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The Telecom Digest for Sun, 29 Oct 2017
Volume 36 : Issue 136 : "text" format

Table of contents
Re: FCC Proposes Market-Based Changes to Toll Free Number AdministrationGordon Burditt
Re: History--Western Union's cellular service, 1984HAncock4
Re: History – Western Union's cellular service, 1984 bernieS
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Message-ID: <QamdndU7tM2ZpmnEnZ2dnUU7-cHNnZ2d@posted.internetamerica> Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2017 03:08:36 -0500 From: gordonb.ms5m4@burditt.org (Gordon Burditt) Subject: Re: FCC Proposes Market-Based Changes to Toll Free Number Administration >>On Sept. 28, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission >>released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that >>seeks to permit the assignment of toll free numbers via >>alternative market-based approaches, Would there be any effect on toll-free number hoarding if there was a fee of, say, $1 / month per number "owned", whether there is any service connected with that number or not? Yes, that means you and me as well as the hoarders, but the hoarders have a LOT more numbers, and I suspect this would upset their business plan. > I'd like to understand one thing: why does anyone bother with toll- > free numbers any more? Don't most people have national calling > plans at this point? (Especially poor people, who are as likely to > have prepaid cellular as landlines these days.) Most people do not have *UNLIMITED* national plans, and it's really easy to burn up a few months worth of your minutes on hold with one attempt to resolve an issue with, say, an insurance company, which may involve lots of calls and many hours on hold. (I do know of one person who spent several days including an entire weekend on hold trying to contact a mortgage company to get some mess straightened out before April 15, and that call didn't resolve anything - she didn't even get through to a bot. Your marginal cost can be a lot higher than your average cost for minutes. It gets even worse if going 1 minute over requires you to buy another $20 in minutes, even if that includes a lot of minutes for that $20. If you are usually close to your limit, go over it occasionally, and can't forecast exactly how much you're going to need for the rest of the month for talking to friends, co-workers, and family, you may be a bit reluctant to a business where you might be spending a lot of time on hold. When Obamacare's health marketplace first started in 2014, I signed up, then spent the whole year trying to find a doctor in my network. After a few hundred calls to doctors on the insurance company's list, all of whom denied being in the network, and lots of time on hold with the insurance company and online with their web site, I never succeeded in finding an in-network doctor. I don't really believe there was one - that was a big waste of money that year for both unusable health insurance and overages on minutes. ------------------------------ Message-ID: <7230d40d-f230-41b8-a857-ab12400073f5@googlegroups.com> Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2017 13:03:26 -0700 (PDT) From: HAncock4 <withheld@invalid.telecom-digest.org> Subject: Re: History--Western Union's cellular service, 1984 On Saturday, October 28, 2017 at 1:14:22 AM UTC-4, Michael D. Sullivan wrote: > HAncock4 <withheld@invalid.telecom-digest.org> wrote: > > > In 1984, the Western Union Telegraph Company got into the cellular > > mobile phone business. Below is a link to an ad they ran in "New > > York" magazine. > > > > Unfortunately, at that time W/U was losing serious money in various > > ventures. They were forced to sell off their bandwidth. Had they > > been able to keep it a few more years, it would've been very > > valuable. > > > > https://books.google.com/books?id=gOUCAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA23&dq=look%20%22western%20union%22&pg=PA23#v=onepage&q&f=false > > That ad doesn't advertise cellular *service*, but physical cellular > *phones* made by WUTC's E.F. Johnson subsidiary. WUTC didn't have any > cellular "bandwidth" in New York. There were two cellular licensees > in New York back then; one of the two initial licenses was awarded to > the NYNEX cellular affiliate and the other was awarded to Cellular > Telephone Corporation, a joint venture of LIN Broadcasting, > Metromedia, and a coalition of New York paging companies (principally > Metromedia). Western Union Telegraph Co. was not involved. (I was > the chief of the FCC's Mobile Services Division, responsible for > cellular rules and licensing, at the time.) It appears that WU did have some spectrum in a few other places. According to "The Cellphone: The History and Technology of the Gadget That Changed the World"*, pg 70, Western Union won several markets with the potential of millions of potential users, but when the company hit hard times, the decision came to sell everything. Western Union sold its cellular phone spectrum in 1985, giving away what would later turn out to be billions in revenue. * Available on google books at: https://books.google.com/books?id=3WNnM7iZF_QC&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&dq=western+union+cellular+spectrum &source=bl&ots=JME88bm1bM&sig=t1cBc0sx8cbE4atu4erXMbDdpzE &hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi32Yv1ipTXAhUD_IMKHYdjBL0Q6AEIRDAF#v=onepage &q=western%20union%20cellular%20spectrum&f=false ------------------------------ Message-ID: <20171027064229.55264.qmail@submit.iecc.com> Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2017 02:42:06 -0400 From: bernieS <bernies@remove-this.panix.com> Subject: Re: History -- Western Union's cellular service, 1984 In 1985 I installed this very same Western Union branded cellular telephone systems in a friend's Cadillac. I don't know where he got the phone or how much he paid for it, but it was like the Rolls-Royce of cellular phones. At the time cellular phones cost thousands of dollars (no portables yet) and this was the best of the best. I mounted the large, heavy transceiver in the trunk and ran the fat wiring harness under the carpeting to the transmission hump under the dash, where I mounted the control head. The Western Union cellular (AMPS) transceiver was the only one I've ever seen to this day that used a diversity receiver--two receivers and two antennas arranged in a 'voting' configuration to ensure the 800 MHz band signal would be received as reliably as possible. The wavelength of the radio signals in that 800 MHz band made 'picket fencing" (rapid signal fade-in / fade out) a problem as the car phone was in motion and experienced signal peaks and troughs from to wave interference, which could cause the transceiver to lose connection with the cellular repeater / tower. So I took advantage of the feature and mounted dual 5/8 wave coaxial antennas on either side of the trunk. It looked and worked great. The Western Union control head was impressive. The keypad and electroluminescent blue display looked similar to an AT&T Merlin desk set, but with the control panel and keypad angled to the left towards the driver. The handset looked like a normal modular handset with squired-off earpiece and microphone. All very ergonomic. It had a key switch to prevent unauthorized phone calls (by parking valets) and a relay that could blow your car horn when you were outside the vehicle when your phone rang! This phone had full-duplex audio and superb audio fidelity. Remember, the AMPS standard mandated a 30 KHz FM chanel for each side of the conversation. Nowadays we're stuck with a comparatively awful-sounding 4 kbps half-duplex codec and a tinny earpiece speaker. Progress? Only for telco industry profits. Cell phones used to sound as good as landlines. Western Union not only invested in cellular licenses in various markets, but also manufactured end-user equipment. This phone model was made by WU's subsidiary E.F. Johnson, which had a long history of making quality two-way radio gear. (I still have my 1959 E.F. Johnson Challenger amateur shortwave transmitter.) The New York Magazine advertisement posted by HAncock4 touted the phone's privacy. That's a laugh. While it was more private than pre-cellular IMTS (which was like a giant party line) analog (AMPS) cellular calls were anything but private. Anyone could easily monitor nearby random cellular conversations with an ordinary analog TV by tuning through the upper UHF TV channels which had been recently refarmed by the FCC for cellular around 1980. To address potential cellular users' privacy concerns, the cellular telephone industry lobby bought a new federal law in 1986 called the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) which for the first time criminalized listening to certain radio frequencies. And it denied FCC type-acceptance for consumer-grade receivers/scanners that could receive those frequencies. But modifying radio scanners wasn't difficult and turned cellular monitoring into a popular hobby -- until the FCC allowed cellular telcos to switch to encrypted digital modulation in 2007. -bernieS ------------------------------ ********************************************* End of telecom Digest Sun, 29 Oct 2017

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