoming calls from specific numbers. Different rejection methods can be used, including sending the call directly to voicemail, a busy signal or keeping the call ringing indefinitely.


Call Waiting ID

If you have caller ID, you can use call waiting ID. If you’re already on the phone, this feature will alert you of an incoming call and identify the caller. You can choose to continue your current conversation or switch to answer the new call.


Three-Way Calling

Adding the three-way calling feature to your home phone plan allows you to include a third person in a phone conversation, whether they’re calling locally or long distance. To use this feature, you just have to stay on the line. To end the conversation, the original caller must hang up.


Distinctive Ring

Although it can be called different names, distinctive ring is a common home phone feature that allows multiple telephone numbers on the same line. A call to each number will produce a distinctive ring to alert the caller that someone is calling him/her specifically.


Last Call Return

Also known as call return, this feature shows you the telephone number of the last person who called, and what time they called. It is often activated in the United States by the code “*69.” The last call return feature may also allow you to quickly and easily call the person back.


No Solicitation

No solicitation allows you to alert telemarketers that you’re not interested in their calls. In fact, your phone won’t even ring when one of them tries to call you. You can have your calls screened throughout the day to block telemarketers.



If you’re unable to pick up the phone when it rings, the voicemail feature allows the caller to leave a personal voice message that you can listen to at a later time. Earlier forms of voicemail were left on answering machines, although the feature is more commonly built right into the home phone service.


Long Distance

Telephone companies operate within a defined local area. Therefore, any calls you make outside of this area are considered long distance calls. These could be calls made to another city, state or even another country.