30 Years of the Digest ... founded August 21, 1981
The Telecom Digest for November 29, 2011
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Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 23:10:59 -0500 From: tlvp <mPiOsUcB.EtLlLvEp@att.net> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Update on at&t/T-mobile merger Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Thu, 24 Nov 2011 20:55:08 -0800 (PST), HAncock4 wrote: > The NYT reported on 11/24/11 "The companies said they had withdrawn > their application to the F.C.C. to join their cellular phone > operations but still plan to contest a federal antitrust lawsuit and > pursue their $39 billion deal" > > > http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/technology/att-deal-with-t-mobile-takes-a-step-back.html?hp > > > > To me it seems if the whole point of the Bell System Divesture was > that public interest required smaller competing companies, then this > merger should not be allowed. Aren't both wireless companies big > enough on their own to compete successfully? My take, based on news reports and general "reading-between-the-lines" experience: "big enough" has nothing to do with it; rather, 1) Deutsche Telekom (DE) just wants out of the US [T-Mobile (USA)] market; and 2) at&t would rather exploit others' towers, spectrum, and backhaul than pay to erect/develop their own. Other forces may be at play too, of course. Cheers, -- tlvp -- Avant de repondre, jeter la poubelle, SVP.
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 18:37:04 +0000 (UTC) From: John Levine <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Update on at&t/T-mobile merger Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> >My take, based on news reports and general "reading-between-the-lines" >experience: "big enough" has nothing to do with it; rather, 1) Deutsche >Telekom (DE) just wants out of the US [T-Mobile (USA)] market; and 2) at&t >would rather exploit others' towers, spectrum, and backhaul than pay to >erect/develop their own. It's the former, not the latter. The US has two big mobile carriers, AT&T and Verizon, and two small ones, Sprint and T-Mo. The big ones control all of the older 800MHz spectrum and some 1900 MHz, the small ones are all 1900 MHz. (As new spectrum is auctioned, the big two seem to be buying it and doing nothing with it.) Since 800MHz goes through trees and such much better than 1900, it provides much better coverage, if not as high top speeds. The obvious approach of T-Mo and Sprint merging to get bigger scale doesn't work, because Sprint is CDMA and T-Mo is GSM, and the costs of converting one network to the other band would be enormous. Sprint hasn't even finished figuring out what it's going to do with Nextel's network. DT, which is a strong player in other markets, doesn't want to own a weak player here, so they want to get rid of it. Technically it makes some sense to merge T-Mo and AT&T, since they're both GSM, but the main reason AT&T is interested is to knock out a competitor which has historically offered lower prices. I can't find the reference now, but AT&T let slip at one point that they could build out the equivalent facilities they'd get from T-Mo for about 1/10 of what they're offering to spend for T-Mo. So the merger seems to be dead, since it would be egregiously anti-competitive, and DT will have to decide whether to invest in T-Mo, spin it off, or just let it stumble along as is. R's, John
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 15:23:34 -0500 From: "r.e.d." <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: MSNBC/NYT: Caller ID Forging Message-ID: <bMCdnfytL_HnAU_TnZ2dnUVZ_gidnZ2d@earthlink.com> "HAncock4" <email@example.com> wrote in message news:firstname.lastname@example.org... > > [Quote from MSNBC] > > Caller ID has been celebrated as a defense against unwelcome > phone pitches. But it is backfiring. Telemarketers increasingly > are disguising their real identities and phone numbers to provoke > people to pick up the phone. "Humane Soc." may not be the Humane > Society. And [do you] think the I.R.S. is on the line? Think > again. > > Caller ID, in other words, is becoming fake ID. > > For full article please see: > > http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45413739/ns/us_news-the_new_york_times/ > > Can someone point to technical articles/references/etc. giving details about how various methods of caller-id spoofing work? Down to the level of bits in signaling protocols, trunk interfaces, etc. If a reader has such references but is hesitant to reply publicly because of the sensitivity of this issue, you can email me privately, performing an obvious edit on my reply address. To allay concerns, I want to understand this better to try to figure out ways to alleviate the problem. I'm an ex-big-telecom systems engineer (Bell Labs, etc.) who was in the business when Local Area Signaling Services (SS7 for local switches) was introduced, making Caller-ID possible, and it's irritating to me that a service intended to eliminate heavy breathers is now being subverted.
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 13:52:22 -0800 (PST) From: email@example.com (HAncock4) To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Early and modern PBX systems--was Telephony on TV Message-ID: <email@example.com> On Nov 27, 11:41 am, Wes Leatherock <wleat...@yahoo.com> wrote: > In the 1940s, I worked as a reporter and editor for the Daily > Oklahoman / Oklahoma City Times in Oklahoma City. On the > switcchboard multiple, besides the local dial trunks, there what we > could now call s "rotary group" of toll trunks, assigned number > L.D. 343, which gives an idea of the volume of toll traffic. Many businesses had trunks like this on their PBX switchboards. In some cases access was limited to the PBX attendant who had to place calls on them, in others users could dial on them using special access codes, such as 8 or 8n. > There was also L.D. 419 which appeared on a regular black set on a > desk behind the city editor, bypassing the switchboard. Many business people, especially high executives, had a direct line telephone that was separate from the PBX. In several offices I worked in the head man had such a phone and no one answered it if he wasn't around. > In my experience, the switchboard operators were more then pluggers. > If someone asked for Mr. Smith, the PBX operator probably knew the > number and would connect to it without further discussion. Absolutely. The Bell System strongly encouraged that business customers train their PBX attendants thoroughly in good telephone manners as well as merely how to work the keys and cords. However, going way back PBX attendants were also gatekeepers to making outside calls. Many extensions could not dial out and needed the attendant to place any outside calls. Some companies were restrictive with even local calls, most companies were restrictive with toll calls. Often the PBX attendant dialed any toll calls and wrote up an internal charge ticket for the calling extension. One big feature of Centrex when it came out was that each extension would get a separate toll call listing (even when ONI was used.) Question: when did the phone company start providing machine-readable media to customers of their phone bill as an option in addition to paper? I know it was available in 1976. > They also took incoming calls and messages, and were uncanny in > guessing where someone was if they were away from their desks. The amount of 'extra service' rendered by a PBX attendant varied by each business. On large busy boards, the attendants tended to handle traffic only--connecting outside calls to the desired extension. On boards with less traffic the attendants would take messages, offer alternative extensions if one was busy, page people, etc. Today, I find PBX service very frustrating if I need assistance. Switchboards today are so automated there is little service for a caller who needs help. For instance, if you don't know Mr. Smith's extension, you'll be asked to key in his name and it will look it up for you. If Mr. Smith isn't around you'll be routed to his voicemail. The problem is that sometimes you don't know the proper spelling or department of the desired extension, or, the voice-mailbox is full, or the call is urgent. PBXs are supposed to have an exit to get a human, but far too often no human is available or the caller just ends up in dead air or cut off. They seem to go all out to design a system to make it as difficult as possible to get a human. I know they want to save money on labor, but it seems to me they're pushing it way too far. (If there are any PBX administrators reading this would you share your comments on this issue?) > Newspapers were also very big users of communications services, by the > nature of the news business. Many of the buzzers and squawk boxes were > part of the telco provided quipment and integrated with the key > systems. I remember in 1973 the city desk of a large newspaper had lots of 'space saver' ('pharmacist') telephone sets. Instead of a handset, a headset dangled from the hookswitch. Reporters carried lots of dimes and knew the location of payphones to call in urgent stories. (In the 1960s, city reporters also carried transit tokens and a transit map to get around on the transit system). > Telegraph channels were also provided by the telecos, presumably at > competitive rates, in view of the number that were provided by the > telcos. On bitsavers, the IBM introduction to telecommunications has some early statistics of private line telegraph mileage between AT&T and Western Union. Although we thought of Western Union as the 'telegraph company', AT&T had a substantial amount of mileage, both switched and dedicated. Both AT&T and Western Union would advertise large corporate and government private Teletype networks they operated. These included the Pennsylvania State Police, US Steel Corp, and the national Blue Cross/Blue Shield. In the 1960s WU installed a large system for the US Air Force. > TWX was a switched service. A private line system connecting > Teletypes was called just that, not TWX. The nation was blanketed by > such systems of the United Press (for which I later worked), > Associated Press and International News Service, with local, > regional and national wires. For various reasons, many businesses had a news teletype in the office, well into the 1980s (the old dark green Teletype). Stock brokers had it alongside the stock ticker to give business news. Businesses that were weather-sensitive had weather information. > All of them I was familiar with were > telco-provided, except on Saturday afternoons and nights in the fall > when W.U. had rights to various stadium and private circuits were > ordered from them to the selected wire service bureau or to some > newspaper that sent thir own sportswriters. WU literature made a big deal of their ability to quickly set up telegraph lines to cover major sports events, political conventions, and other big news stories. (Old copies of a WU general newsletter are available on disk from the WU retirees association. Interesting stuff, but about an era that is long gone. WU was proud of the many branch offices located in smaller cities and towns. Sadly, today many of those old business districts have fallen on hard times*). > As I recall, all Montgomery Ward stores had their own isolated > systems. On the other hand, later when I was working for the Bell > System, I knew of one industiral installatiion on the Gulf Coast > that chose to go with Bell even thought it was higher in cost > because of the massive ability of the Bell System to restore service > after a hurricane. The Phila department stores had, at least in the 1960s, Bell provided systems, included tie lines connecting all the stores (downtown and branches). This way if a customer wanted something that was out of stock, a clerk could call the equivalent department in another branch and see if the item was available. (As an aside, when I was little I get lost in a branch department store. They took me to the PBX room where the attendants were very nice to me while they paged my mother "we have a little lost boy...". Even though it was a branch store, there were at least two operators, maybe three. Also a bag of jelly beans.) When they got Centrex the phone book listings were detailed with the direct dial number of every department of the store. I think today they discourage customers from calling the sales floor. Department stores had separate "order turret" lines for sales-by- phone. * When I read an old article about a business district, I look it up on Google Street View to compare the photos of then and now. Only once did I see a "Main Street" that hadn't changed--and that was because the 1950s Main Street was rundown already. In the 1950s view, it was clear the people seen were poor, and the main corner had a big pawn shop on it. The current view isn't much changed, and the pawn shop is still in business under the same name.
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 07:50:56 -0500 From: John Stahl <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re.: Cell phones: more texting, less talking? Message-ID: <C5.22.04648.2B383DE4@cdptpa-omtalb.mail.rr.com> On November 27, 2011, "HAncock4" wrote: > On the commuter train on Saturday I noticed it was quieter than > usual. Typically on a weekend many passengers, especially the > younger ones, are yakking away on their cell phones making the train > rather noisy. (That's why some railroads have introduced "quiet > cars", though not on weekends). Anyway, I did notice a number of > passengers 'thumbing away', that is, apparently sending and > receiving text messages. Isn't it amazing how human beings (is it at a certain age level - or should I ask is it "up to" a certain age level) have become so non-verbal in their inter-personal communications? > I understand text message traffic has gone up, which the cell > carriers love because texting uses less bandwidth capacity than a > voice call does, but they charge more for it. One needs to pay > extra to get unlimited texting. Otherwise, as many parents found > out the hard way, texting is expensive. A huge amount of the carriers revenue most probably is coming from texting. After all, texting is really a "no cost to the carrier" item hidden away in the business portion of the sub-band communications between the cell phone and the nearest cell tower; the communication link which keeps the cell system advised as to the location of the cell phone. The 160 character text message, from what I have read, costs the carrier nothing to send or receive (wonder if the person who "discovered" this capability was rewarded for its revelation?) So the extra $5 or $10/month for this "service" is pure profit. Multiply this profit by the 10's of millions of customers who text, relates to huge amounts of monthly revenue. The carriers should be rejoicing! > Has text message traffic overcame voice message traffic? Could > someone expand on today's cell phone traffic mix? Thanks. I am sometimes involved in secondary education where I see examples of a vast number of high school students texting (albeit it, against the rules) every chance they get during the school day. And they have learned to do it without looking at their key boards. John Stahl Aljon Enterprises
Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 15:04:12 -0500 From: "r.e.d." <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: Update on at&t/T-mobile merger Message-ID: <u7ydna38V4tsCk_TnZ2dnUVZ_hydnZ2d@earthlink.com> "HAncock4" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message news:email@example.com... > The NYT reported on 11/24/11 "The companies said they had withdrawn > their application to the F.C.C. to join their cellular phone > operations but still plan to contest a federal antitrust lawsuit and > pursue their $39 billion deal" > > > http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/25/technology/att-deal-with-t-mobile-takes-a-step-back.html?hp > > > > To me it seems if the whole point of the Bell System Divesture was > that public interest required smaller competing companies, then this > merger should not be allowed. Aren't both wireless companies big > enough on their own to compete successfully? > > [public replies, please] > I'm not sure your characterization of the point of the breakup is completely correct. My understanding is that the issue was not size, but that fact that AT&T owned not only long distance and equipment manuracturing. but local service. Creative accounting could cause the regulated local services to subsidize the other parts of the business, particularly long distance, at the expense of local rate-payers, so fair competition for long distance services would not be possible as long as it remained one company.
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 12:59:23 -0500 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Telemarketing On Your Cell Phone? Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> On Point with Tom Ashbrook November 28, 2011 Telemarketing On Your Cell Phone? Congress may soon open up your cell phone to robocalls. Will this put a telemarketing hell in your pocket? Ever since cell phones took off in the early 1990s, they've lived in a special, protected zone - by law. Tele-marketers might hound you on your land line at home, but your cell phone was off-limits. Sacred. No pesky tele-marketing calls ringing in the middle of your morning run, your drive to work, your romantic night out. But as more and more Americans drop land lines and move to cell phones only, American business is desperate to get access to the phone in your pocket. A bill before Congress would open the door. This hour On Point: the push to robo-dial your cell phone. -Tom Ashbrook Guests Brendan Sasso, covers technology and telecommunications for the congressional journal "The Hill." Delicia Reynolds Hand, Legislative Director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates. John Abell, New York City Bureau Chief for Wired. Scott Zoeller, Attorney General for the state of Indiana. Howard Waltzman, A partner at law firm Meyer Brown. He heads a multi-industry coalition of 13-14 different trade associations lobbying for this bill. http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/11/28/cell-phone
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 20:04:34 +0000 (UTC) From: "Adam H. Kerman" <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: Universal Service Reform Order Yields a Surprise or Two Message-ID: <email@example.com> Scott Dorsey <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >Adam H. Kerman <email@example.com> wrote: >>FCC is ordering 6 Mbps down/1.5 up in rural areas in five years in some >>portions of rural service area. 4/1 in all Universal Service areas in >>five years, and 4/1 to 85% of subscribers in three years. >Wow! That's as good as Korea had a decade ago! What an advance! In rural areas? >>What federal law defines broadband as universal service? >In the past it has not been defined as such, which I would argue has been >a barrier to broadband availability in many areas. I'd say a lack of sufficient density of telephone subscribers was the barrier.
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