Calls to Santa flood phone lines

Around the globe, the impending arrival of Santa Claus is driving phone news around the globe. 

In New Zealand, Santa has received 700,000 phone calls since his call center phone lines opened up in early December. Phone calls are beating out letters by a ratio of 6 to 1; poor Saint Nick only got around 100,000 letters from Kiwi children. Marketers will be heartened that cell phones rank among the top five gifts being requested by girls (Bikes and iPods number #1 and 2, respectively for both sexes; boys were more interested in getting Legos and action figures).

Both Qwest and Verizon Business are in on tracking Santa this year. Qwest is bragging that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) uses its fiber network to help track Mr. Claus on his annual Christmas Eve flight, with kids able to get location reports via phone (1-877-HI-NORAD - no, I'm not kidding) and via the "The NORAD Tracks Santa" website, www.noradsanta.org. Live video feeds will be provided throughout the day starting at 6 a.m. EST and ending at 1 a.m. EST on Dec. 25.

Last week Verizon Business alerted the media that it would be providing the toll-free calling for the NORAD effort (see 1-877-HI-NORAD above). In 2007, more than 94,000 calls were answered at the NORAD Tracks Santa ops center at Peterson Air Force Base, where more than a thousand volunteers are manning the lines this year.  

On December 11, VoIP provider Vonage opened up its own special number for its customers. Kids could dial 1-700-CALLSANTA from a Vonage line and get a recorded greeting from Santa. We expect consumer videocalling start-up Vidtel will establish North Pole hours for Santa next year.

For more:
- New Zealand's record Santa calls. Article
- Qwest supplies NORAD with fiber. Release.

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