TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Who Answers 911? Cell Phones and VoIP Put Responders to Test

Re: Who Answers 911? Cell Phones and VoIP Put Responders to Test

Michael D. Sullivan (userid@camsul.example.invalid)
Wed, 04 May 2005 02:51:58 GMT

Thor Lancelot Simon wrote:

>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: But the _original_ cell phone carriers
>> were the telcos (and still mostly are).

> Not exactly. AMPS licenses were granted to *two* carriers in every
> market: one "wireline" (incumbent LEC) telephone company, and one
> independent carrier. So it is only right to say that *half of* the
> original cell phone carriers were the telcos.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You are correct. The 'A' side was the
> 'competitor' and the 'B' side was the wireline incumbent. Now, let's
> examine those roles as they were played out in two metropolitan
> areas, Chicago and St. Louis, circa 1982-85.

> In Chicago, 'A' was (still is?) "Cellular One", a brand name used by
> various carriers, in this instance Southwestern Bell. 'B' was
> Ameritech Mobile Services, back then a division of Illinois Bell. So,
> Southwestern Bell 'competed with' Illinois Bell in Chicago.

In Chicago, the A block cellular carrier was originally Rogers Radio
Communications Service, a long-time radio common carrier and Bell
competitor. Its network was ultimately acquired by Soutwestern Bell
Mobile Services, which was building up a nationwide presence as a
nonwireline carrier in markets where it didn't own the telco.

This company became part of SBC, and its licenses were ultimately
transferred to Cingular, which SBC co-owns. The B block carrier was
originally AT&T's AMPS subsidiary, which transferred the license to
Ameritech Mobile as part of the AT&T breakup. When SBC merged with
Ameritech, the B block license was divested to GTE, which later became
part of Verizon Wireless. So the non-telco A block license is now
owned by an affiliate of the telco, and the original telco B block
license is now owned by a telco that isn't a telco in Chicago. All

> Now go to St. Louis, and the roles were switched: 'A' was the
> 'competitor', Ameritech Mobile; and 'B' was the established wireline
> incumbent, in this instance d/b/a/ 'Southwestern Bell Mobility'.

A was originally licensed to the nonwireline company Cybertel, which
sold out to Ameritech. B was AT&T/AMPS/Southwestern Bell Mobile
Services, the local telco affiliate. The Ameritech license was
transferred to GTE and then Verizon Wireless, as in Chicago, when SBC
merged with Ameritech, and SBC's license went to Cingular.

> Move a bit west in Missouri/Kansas around KCMO; lo and behold, the
> incumbent on the 'B' side was United Telephone Company, a cousin to
> the Bells, and on the 'A' side was "Cellular One", but this time the
> Dobson outfit d/b/a.

Dobson Cellular is affiliated with the Dobson Telephone Company, but
it's involved in cellular in rural markets all over.

> So, at least in Chicago/St. Louis (and wherever else) it was telco
> versus telco. "Cellular One" you see, at least in those days was
> just a brand name used by various companies, as often as not telcos
> who were _not_ allowed to market telephony under their own name in
> that area. No way, in those days at least, Southwestern Bell would
> have ever been allowed to 'move into or take over' the Chicago
> market, which was Illinois Bell (and soon to be) Ameritech.

The Cellular One brand was originally created and owned by the
Washington Baltimore Cellular Telephone Co., the Washington/Baltimore
A block licensee, which was owned in part by the Washington Post; the
name was created for licensing as a common brand name for A block
licensees, who didn't have the national brand recognition that the
telcos had on the B side. Ironically, Southwestern Bell bought out
the Washington Post and, eventually, the other owners of the
Washington Baltimore Cellular Telephone Co. It continued to use the
Cellular One name for its A block systems, and continued to license
its use by others, until it formed Cingular. When it was decided that
Cingular would use its own name and not Cellular One, the Cellular One
name and licensing rights were sold to Western Wireless, which alredy
used the name widely. And now Western Wireless is being acquired by

Funny thing about the phone business. Almost every company in the
business either started out as a phone company or becomes one.

Michael D. Sullivan
Bethesda, MD (USA)
(Replace "example.invalid" with "com" in my address.)

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I _think_ my original response to Lisa
Hancock is still true however. We were discussing VOIP troubles and
how cellular phone companies 'never got sued' (in the old days)
because of their inability to route 911 correctly. I suggested that
rarity of lawsuits may have been a function of their underlying
ownership; unlike VOIP, which is coming in cold, the cellular
companies all had 'telco' in their family trees somewhere. PAT]

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Fred Goldstein: "Re: Who Answers 911? Cell Phones and VoIP Put Responders to"
Go to Previous message: "Re: Who Answers 911? Cell Phones and VoIP Put Responders to Test"
May be in reply to: Jack Decker: "Who Answers 911? Cell Phones and VoIP Put Responders to Test"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page