Answering multiple simultaneous calls

I am very new to this system. So I have the latest release of the PBX. I have Polycom 501’s for handsets. My issue currently is handling simultaneous calls. Lets say ext. 100 is on a call, any other inbound calls for that Ext. gets the message that the party is on an another call. Then without notifying ext. 100, sends the caller to VM. So, in the extension setup I enabled the call waiting feature. Now the phones are able to handle 2 simultaneous calls, and beyond that if there are any more new calls from another ext. or a trunk, they go to VM unannounced to Ext. 100. How can I enable the phones or at least one phone to ring to all inbound calls. Basically my aim is to give a live receptionist a chance to answer before the IVR takes over. I even went to the individual settings of the Polycom 501’s to see if there is anything there, but no luck. With this issue on hand I am wondering what is the point of having a multi-line phone! I really appreciate your input.

There are actually a couple more sophisticated things a setup like this can do, but this would solve the problem as I understand it.

Why would you do all this hacking instead of simply setting up the line appearances properly on the phone?

Look at queues.

Queues? Not sure where Bill is going with that.

In each line registration on the Polycom is a variable that sets the number of lines per that registration.

Well, with ques, you can “handle” multiple inbound calls with a single handset. But then again, maybe I misinterperated what he wanted. Guess I’ll have to read it again.

By setting up inbound queues, one per phone, inbound calls get routed to the queue. From there, if the extension is available, the person at the phone can answer. If not, the person can sit on hold until the person that called is at the top of the queue, or they can leave a voicemail message (assuming that’s how you set up your queues). Adding additional “ringers” for a receptionist or allowing people to ‘sign in’ on that queue are then handled simply, through the dialing interface on the phone.

There are lots of choices when it comes to queues, so setting it up for a lot of phones would be time consuming, but the end result would be very close to what josephyashar asked for, assuming the receptionist is the second person in the queue answering list and the ring-through option is set to the logical equivalent to “linear”.

There are actually a couple more sophisticated things a setup like this can do, but this would solve the problem as I understand it.

Gents, thank you so much for your input. Let me remind you that I am very new to the system, and need a bit more hand-holding before I catch up with your level of knowledge.
I played with the Ques. It does not seem to work with internal calls. So if the receptionist is on a call, someone internal will have no luck trying to reach her. Then the next issue is that she gets no visual or audio notification that there is another call (internal of from a queue)for her. So, I don’t believe this will work for me.
Aside form that method, SkykingOH mentioned setting up the line appearances properly. I went to web interface of the phone set and setup line 2 and 3 exactly as in line one. No luck. Then played with the values in “Num Line Keys” and “Calls Per Line” Fields. Still no luck. Can you please elaborate a bit more on what you meant by setting up the line appearances. Did I understand you correctly? The line registration you are referring to is found in the web interface of the phone set correct?

If you set number of line keys and have call waiting set to on in the FreePBX extension you will have multiple appearances of the line on the phone and the calls will roll in succession.

Do not program additional lines as duplicates, that will have unintended results.

You really need to read the administrator manual on your phone. Many options available via provisioning files. Programming via the phones web interface is tedious and limiting. You should try the endpoint manager.

As per suggestions of SkykingOH, in the phone set’s setup I increased the value in the field “Num Line Keys” to 3. I now get appearance of multiple lines on my phones. THANK YOU!!!
Now the only issue is that if I am on the phone, the caller ID for additional calls do not appear on the screen before I press the button to pickup that call. I am currently studying the phone’s manual in search of an answer, but if you know of a quick answer I would greatly appreciate it.
Again thank you so much for your assistance!

What version of Polycom software do you have? I think the caller ID for additional line appearances arrived around SIP 3.1

If you have 3.1 or later the CID appears in the top line by the time when you are on another call.

I have SIP 3.1.7. The active call is always on the top line and it shows CID on the top line. The additional inbound calls show up in front of lower buttons without CID. When I press button 2 or 3 to pickup the additional call, the display indication for that call jumps to the first line where the caller ID gets reviled. The first call moves down to line 2 and CID disappears.