I know this is a total newbie question, but I see many switches which have more than one area code, where those numbers are not local to each other, even though they seem to be on the same physical switch.
For example switch NWORLAMODS0 in New Orleans houses the 985-801 exchange as well as 504-212, according to localcallingguide.com.
Rate centre New Orleans, LA Covington, LA Rate centre V/H 08483/02638 08383/02692 LATA 490 490 Distance* 36 miles 58 km Local call+ N
Or does a number being on the switch irrevelant with number portability? Or is there something else I'm missing?
I think the US should keep the old circuit switched system around for hospitals, 911 and other emergency services, and eliminate long distance altogether.
Then, there are the metro end-office switches that are rated both for the community in which they are located and they also contain a downtown rated office code to keep down an otherwise high demand for FEX service.
These may have all but died out by now. But, they were a hot item in the Los Angeles area for many years.
For decades certain urban city switches handled nearby suburban exchanges, even though the suburban exchange had different calling plans and was in a different rate center.
Today we can have a situation where a single area code covers multiple LATAs. People can dial with only 7 digits, but it is handled and charged as a long distance call when crossing the LATA. Of course today we [have] many places where two neighbors will have two different area codes, and we have legacy situations where a cross- LATA call between two adjacent exchanges (against the border) are handled as a local call.
Keep in mind that many local and short-haul toll calling plans are based on ancient legacy practices. While there might not be physical message-unit registers connected by timer-relay to a phone line, the billing remains the same in certain areas.
Today many people have unlimited domestic long distance on their home land line. When I was a kid, that concept was laughable, outward WATS lines were terribly expensive and only for large companies. I wonder what percentage of homes [have] that service today. I bet quite a few; it's not that expensive.
I have Vonage since its inception. It is used for my consulting service and also for all toll outgoing calls for my wife and myself. (our AT&T wireline phone is toll blocked.) We live in the 949 area code of coastal Southern California. But, my primary Vonage number is in area code 202 in Washington, DC, thus a cross-nation FEX line of sorts, with outward WAAS thrown in.
Think what this would have cost in the legacy days. Somewhere around $4,000 or $5,000 a month in 1970 dollars.
Vonage also includes toll-free to Canada and 60 foreign countries (and counting).
My wife can now call her good friend in Kyoto, Japan as casually as she calls someone two blocks away.
This is indeed impressive. So, where are the cost savings that allow such dramatically lower costs?
On the FEX, I guess that in the 1970s, they would have nailed down a circuit across the country for your use. That would indeed be expensive. They could have brought up the circuit only when needed (like an 800 number) for substantial savings.
Between yesterday and today, of course, bandwidth costs have been dramatically reduced. Data compression also allows lower bitrates for voice. POTS has access to the lower bandwidth costs and could, I suppose, use compression. POTS, of course, uses circuit switched instead of packet switched, so the circuit is dead in one direction about half the time (remember TASI?). So, there is some additional cost savings there. But even then, POTS costs are considerably above Vonage or other VoIP services. Is the difference in bandwidth usage (dedicated 64kbps in each direction for POTS versus bursts for VoIP)? Is it regulatory? Why the big difference? In both cases, we're just transmitting bits.
Fiber offers multiple orders of magnitude more bandwidth than anything made of copper, and modern computer technology makes switches vastly smaller and cheaper than the early electronic switches.
This has nothing to do with VoIP. The long distance service on my landline charges 10 cpm to Japan and 5 cpm to most of Europe, and I could find better rates if I used it to make a lot of international calls. (I also have a Lingo VoIP phone that includes Europe in the monthly minute bundle.) My prepaid Tracfone lets me call Japan and Europe for the same 10 cpm they charge for domestic calls.
There is [such] a huge amount of surplus bandwidth that is costs almost nothing; companies like Level III which sell to other carriers have huge networks that, because of the way business is, are not getting used, so the price goes down. Ten years ago they built several hubs, I worked on the one in LA and from what I have seen it is less then 50% in use.
I have unlimited long distance and never really make it pay, but it had brought down the costs of other services that are bundled.
For a while, 712-366 and 402-359 (Council Bluffs - Manawa and Valley, NE) were hosted remotely off of the 84th St. office in Omaha and were indeed toll calls from each other. At the time they were both toll-free from 84th. St. subs but true toll calls, charged by the minute, between the two.
A couple years ago the calling area was expanded and the
402-359 prefix was added to the Omaha rate center, so now they are a local call between them.
I also vaguely remember that the Floral Park CO, very close to the Queens-Nassau border hosted (then) 212-343 as well as some 516 prefixes. I forget the exact details, as there was 'zone calling' in effect at the time, but I do remember that (then) 212-343 was a local call from me, but some of the prefixes out of that same office were a more expensive call from me at the time. This was early 1970s, and I'm straining to dust off rusty memory cells to remember the exact details. IIRC, Floral Park was 5 Xbar at the time.
My original home town of Perry, Oklahoma, is the home of Ditch Witch and they were selling their machines like mad a few years ago during the fiber rush. They the industry discovered they had more fiber than they could use for many years, much of it idle, and demand for Ditch Witches suddently fell off and Ditch Witch put over 1,000 employees on furlough. Wes Leatherock firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Today, if an AT$T wireline customer in California wants just Caller ID, it's an astounding $9 per month.
Vonage bundles it, and many other features, in their basic unlimited service, as do other VOIPs and the wireless carriers.
In California I suspect the AT&T wireline unit (Pacific Bell) must be hurting these days.
Is wireline going to self-destruct?
***** Moderator's Note *****
That's a _very_ good question. When I worked at N.E.T., I would have laughed at the idea, but I wonder if the baby bells, or in fact _any_ of the ILECs, can adapt to the changing telecom world.
The Engineer in me wants to predict that the system will reach equilibrium when the ILECs lose enough customers to force them to cut rates, but that's not likely. I grow more and more convinced that wire-line service will fade to the point where there's not enough revenue to maintain it.
You might think that business users, who are still mostly in the wire-line camp, will demand wire-line because they depend on their existing phone systems and networks so heavily. That dependence, however, will lead them to seek and adopt alternatives to wire-line, such as VoIP, because wire-line costs will rise as home users abandon it for cellular. It will become a vicious circle, with decreasing revenues driving lower maintence and higher adoption of alternatives.
At some point, there will have to be another political debate about the value of universal service: remember that it has always been subsidized by high-profit offerings, and that such offerings are facing competition from more agile, lower-margin CLECs. This comes at the same time that demand for long-distance is decreasing (due, I think, to email use), and also at the same time that business users become more aware of viable alternative services which offer dramatic cost savings over traditional circuit-switched long-distance.
The end result is that ILECs will be very tempted to allow wire-line to wither on the vine, favoring high-profit cellular users and "gotta have it" business customers, both of whom can be served by the robust infrastructures of the cities, while low-profit, high-maintenance ex-urban copper paths are left to rust.
I believe that is why AT&T and Verizon are pushing U-verse and FIOS both are VOIP services which cost almost nothing to maintain. The only cost will be the copper and that is now starting to be replaced [by] fiber.
AT&T spent a whole day out at my house, an MTech as well as 2 Core techs working on my house wiring as well as replacing my 30 year old drop, 10 bad splices and 11 more bridge taps. My DSL is now running at 5.4 MH on a 6MH circuit and it is down to 55% from 95%. I was also told that they plan on now installing another U-Verse Node and [will] replace the old lead cable; they say that we will have U-verse in the first 3 months of next year. The fiber is there: all they have to do it engineer and place the Node. I have no idea if it was my complaint to the PUC last Thursday or the 15 times they were out here in the last 3 months. I have never seen the PUC act that fast. The Core Manager with AT&T told me that one reason is that I'm an active CO Tech with 40 years on the job and clearly wording the complaint with the PUC right down to what I thought the problem was. If they had been honest with me on the problem and not having someone who had any idea call me and give me the company line about I'm too far out for U-verse and told me it was a cable problem that were working on the complaint would never had been filed. Now I have to work with some of these same people doing work for them installing CO equipment, at least for now I'm doing work for Verizon.
-- The only good spammer is a dead one!! Have you hunted one down today? (c) 2009 I Kill Spammers, Inc., A Rot in Hell. Co.
"We're just transmitting bits." Sure, if you ignore the last-mile costs -- the cost of constructing, owning, operating, and maintaining the analog outside plant and the cost of providing operating power for the customer's telephone.
ILECs have to pay these costs while Vonage (and VOIP providers generally) avoid these costs by riding on the internet connections and the electrical power that customers purchase separately. That's a substantial part of the "big difference."
We've had this discussi > The end result is that ILECs will be very tempted to allow > wire-line to wither on the vine, favoring high-profit cellular > users and "gotta have it" business customers, both of whom can > be served by the robust infrastructures of the cities, while > low-profit, high-maintenance ex-urban copper paths are left to > rust.
So how will all those ex-urban customers get telephone service? Will the entire country eventually get wired for high-speed internet service and five-bar cellular service, so we can all switch to VOIP or cell?
Perhaps it will. Perhaps the feds will provide enough stimulus funding to pay for it.
I don't discount the fact that federal and state regulatory bodies have contributed to all this. But the fact remains that somebody has to pay the last-mile costs, and one way or another, that somebody is us. Neal McLain
***** Moderator's Note *****
Not to put to fine a point in it, but ...
... the ex-urban customers don't generate enough income to make ILECs want to keep them. I don't know if alternatives will emerge, but I think wire-line service will go away. Remember that wire-line is maintenance intensive, and ILECs are facing increasing costs for their increasingly old and unionized work force. The net (pun intended) result is likely to be benign neglect: as service quality goes down, more ex-urban users will grit their teeth and buy a cellphone.
It used to be that "home" users were a dependable profit center for ILECs, where the majority of such customers payed "fixed" monthly bills to avoid the uncertainty of message-unit charges. No longer: compared to the huge profits from cell users, who pay for
*everything*, *every**time* they use it, and who pay for maintenance, and who think that poor voice quality, drop-outs, and picket-fencing are the way telephones are _supposed_ to sound, wire-line customers are a drag on the market. The cellular divisions of the major ILECs are mostly non-union, and the cellular infrastructure is mostly erected and maintained by contractors who can be thrown away as easily as an old cellphone.
While I suspect that fiber costs at least as much to install as copper and the installation is far more complicated than POTS service (almost nothing else is as simple as plugging a telephone into a jack, and it rarely requires configuration adjustment ) the point of the new facilities is not so much to reduce the costs but rather to increase revenue. This is the new monopoly M.O.: when you have near-100% market saturation and can't expand your territory, your increase revenue by offering higher priced services. (The old monopoly philosophy was to increase revenue by embracing costs and using them to justify rate increases, but competition has undermined that somewhat.)
These are all very important points, especially the last sentence. _Somebody_ has to pay the costs of the "last mile", and they are expensive.
While it is true that many people have Internet connections, it is also true a great many people do not nor have any interest in them. (Every public library I've ever been in has public PCs and they are heavily used.)
What will complicate matters in the future is that various communication modes that once were separate are today blended together. The playing field constantly changes. Today we have Verizon pushing its FIOS which also provides TV system, and cable companies pushing telephone service. How it will play out is very hard to see.
Keep in mind that a particular technology eventually levels off. There isn't much investment today to improve AM radio receivers and broadcast equipment and phonograph records and players since people have switched to FM and satellite and CDs/Ipods for music.
I wouldn't rule out legacy wireline phone services just yet; I think they'll be around for a long time to come.
The phone companies have evolved tremendously since the old days. They use sub-contractors and their old unionized workforces have shrunk dramatically. Service bureaus and business offices have been centralized many miles from the actual town of service. At the same time local service rates are up.
For decades people said the IBM mainframe was a dinosaur and dead, but to this day mainframe products remain an important part of IBM's total revenue base. Not as much as the past, but still important.
As mentioned above, someone _still_ has to provide the last mile, and the legacy phone companies are in an extremely strong position to do so, whether by ancient copper lines or modern fibre. Note that running wires through developed areas requires legal finese and skill which the legacy companies have.
I have a friend that lives up in the mountains East of Sacramento, Calif. she can't get DSL, no digital cable and Satellite is an expensive option and it is only 1.3 MH for over $200.00 a month plus equipment. I was talking to the AT&T Core Manager who got the PUC I had filed and he did some searching for me and found out that they are planning to install U-verse up there sometime near the end of next year. They have fiber in place that was placed there for the Forest Service and it is no longer being used, plus a new Metro was just installed so they might not only get U-verse, but Fiber to the door. That area is at the edge of snow sports.
+--------------- | > ... the ex-urban customers don't generate enough income to make ILECs | > want to keep them. | | Sure we do. You put money into the USF fund, it then pays lavish | subsidies for us rustics. Thanks! .... | ***** Moderator's Note ***** | | That should be "_we_ rustics". | | Bill Horne | Moderator
Actually, it shouldn't. "Us" is correct in the position in which John used it, the object of a preposition: "pays ... for us ...".
....unless you're trying to make some joke equating rustic with being poor at grammar.