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Copyright © 2015 E. William Horne. All Rights Reserved.
The Telecom Digest for Oct 25, 2015
|We must fight spam for the same reason we fight crime: not because we are naive enough to believe that we will ever stamp it out, but because we do not want the kind of world that results when no one stands against crime. - Geoffrey Welsh|
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|Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2015 15:28:12 +0000 (UTC) From: David Scheidt <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: New federal rate caps on telephone calls by prison inmates Message-ID: <email@example.com> Bill Horne <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: :Unlike many of their victims, none of the inmates in prisons have a :gun held at their head when they choose to spend money for phone :calls. If they feel that the rates are unreasonable, they need only :stop paying them: And be unable to reasonably participate in their own defence? There are zero good economic reasons that the rates are as high as they are, the problem is that the people who pay do not have any choice in the carrier, and the prisons (and in some cases, politicians personally!) benefit from the high rates. -- sig 23|
|Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2015 15:26:28 -0400 From: Bill Horne <bill@horneQRM.net> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: New federal rate caps on telephone calls by prison inmates Message-ID: <20151024192628.GC23141@telecom.csail.mit.edu> On Sat, Oct 24, 2015 at 03:28:12PM +0000, David Scheidt wrote: > Bill Horne <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: > > :Unlike many of their victims, none of the inmates in prisons have a > :gun held at their head when they choose to spend money for phone > :calls. If they feel that the rates are unreasonable, they need only > :stop paying them: > > And be unable to reasonably participate in their own defence? There > are zero good economic reasons that the rates are as high as they are, > the problem is that the people who pay do not have any choice in the > carrier, and the prisons (and in some cases, politicians personally!) > benefit from the high rates. I think the largest obstacle to any impartial debate on this subject is folklore, but I'm going to ask that you accept the fact that Gideon is not sounding any trumpet for this cause, and that immates rarely participate in their own defense via phone, because their lawyers want to be able to gauge their honesty when speaking about matters which will reflect on the attorney's professional standing and future employability. As for there being "zero good economic reasons" for higher-than-usual rates on calls from prisons, you are wrong. Here's a partial list of the good economic reasons: 1. The intersection of the sets of A. "Available, employable(1), and competent telephone technicians" B. "Techs who can work safely in mixed Delta/Wye/DC power environments" C. "Able-bodied persons who can lift and carry fifty-pound backup battery packs for long distances" D. "Persons willing to endure having human feces thrown at them while they work" ... is vanishingly small, thus motivating the members of the intersection to command higher-than-normal salaries and benefits. 2. Telephone instruments used in secure locations have to be specially made, due to the abuse inmates sometimes visit on the phones over which they receive information-that-they-did-not-want-to-hear. They cost a LOT more than ordinary phones. 3. Telephone instruments used in secure locations must be maintained while a Correctional Officer is in attendance, both so as to lessen the chances of replacement sets or parts being used as concealment for contraband, and to prevent unarmed technicians whom are not trained in self-defense from being assaulted with their own tools. 4. Technicians who work in secure environments must use company vehicles, because they cannot risk having their identities or home addresses known to convicted felons. If a technician arrives at a prison with his/her own vehicle, someone might take note of the license plate, and someone's friend might show up at the techs home and promise not to maim, rape, or kill the technician's family, provided that the tech becomes a mule for a drug dealer. Long story short: secure environments cost a lot more. The costs must be balanced by the income. Bill 1. Fingerprint and criminal background checks are routine, as are random drug and alcohol tests. -- Bill Horne|
|Date: Fri, 23 Oct 2015 22:03:50 -0700 (PDT) From: Neal McLain <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: FCC Sets Incentive Auction Opening Bid Prices Message-ID: <email@example.com> Broadcasters have until Dec. 18 to decide to participate By John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable, 10/16/2015 The FCC Friday [16 OCT 2015] released its final opening bid prices for TV stations eligible for the broadcast incentive auction that starts in March 2016. The commission had provided estimated opening prices in a Greenhill II report back in February, but this is the real thing. The top bid will be in New York -- $900 million for WCBS-TV. The list also includes stations listed as "not needed" that the FCC will not need to offer to buy in order to clear enough spectrum in each market. For example, the FCC needs no stations in Grand Junction-Montrose, Colorado; or the Butte-Bozeman, Montana, markets. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/fcc-sets-incentive-auction-opening-bid-prices/145025 -or- http://tinyurl.com/noe2rrk Every station operating above Channel 37 that is eligible to participate in the incentive auction would have three options: (1) Take the money, surrender its license, and go off the air. (2) Move to a lower channel (between 2 and 36) if it can find one that meets channel- and distance-separation requirements. Virtual "channel" number would remain the same. (3) Join forces with an existing station in the lower band and transmit both signals over the same transmitter within the same channel. Virtual "channel" numbers would remain the same for both stations. Full-power and Class A LPTV stations are eligible to participate. Non-Class A stations are not eligible to participate and may lose their licenses. The status of Channel 37 (radio astronomy) would remain unchanged. Neal McLain After I submitted the above post, the moderator asked me to provide some background information about the Incentive Auction. Bill Horne wrote: > 1. Who is auctioning what, and to whom? > 2. Why? > 3. How does this auction affect the spectrum available to data users with > cellphones in their pockets? > 4. Who pays? Why is it worth it to them? Responses: 1. Who is auctioning what, and to whom? As I wrote in TD 33-176 (6 OCT 14): > The objective of the incentive auction is to consolidate > ("repack") the television broadcast band by moving some > stations to other channels. In the process, the FCC hopes > to clear at least 100 MHz of bandwidth for mobile data > and other applications. The auction has two parts: > PART 1 - CHANNEL BUYBACK: The FCC wants broadcast > stations currently operating on conflicting channels to > "voluntarily" move to other channels, or to consolidate > their signals with other stations (thereby allowing two > stations to operate within the same 6-MHz channel). In > exchange, the FCC would pay participating stations big > bucks to reimburse them for their costs. Congress has > appropriated several million dollars for this purpose. > PART 2 - BANDWIDTH AUCTIONS: The cleared bandwidth would > then be auctioned to mobile data providers or other users > in accordance with established auction procedures. http://tinyurl.com/T-D-33-176 2. Why? To vacate spectrum presently assigned to broadcast television and reassign it for PCS (cell) service and mobile data. 3. How does this auction affect the spectrum available to data users with cellphones in their pockets? It increases the available spectrum by clearing certain UHF broadcast television Channels. The FCC's detailed explanation is here: http://tinyurl.com/pjz237v . 4a. Who pays? PART 1. The U.S. Treasury pays. Congress has appropriated a pot of money for this purpose. PART 2. Once the spectrum is cleared the companies that participate in the auction pay. Presumably PART 2 will raise enough money to offset PART 1 and even return a profit to the treasury. 4b. Why is it worth it to them? Because it's the law of the land. If you're a big major market commercial broadcast station on one of the channels that the FCC wants to clear, it's probably not worth it. But if you don't participate in auction, you may miss your chance to negotiate a reasonable deal for a lower channel. In which case the FCC may do it for you. If you're a marginal commercial broadcast station in a minor market you might decide to take the money and run. Turn off your transmitter, surrender your license, and retire to your Florida villa. If you're a state University that owns a PBS affiliate you might decide to close the station and take the money. The University of South Florida is considering doing just that. http://tinyurl.com/nzrz34c If you're a Class A low power station you are eligible to participate in the auction. Hope for the best. If you're a low power station (but not Class A) you are not eligible to participate in the auction. Good Luck. Neal McLain|
|Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2015 03:15:17 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: How Emojis Find Their Way to Phones Message-ID: <7B854925-7DE3-44E3-89DB-0B71E52F81CD@roscom.com> A new batch of symbols is under review by the Unicode Consortium, a group that regulates standards for every bit of text displayed online. An obscure organization that standardizes the way punctuation marks and other text are represented by computer systems has in recent years found itself at the forefront of mobile pop culture, with its power to create new emojis. A new batch is under review, a process that takes months. But don't call the pictorial system a language, unless you want an argument from Mark Davis, 63, a co-founder and the president of the Unicode Consortium, the group that serves as the midwife to new emojis. Mr. Davis said there was no broadly shared way to interpret the symbols, despite their widespread use on phones and other devices. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/21/technology/how-emojis-find-their-way-to-phones.html ***** Moderator's Note ***** The Telecom Digest has been using the ISO-8859-1 character set for a while now, and it has become a chore to convert characters and symbols from Unicode to ISO-8859-1 when posts arrive with "UTF-8" or other Unicode character sets. ISO-8859-1 is adequate for representing common diacritical marks in posts (e.g., in the word "résumé"). However, I think that the need to cram more information into the small screen of cellular phones will require a more versatile code, and I'm considering switching to "UTF-8", which is one of the options of the Unicode Tranformation Format. I'd like to hear from readers whom are reading the Telecom Digest on mobile devices, and have seen nonsensical or other anomalous characters in the posts, since that's the likely measure of "compatibility" with the ISO-8859-1 character set we're using now. Bill Horne Moderator|
|Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2015 08:25:12 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: The growing culture of impatience, where instant gratification makes us crave more instant gratification Message-ID: <273AFDE8-229D-4456-B389-53D749FE1996@roscom.com> The growing culture of impatience, where instant gratification makes us crave more instant gratification http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/style/2013/02/01/the-growing-culture-impatience-where-instant-gratification-makes-crave-more-instant-gratification/q8tWDNGeJB2mm45fQxtTQP/story.html|
|Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2015 19:33:07 -0400 From: Monty Solomon <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Microsoft's Rule-Breaking Vision of a Future With Countless Devices Message-ID: <B6BA7D01-5D02-465D-BE9F-742D68AA6F8D@roscom.com> Microsoft is embracing a fragmented view of the future, in which no single device, or even single category of devices, reigns supreme.The plan is rife with risk - but that doesn't mean it can't work. Close your eyes and imagine it's five years from now. Now, check your pockets and your desk. Which devices are you using? It's very likely you have a smartphone. But is your second device an iPad-like tablet or a more traditional PC? Or perhaps you have a laptop-tablet hybrid, like Microsoft's Surface? Or maybe you don't own a second device, because your phone is powerful enough. Or you might have everything, because that's how you roll in our hypothetical future. O.K., open your eyes and get back to the present. If you had any trouble choosing, you have a taste of the dilemmas facing Apple, Google and Microsoft, the three players waging an epic battle for the future of computing. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/technology/personaltech/microsofts-rule-breaking-vision-of-a-future-with-countless-devices.html|
|Date: 24 Oct 2015 18:15:51 -0000 From: "John Levine" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com. Subject: Re: New federal rate caps on telephone calls by prison inmates Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> >I propose a simple answer to those who feel convicted felons need >discount phone service: let's all remind the FCC of the rule that >every convicted felon knows - "Don't do the crime if you can't do the >time" - and EVERYTHING that goes with it. This is hardly discount phone service. The rate caps range from 11 to 22 cpm depending on the size of the jail or prison. Considering that the going rate for long distance on the outside is 1 or 2 cpm, there's still plenty of markup. Also remember that many, probably most, prison phone calls are collect, or (since you can't call a prepaid cellphone collect) prepaid cards bought by family members whose only crime is that they want to stay in touch with family members in prison. And most important, unless you believe that the penalty for every crime should be life without parole, most prisoners will sooner or later be out of prison. The stronger the family and community ties an ex-con has, the more likely he is to stay out when he gets out. So, sure, a lot of prisoners are total creeps. But they're not what this rule is about. If you read the press release, it says: Today's action builds on reforms begun by the FCC in 2013, when it acted on a petition by Martha Wright, a grandmother from Washington, D.C., for relief from the exorbitant rates she was paying to call her grandson in prison. R's, John|
|Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2015 14:31:42 -0400 From: Fred Goldstein <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject: Re: New federal rate caps on telephone calls by prison inmates Message-ID: <562BCE8E.email@example.com> On 10/23/2015 11:12 PM, Bill Horne wrote: > On Fri, Oct 23, 2015 at 10:24:03AM -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote: > > NJ.COM reported that the Federal Communications Commission passed > > a sweeping reform on inmate calling costs Thursday, capping the > > rates for the first time on local, in-state and long-distance > > calls. According to the FCC, the "ballooning" rates have cost > > inmates up to $14 per minute for calls at times made from inside > > prisons -- a steep expense that has made contact unaffordable for > > many families with incarcerated relatives. > > > > Some states made a profit above and beyond the expenses of handling > > inmate calls. > > > > Prison experts say contact with families helps rehabilitation and > > prevent fights and disruption within the prison. > > I have a different perspective on this issue than that of many other > people: as a Military Policeman in Vietnam, I saw with my own eyes the > disdain most criminals have for the rules of society, and for those > who obey them. > What passed for a "criminal" then may have been a more selective approach than what passes now. The prison population of the US is several times higher than it was in the 1970s; most are only there for drug crimes, and many are mentally ill. The prison system has replaced the mental hospitals that were closed by "deinstitutionalization". Sentences are also longer now, and many prosecutors more zealous. Especially towards certain population groups. > Unlike many of their victims, none of the inmates in prisons have a > gun held at their head when they choose to spend money for phone > calls. If they feel that the rates are unreasonable, they need only > stop paying them: when enough inmates refrain from doing so, the rates > will fall. It's not as if the U.S. Postal Service isn't in operation, > or as if the liberal media doesn't have hundreds of other tempests to > churn up in dozens of other toilet bowls. > Prison phone calls are the best way for a prisoner to maintain contact with one's family. Those who routinely talk on the phone have a lower recidivism rate than those who are cut off. And their children are less likely to be incarcerated than those who have lost contact. So society as a whole benefits. Society tried the "throw the book at everyone" approach starting in the 1970s, and it resulted in the USA's spending more money on prisons than on education. That's just wrong. Fortunately both parties have recognized the failure of that policy. In the meantime, prisoners' families, who are usually poor (the rich have better lawyering), are being billed ridiculous rates for the collect calls they get from their incarcerated relatives (they are always collect, so the prisoners themselves don't pay). This violates the "just and reasonable" standard for common carrier services. It's good that the FCC is stepping in.|
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