I represent a large hospital that wanted to play one or the other of two pre-recorded announcements over the overhead paging system, twice per day ("Quiet Time" announcements, in case you're wondering). Rather than ask someone to dial the paging access code and speak these announcements every time, the responsible organization logically wanted to employ pre-recorded announcements. Although not relevant to the question "how does one connect an announcement to a paging system?," additional requirements were to 1) automatically select the announcement that was appropriate for the time of day and 2) allow this to be initiated from any phone.
The solution was to create two new analog stations, each with Hot Line service assigned. One was programmed to automatically dial - when placed off-hook - a VDN that pointed to a vector that connected to the appropriate announcement (stored on a VAL board) based upon time-of-day routing steps. The second station was programmed to automatically dial the existing paging access code. These two stations were both connected to the tip and ring leads on a single port on a TN763 Aux Trunk circuit pack that had been defined in translations as a loudspeaker paging zone (even though that port was not, in fact, connected to the paging system at all).
When the access code for the paging zone is dialed, the TN763 port generates an off-hook condition toward both of the analog stations simultaneously, effectively bridging the selected announcement to the paging system. Works like a champ.
- The initiator of the pages has to remain off-hook for the duration of each announcement; hanging up early would terminate the announcement part-way through. Luckily, the announcements are brief, so this is not a problem.
- We tried connecting each of the two analog stations to separate ports on the TN763 and then dialing the "all zones" access code. This, too, took both stations off-hook simultaneously but it turned out that when the all zones code was dialed, i.e. when the Loudspeaker Paging feature seized two or more ports (zones) simultaneously, there was no two-way talk path (makes sense when you think of it; feedback issues, etc.), so the announcement audio coming back from the VAL board on one hot-line station was not "heard" by the paging amplifier connected to the other hot-line station (or, for that matter, by the initiator of the call). When dialing a single zone, there is a two-way talk path. But if this had worked, it would have meant that the loudspeaker paging system would have been dedicated to this single application.
- Had it been acceptable to always initiate the connection between the announcement(s) and paging system from just a single location, it would have been easier to just wire both of the two new analog stations to the same single analog phone; just lifting the receiver on that phone would have accomplished the same thing.
- We had discussed putting two autodial buttons on selected phones, one to dial the announcement (via the VDN/vector) and another to dial the paging access code. The user would go off hook, press one autodial button, press the Transfer button, press the second autodial button and hang up (assuming that the "transfer upon hangup" feature was set to "y" on the System Parameters Features form). One of the benefits of this latter solution would have been that the initiator would not have had to remain off hook for the duration of each announcement (the vector steps would have been written as "disconnect after announcement XX", thus assuring that the connection would be torn down after each announcement play). This approach was deemed less desirable because 1) it would have required multi-button phones and pre-administration of buttons on every station that might ever need to invoke the feature (manual dialing would have been way too slow and error prone) and 2) even with very fast sequential pressing of the buttons, there was an increased chance of "clipping" of the announcement as heard over the paging system (the announcement might start to play before the transfer to the paging amp was complete).