Universal Service Fund [telecom]

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The Universal Service Fund (USF) is a system of telecommunications
subsidies and fees managed by the United States Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) intended to promote universal access to
telecommunications services in the United States. The FCC established
the fund in 1997 in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of
1996. The FCC is a government agency that implements and enforces
America's communication regulations in all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, and other U.S. territories. The fund reported a total of
$7.82 billion in disbursements in 2014, divided among its four
programs. The fund is supported by charging telecommunications
companies a fee which is set quarterly. As of the third quarter of
2016, the rate is 17.9% of a telecom company's interstate and
international end-user revenues.

While separate itemization is not required by the FCC, it is common
for USF fees to be listed separately from other charges on a
consumer's bill. Universal Service charges should not be confused with
what are sometimes referred to in telephone company bills as "Federal
Subscriber Line" charges, which are access fees charged by
telecommunications companies, not the local or federal government.


Bill Horne
(Remove QRM from my email address to write to me directly)

Re: Universal Service Fund [telecom]
On Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 10:11:17 PM UTC-4, Bill Horne wrote:
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In the old days, universal service was a major goal of state and
federal utility regulators.  They achieved it by setting basic service
rates very low (bare bones was $3/month*) while premium service rates
were set higher as a cross subsidy.

One of the objectives of the Bell breakup was to eliminate that
cross-subsidy so that business and LD rates would go down and big
businesses would save money (which is what happened).  Local customers
promptly saw rate increases and a new universal service charge, so
they had no net gain from Divestiture.

*That $3 included a telephone set, all maintenance for the set as well
as inside and outside wiring, and interconnection to long distance.

By the way, in my area there is a 911 "fee" added to my phone bill.
In the old days, the phone company was proud to have the local
Operator assist in placing and completing emergency calls pubic safety


+  The Telecom Digest would not be possible without the generous support  +
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Re: Universal Service Fund [telecom]
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I agree that the USF is totally screwed up these days, but I would
disagree that local customers had no net gain.  If you make any long
distance calls at all, the rates have dropped to the point where they
hardly matter.  3 cpm for anywhere in the country is typical.

+   The Telecom Digest depends on generous supporters like John Levine    +

Re: Universal Service Fund [telecom]
On Friday, September 21, 2018 at 9:52:47 AM UTC-4, John Levine wrote:
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The elimination of cross-subsidy allowed some decrease in
long distance call rates, but that is not the only factor.

In the days after Divestiture, long distance rates fell, but
the biggest cuts were for the long haul calls.  Short haul calls
didn't fall, or even increased.

Note that in that time consumers were hammered by ridiculous
charges (e.g. $25 per call) for "alternative operator services".

In more recent years, long distance rates have become too cheap
to meter because of technological improvements--a situation that
has been ongoing for decades.  Long distance rates were falling
since the 1930s, this isn't anything new.  The same factors
that allow a powerful personal computer to sell for $250 today
when it once cost thousands allowed long distance calls to be

Further, many telephone plans--both landline and cellular--cost
more because long distance costs are factored into them.

Re: [telecom] Universal Service Fund
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I agree with HAncock4. Divestiture was a lose-lose for everybody. The military
and DoD were on AT&T's side, not the government's, for the record. Consumers
lost from divestiture. A great book to read for this is "The Rape of Ma Bell".
A little esoteric at times but it does a great job explaining why Divestiture
was about the worst thing to happen in U.S. telecommunications history.

The phone companies also lost from divestiture. The previous relationship
between BOCs and AT&T was very synergistic. It was very efficient at restoring
service quickly and operating efficiently. After the MFJ, it was pure disarray
everywhere. A phone network is better when unified, not fractured into a
million pieces as it was. And the whole LATA scheme is about the most bizarre
and convoluted structure ever dreamt up. Back then, long-distance was charged
by distance. Now, calling your neighbor can be considered long distance
because of dumb LATA rules. What the heck??

Back then, consumers could just call the "phone company" for service, which
was prompt, quick, and hassle-free. After Divestiture: which phone company?
The local phone company? The interstate phone company? AT&T? MCI? Some other

The only real winners were businesses, since businesses were the primary
originator of long-distance calls so they saw their phone bills decrease
significantly, whereas customers bills increased to reflect the true cost of
the service they were receiving. And business lines used to be more expensive,
I'm not sure if that's still the case either.

I don't know where $0.03/min came from. The incumbent in my area does not
offer any flat-rate long distance calling plan, and long-distance is $3.95 per
month plus $0.15 per minute. A 40 minute call from Wisconsin to Minnesota is
slightly over $6. An hour of talking is $9. I don't call that cheap.

So the breakup was a lose-lose for everybody, except businesses, although I
would say businesses still lost out on the quality of service they would have
gotten with Bell. They enjoy cheaper rates though, so I wanted to qualify

***** Moderator's Note *****

A. Because it doesn't follow the natural, intuitive top-to-bottom
   tradition of writing during a written conversation or debate.

Q. Why is top-posting bad?

Bill Horne

Re: [telecom] Universal Service Fund
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That's impressive, but utterly atypical.  Where are you, anyway?

My incumbent is a high priced RLEC in upstate New York, who offer flat
rate long distance for about $10/mo, or let you pick your own LD
carrier which is what I do.  My LD carrier charges 3.3cpm plus about
$3/mo which includes an 800 number.

Re: [telecom] Universal Service Fund
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Turns out she's an at&t customer, so she can pick any competing long
distance carrier she wants.

AT&T has basically given up on consumer long distance, and offers only
that overpriced plan for people who don't realize that they can make
one phone call and switch to someone better.

John Levine, johnl@iecc.com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail. https://jl.ly

Re: [telecom] Universal Service Fund
On Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 1:47:44 PM UTC-4, Naveen Albert wrote:

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To enlarge on the above:

My employer at the time of Divestiture was implementing a large
scale data communications network.  Before Divestiture we had an
efficient single point of contact with the local telephone company.
After Divestiture we had to deal with the local telephone
company and various long distance companies.  If there was a
problem, there was finger pointing between the LD carriers and
the local company.  It meant a delay in fixing trouble which
meant business lines were down and operations disrupted.
Very frustrating.

Yes, there were some rate savings.  However, these were more than
eaten up by the fact we had to now hire our own staff to do the
stuff the phone company used to do for us, and handle the finger-
pointing issues.  

The LATA scheme was particularly frustrating and expensive.  We
had a branch office that occupied two buildings across the
street from each other.  The street happened to be a LATA
boundary.  Previously, we used local lines connect the two
buildings, easy, no problem.  After Divestiture it was a big
expensive mess.

Back then, we also had problems with MCI and Sprint trying to
muscle in to get business.  MCI threatened to sue us (they did
a lot of that to build up their business).  (There was a good
book that described the early days of MCI.  It was pro-MCI,
and actually felt that MCI was entitled to force their way
onto customers by litigation, as if MCI was entitled to  
business instead of earning it by offering superior service
at a lower price.)

In terms of telephone sets and local switchgear, I think
Avaya is pretty good, and they're the descendant of Western
Electric.  But the old Western Electric gear was extremely
reliable and durable, and of course made in the USA.

Ironically, we've now come full circle in that MCI is gone and
a local carrier can now handle long distance.  I think the bulk
of the telephone industry today is only AT&T and Verizon, with
others (e.g. Frontier, Century) occupying a relatively small niche.
Given that we're back to where we started, what was the point  
of Divestiture?

Re: [telecom] Universal Service Fund
On Saturday, September 22, 2018 2:33 PM, Hancock4 wrote:
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Given that we're back to where we started, what was the point of

We're only back to where we started in one sense. The monopoly aspect
of the business is kind of back. But not really, we still have
unneeded competition that complicates things. But the Bell System is
definitely not back. There is no quality customer service. They all
contract out to Asian call centers who can't speak properly and have
no idea about how to help up. I remember talking with AT&T for 2.5
hours once only to get nowhere and was rudely hung up on at the end. I
called CenturyLink and was talking instantly to this very helpful guy
who lived in Montana, who answered all my questions. I'm certainly
glad CL is the ILEC in MT, not AT&T!

No helpful installers today. If you go to AT&T's website you can't
even find where the landline stuff is, you have to do an Internet
search. Copper everywhere is decaying. Things would be much better if
Divestiture had never happened.

The only thing I like about Divestiture is now we can own our own
phones. Good for people who are telephone collectors, like me. But
people were doing that unofficially back before Divestiture anyways,
so that might be a moot point too.

***** Moderator's Note *****

A. Because it disturbe the normal top-to-bottom flow of a written conversation.
Q. Why is top-posting bad?

Bill Horne

[Telecom] Finger Pointing
     I was just reading Hancock4's post of 9/22.

     His brief reference to 'finger pointing' in the industry brought
back a lot of memories.

     I worked for MCI during their high growth years.  I was a very
sharp troubleshooter on analog lines.  Every time a vendor tried to
get me into a finger pointing match with them, I always prevailed.
That was because I did thorough troubleshooting and I never assigned
blame to another telephone company or COAM provider without absolute
proof.  If it wasn't their issue, I'd just fix it without getting them

     Sadly, a lot of the COAM and even some of the phone companies
would make assumptions and deny the issue was theirs even though my
troubleshooting clearly demonstrated that it was.  It happens a lot
more often than you think much to your customer's displeasure.

     In my later years at MCI, I was involved with a department called
'Accounts Maintenance'.  It was a polite name for something else.  A
more accurate name might have been 'Troubled Accounts'.

     These were customers with foreign exchange lines, WATS lines,
and/or analog data lines.

     They never sent me to a customer unless the customer was already
absolutely furious.  I could bet you a hundred dollar bill [with no
fear of losing] that the customer was ready to eat me alive when I
walked in the door.

     But I never failed to resolve their issue(s).  I always had them
eating out of my hand when I left.  I saved many an account for MCI.

     When I would get into a difference of opinion (a more
professional way of referring to it than 'finger pointing'), I would
schedule a meet with the COAM or telco and prove the issue to them. I
always isolated the issue to their service or equipment and got them
to repair it.

     I thoroughly embarrassed the local Bell company because they
refused to believe my assessment.  Their field installers/repair men
always took the attitude that if you weren't one of them, you didn't
know anything.

     The customer was experiencing a loud hum whenever they bridged
their MCI WATS line with one of their Bell lines.  It otherwise worked

     I had the local phone company go out and check it.  All he did
was check for dial tone at the demarc, said there was nothing wrong,
and proceeded to leave.

     That customer was a burglar/fire alarm company that paid the
local company twenty thousand dollars per month for all of the lines
they used to monitor their customers' alarms.  That customer stopped
the installer, explained to him that he was a large customer, and
politely asked him to assist him in resolving that issue.  The
installer refused and he left.

     I went out there with my test equipment.  When I put a volt ohm
meter between ring and ground, the meter pegged to the left.  There
was positive battery on the ring of the circuit we had leased from the
local Bell company to carry our WATS service to his premises.  I
checked the conditions on the Bell lines to compare.  They all showed
negative battery ring to ground.

     I opened a trouble report with the local phone company.  They
sent the same installer/repair man to the site as before.  He called
me and told me I didn't know what I was talking about.  He said I sent
him out on an unnecessary trip.  He also stated, 'on a loop start
circuit telco does not provide battery' (excuse me?).

     I told him to hold tight and not leave because I was now going to
escalate this.

     When I called the escalation line, they let me speak to a
technical supervisor.  I told him what I had found on the line and
that the installer/repair man was refusing to address the issue.  He
told me he'd call me back.

     About ten minutes later, my phone rang.  It was our customer.  He
told me that it worked and he even bridged up our line to demonstrate
that there was no longer a loud hum on the line when they bridged it.
I heard a clear MCI dial tone with no hum.

     Five minutes later, I got a phone call from the technical
 supervisor.  He told me, "Fred, I would have bet a month's pay that
 you were wrong.  And I would have *lost*!".  They had identified a
 defective power supply they had installed on the customer's premises.
 When they replaced it, the issue cleared.

     Problem solved.

     I ran into that installer/repair man at one of our data customers
about a month later.  From then on any time I asked him to do
something or told him how to troubleshoot anything, it was 'Yes, sir'
and he acted!  I never had another minute's issue with him (I still
remember his name, haha).  Apparently that story spread to the rest of
his colleagues in that area because their attitude seemed to change
when I dealt with them, too.

     I could tell a number of other stories like this.  I had one with
Rolm where I had to arrange a meet.  I really embarrassed the folks at
Rolm when I immediately proved that the issue with the WATS line was a
card in the customer's switch and not our WATS line.  They had been
telling the customer for weeks that the issue was not in the Rolm
switch.  Of course, they insisted the issue was on the WATS line we
were providing.  The supervisor that met me swapped out the Rolm card
while I waited and the issue was immediately resolved.  The customer
went absolutely ballistic when he found he had been without his WATS
line for weeks because of that defective card and Rolm had repeatedly
denied it was their issue.  I could give you further details, but I
think you get the idea.

     Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than finger pointing
between telcos and/or COAM providers.  First, thoroughly troubleshoot
it and clearly identify the issue.  If it is your issue, resolve it
right then and there.  If you isolate it to another service provider
or customer equipment, schedule a meet with the telco or COAM provider
and make sure everyone in attendance understands that no one is
leaving until the issue is resolved.  Then, resolve it.  That leads to
much happier customers.


Re: [Telecom] Finger Pointing
On Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 04:12:50PM -0600, Fred Atkinson wrote:
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I guess it was inevitable that *someone* at MCI knew their trade. I'm
glad to know it was you. ;-)

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For those of a certain age, "COAM" means "Customer Owned And
Maintained." Where I worked, the designation was mostly applied to
owners of COCOT (Customer Owned Coin Operated Telephone) pay phones,
and then to those who bought PBX (Private Branch eXchange) units from
a slew of fly-by-night vendors who cropped up after divestiture to
take advantage of the Bell System reputation for reliability, by
peddling sub-standard technology at exorbitant prices.

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Bell System technicians were trained to be self-assured and confident
when dealing with customers, long before divestiture. They sometimes
looked down on technicians working for other vendors because, frankly,
there wasn't much to go wrong with phone company wires or equipment,
and repairs could, for that reason, be made simply and quickly. THere
were some companies that I won't name which had a business model of
relying on Bell System training and expertise to do all the
"complicated" work on their behalf.

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I worked on a number of "Extension Off Premise" lines when I was a
Toll Test Technician, and often when I had to act on a complant from a
COAM vendor, I would often put a meter on a "dial tone" line coming
from a PBX that was (at best) capable of supporting some proprietary
desk phones in a small office, and it would show "floating" voltages
that did not meet the interface specification. I was usually forced to
explain to the vendor and the customer that the PBX was not producing
the conditions needed to interface with T-Carrier, range extender, or
other trunk-side equipment in my office. The vendors involved would
often complain that "Ma Bell" had gerrymandered the standards to her
advantage, even though they had been in use for decades, just to
placate their customers.

We could debate endlessly about whether those standards were "fair,"
even though the ILECs bent over backwards to accomodate incompatible
PBX's and other shoddy merchandise. Just as one example, we went
through several versions of D4 T-Carrier channel units that were
designed to work with the bizarre variety of PBX units being imported
for sale to dumb purchasing managers who assmed that every phone was
the same as every other, and wouldn't listen to the truth.

I think most customer frustration was caused by the double-talk and
evasiveness of some new entrants into the "telephone" business who
didn't know anything about it, and who assumed that "standards" were
for others to uphold. They wanted money, and they didn't care how they
got it. They cried endlessly to the FCC, to the various PUC's, and to
the media, while they sold carp hardware and planned on being both
rich and gone before it failed.



Bill Horne
(Remove QRM from my email address to write to me directly)

Re: [Telecom] Finger Pointing
On Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 3:32:02 PM UTC-4, Bill Horne wrote:
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This was a huge problem.  We saw it in this newsgroup years
ago when some of those sellers would pose basic questions
they should've known the answer to if they were in the business.

A big problem with those alternate PBX's was when there was an
explosion of new area codes and exchange designations.  New
PBX's had internal tables to control and route calls*.  The  
newcomer companies failed to subscribe to industry bulletins
giving timely news of new codes and didn't keep their PBX's up
to date  Customers couldn't make calls to new area codes.

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In the old days, Bell had end-to-end responsibility.  So the
customers didn't care about the technical issues since Bell was
expected to diagnose and resolve the problem, whatever it was.
Generally (with some exceptions) that worked out well.

Some large installations essentially had a full-time Bell tech
on site to do repairs or installations.

Back in the days of PBX operators, many large companies required
that their operators previously had worked at Bell in order to
have been thoroughly trained.

Bell did train their people well.  However, at times it could be
regimented and highly structured.  They really did have a procedure
on the proper way to sweep a floor (partly to keep dust down and
away from the switchgear.)


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I saw many examples of the above.  Very frustrating.  

Sadly, the old Bell System had a tarnished reputation at the
time of Divestiture.  It was considered by many CEO's to be
better to dump Bell and save money with a newcomer equipment
supplier and carrier.  In the early days after Divestiture
Bell people found themselves in a salesman's role, which they
were not trained or prepared to do, and didn't do well.  In
contrast, many of the newcomers were salesman first and
convinced corporate to go with them, even if the technical
staff disagreed.

At the time of Divestiture, the technical staff at my
employer disliked the newcomers.  They knew enough to
know their claims were crap.  But corporate liked the
savings and glitz.  The inhouse people ended up cleaning
up a lot of messes.  That happened in many places.

* Historical Note:  In the past, dialable codes and PBX routing
was controlled at the central office, not at the PBX.  In some
cases, an extension would know to dial 8 for an outward WATS line
or tie line for a call to a distant point.  (Sometimes there were
multiple lines to choose from, so there was 81+, 82+ etc).  Anyway,
in the new world, PBX's would be individually programmed, but
the tables had to be kept up to date.

Re: [telecom] Finger Pointing
On Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 3:32:02 PM UTC-4, Bill Horne wrote:

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ITT took out a full page ad in LIFE in 1970 for their electronic
PBX.  (page 24)

Here is another one from 1982 for Code A Phone.

In 1975 the Bell System had the Dimension electronic PBX (two documents)


Just out of curiosity, would anyone have heard of these units and if
they were any good, like their ads tout?

In my own humble opinion as a worker-bee, many of these systems were
overloaded with unnecessary features that most ordinary users never
bothered to learn, much less utilize.

One office I was in had call-pickup.  It was rarely used, and often
caused confusion when it was used.  Indeed, some users had the call
pickup feature turned off.

Distinctive ringing caused confusion and was not liked.

Today, amazingly many office employees do not even know how to
transfer a call from one extension to another; a PBX function that's
been around for 100 years.  They just tell the caller to call back.
When we got Centrex II 40 years ago, all we had to do was flask the
hookswitch and dial the desired extension and hang up.

Re: Re: [telecom] Finger Pointing
On 9/27/2018 4:40 PM, HAncock4 wrote:
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I co-wrote a book about the new electronic PBXs in the late 1970s. It
is an area where Ma Bell was way, way behind the curve.

First off, bear in mind that this was years before divestiture.  
Terminal equipment (CPE) was opened to competition by the 1968
Carterfone decision. In 1976 the FCC introduced Registration, to get
rid of the silly "protective coupling arrangements" COAM previously
needed. In 1980's Computer II decision, the FCC fully deregulated CPE,
effective 1983; all of the Bell CPE was moved to American Bell
Inc. This was before Divestiture, which then left AT&T with the CPE
(then called ATTIS) while the Bells kept the intraLATA networks.

During the 1970s, though, Ma Bell still kept its PBXs on tariff, rental  
only; the competitors, called "interconnect companies", sold them. So  
telecom managers (and I was one for a time) did a fiscal make/buy  
analysis to convince the money folks which way to go.

The first few years of interconnect were unimpressive. My college needed  
a PBX for its new campus, so ca. 1973 they bought an Oki 500 crossbar.  
No worse than Bell's, but still electromechanical. Electronic PBXs were  
about to hit, though, and most were digital. Harris Digital Telephone  
Systems came out with one ca. 1974, using a primitive form of delta  
modulation. Rolm entered the market ca. 1975 with its CBX. That used 144  
kbps PCM, 12 bits linear @12 kHz, because it was cheaper to build those  
filters than the ones needed for already-standard (on D3 channel banks)  
64 kbps PCM.

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That would be true of Rolm, in some applications. By 1976, the Nortel
SL-1, using 64 kbps standard codecs, one per line, was out. It didn't
have many features on analog phones, but its proprietary SL-1 set did.
The SL-1 also introduced Remote Peripheral Equipment, a remote line
shelf connected by a pair of T1 lines. This was great for companies
with multiple sites around town, and was a good match for the new
digital microwave systems coming out. Prime Computer (anyone remember
them?) put in a bunch of microwave-linked RPE in the 1970s.

But Ma Bell was behind. It introduced Dimension, an *analog*
electronic switch. Its backplane had 64 (or 128 on the D2000) time
slots, and the voltage on each was the analog signal from one call. It
had a pretty long feature list, but they were lumped in different
Feature Packages, with different rental prices. D400 was the base
unit. D2000 was multiple buses with (analog) links between them. D100
was a compact package variant on the D400. It was controlled by a
proprietary minicomputer (D2000's being faster than D400's). It worked
okay but its main marketing push was "we're Ma Bell and you don't need
a capital request to install it." But they did have long-term
contracts, as long as 12 years (two-tier, then VTPP, rates).

I installed a Rolm LCBX at BBN ca. 1979. It had a ton of "star code"
features. The very technical crowd at BBN used them a lot. I later
installed a bunch of them at DEC. The station features saw much less
use there. In DEC's last years, it was mostly a Nortel shop. They had
a few multi-building SL-100s. Those were DMS-100 digital COs
configured as PBXs.

Ma Bell designed a digital version of Dimension, code-named Antelope,
in the late 1970s. But they kept it off market until 1983, when it was
off tariff, and it became System 85. This was their big PBX. The
smaller System 75 was a newer design. These had a long life span in
the market.


Fred R. Goldstein      k1io     fred "at" ionary.com

Re: Re: [telecom] Finger Pointing
On Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 11:33:31 AM UTC-4, Fred Goldstein wrote:

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Would you have the exact citation for the book?  I'd like to see if
it's on worldcat.org


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According to the Bell Labs records, Bell introduced several PBX's in
its last years just before Divestiture (at various points).  The
internals varied.

On the low-end, several new key systems were introduced that allowed
small PBX users to switch over to a key system.  This included the
Comkey 416, the Comkey 718 series, Horizon, and Merlin.

Our office had a Comkey 718 and it was pretty slick.

On the PBX side, the new systems had plug-in units to allow easy
growth and feature flexibility.  Instead of hard wiring new selectors
or wired logic, they'd just pop in circuit cards to provide a specific
optional service feature or more capacity.

Some of the newer PBX's included:

  770A PBX 40 to 400 stations, multiple features

  800A up to 80 stations, basic or advanced service and traffic load

  801A up to 40 trunks, 270 stations, mid range system

  805A up to 18 trunks, 57 stations  low cost basic system

  812A up to 2000 lines advanced system

  No. 101 ESS remote switching; full services.

What anyone recall how these Bell PBX's compared in terms of price,
performance, and reliability against independent systems-- from the
point of view of the customer?  (I don't think customers cared whether
the PBX was digital or analog, indeed, if it was electro-mechanical or
electronic.  They wanted reliability and a good price.)


My only experience with non Bell systems was very limited. I knew of
only one company who bought in a non-Bell PBX pre-1983.  The price
saving was substantial.  But the PBX was not reliable and eventually
had to be removed.

I once came across an _old_ Kellogg PBX.  I thought it was built very
poorly compared to equivalent Bell PBX's.  But it may not have been a
fair comparison.

In the 1960s, Automatic Electric acquired the Leich Company which sold
PBX's.  I don't know how good they were.  Here are some catalogs.
(This is earlier than our discussion, but shown for comparative


(see pg 84:)

Re: Re: [telecom] Finger Pointing
On 10/13/2018 4:35 PM, HAncock4 wrote:
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Almost certainly not there. It was called Dimension PBX and  
Alternatives, and was put together by Economics & Technology Inc., a  
small consulting firm that I was working for. They didn't "publish" the  
book in the usual sense, but distributed it as a "report" at a rather  
higher price.

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Those were electronic key telephone systems (EKTS), replacements for the  
relay-based 1A2 key systems that had been ubiquitous. They had some PBX  
features though.

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IIRC the 770 was an electromechanical crossbar. It may have had some  
solid-state components in its marker, but I never had my hands on one.  
This predated computer control.

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These were again pre-computer semi-electronic analog systems. By 1980  
they were dinosaurs.

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Otherwise known as the Edsel of the Bell System. This was a remote  
module hung off of a 1ESS, with an analog switch matrix. The idea (ca.  
late 1960s) was that computers themselves were really, really expensive,  
so the processor in the 1ESS would be timeshared to run some 101s too,  
for Centrex-CU service, mostly. It didn't work worth a hoot'n'holler and  
the few that were installed were, AFAIK, pulled pretty quickly.

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All of those were totally uncompetitive with the stuff that began to  
come out ca. 1975, when computerized machines took off. Some of the  
earliest "interconnect" PBXs were fine machines too -- recall that the  
"independent" telcos didn't buy from WECo, so there were other  
suppliers, like GTE Automatic Electric, ITT, Stromberg-Carlson, and  
Northern Electric (later Nortel) that interconnects could buy from.

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Not a good sample. Maybe they had an early Tele-Resources TR/32. That  
was a small analog PBX that didn't hold up well. Or some similar stuff.  
But by 1983 there was a ton of good non-Bell stuff. From 1980 to 1985 I  
was DEC's "interconnect guy", in their corporate telecom dept., ordering  
the non-Bell PBXs; they had been a Bell shop with a ton of Dimensions  
put in between 1976 and 1980. I followed the market quite closely.  
Plenty of good stuff out there from Nortel, Rolm, Mitel, and others.

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That was an old-line "indie" brand, gone by the late 1970s. ITT may have  
owned them at the end.

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Leich was another old-line vendor to the indies. I think its specialty  
was the LXP-4 "All Relay" small CO switch, which in the mid-century  
competed with Strowgers for some rural markets. But it was from an era  
that long predated "interconnect" and competitive PBXs.

There's a long story about Antelope, which became System 85, but it  
doesn't fit here, and I'm not expert on it.


Fred R. Goldstein      k1io     fred "at" ionary.com

Re: [Telecom] Finger Pointing
On Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 3:31:55 PM UTC-4, Fred Atkinson wrote:
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Unfortunately, soon after Divestiture, many telecom businesses-- new
and old--changed their operating philosophy and consumers suffered as
a result.

As a regulated monopoly, Bell was more engineering oriented and tended
to work hard for very high service standards.  We all know their gear
lasted forever and generally their people were well trained and
helpful.  (There were some exceptions over the years and in some

But after Divestiture, AT&T and the Baby Bells were now marketing
companies.  They were out to make a buck.  Suddenly, engineering took
a back seat to profit, and a fast profit at that.  Cost- cutting
became a priority.  Sales was a priority.  Many dedicated well-trained
professional staff were replaced with salespeople on commission.  They
didn't know anything about "ground start" nor did they care.  They
wanted you to buy something and buy it now.  Staff turnover was high.
This of course all applied to the newcomer carriers and suppliers as
well.  The exceptions were a few folks who knew what they were doing
and could get something done.  But for the customer, it was very
frustrating trying to get along until a competent person was found.

Fwd: [telecom] Finger Pointing
Begin forwarded message:

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     My experience was that the frustration was around long before

     I generally found telco persons (not all) to be arrogant, display an 'I
know more than you know' attitude, and [generally] not really be listening to
their customers.  Many times the answer they would give me clearly
demonstrated that they didn't really hear what I said or asked.

     Higher engineering standards, yes.  But at the price of a totalitarian

     Bell didn't seem to understand that the PSTN belonged to the public as
they were the ones footing the bill.

     If you were not satisfied with the result or the overall service, you had
nowhere else to go.

     Many times I wasn't satisfied at all.  But I had no recourse other than
to escalate through the PSC.

     Once I had other options (post divestiture), that changed.  They were
generally more receptive than before.  But not all the time.  Sometimes I took
the other provider instead when I couldn't get a resolution from them.

     Sometimes I escalated through the PSC.  That was drastic.  But it worked
when all else failed.

     Today, we have many options.  That's a good thing.


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