Re: [telecom] Number length, was Goodbye to copper? [Telecom]

And for those scratching their head about "billing location", I mean

> the cellphone-equivalent location of a CO for toll-charge > determination.

A "rate center," which may or may not be the location of a CO.

Wes Leatherock

Reply to
Loading thread data ...

Thank you for the terminology clarification! Learn something new every day -- that's why I've been mostly a lurker here for several decades. :-)

Reply to
Thad Floryan

A number of years ago, my cell phone carrier used a community as a rate center that was served by a central office in a neighboring community. I never understood the point of that. Rate center is an artificial concept to begin with, so why make interconnecting telephone companies make an unnecessary additional entry into their rating tables?

Rate centers were an attempt to impose inapplicable concepts of rating land line calls onto cell phones. In land lines, there is allegedly some relationship between pricing and routing of a call, but to call a cell phone from a land line, the actual interface between the two carriers could be anywhere. Cell phone providers really only needed one rate center per market they were selling service in, because really, their subscribers would be unaware of the concept and wouldn't care and wouldn't know to ask for a number associated with a specific rate center.

Cell phone rate centers were used strictly for the purpose of rating inbound calls from land line subscribers local to that rate center who themselves didn't subscribe to a local service plan that was unrated with respect to distance.

When cell phones plans had local calling areas and long distance billed by a carrier of the subscriber's choice, I assume rate centers weren't used to rate distance, but instead a single point in the metropolitan area was used to rate the origin of long distance calls. But that may have varied.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

Not exactly. In the early days of cellphones it was different. Subscribers did have to pay for long distance and extra-charge roaming territories were much smaller. The assigned rate center of the phone was significant. It did make sense, because of the cell subscriber was far away from his home exchange he had to pay roaming for the call.

Now of course things are much different--charges for roaming or long distance in the U.S. are rare.

Reply to

It went in increments. In 1984 all long distance calls were toll. All roaming was toll.

The, roaming within California's wireless carrier's territory was no longer toll.

Then, you could cross boundaries of the wireless carrier's territories without the call dropping off.

And, so on and so forth.

My second vehicle to have an AMPs phone was the "ultimate." By then you could get a full-power 0.1 to 3.0 watts bag phone. I had a roof-mount perfectly cut antenna on that vehicle (an off-road SUV so the antenna looked "normal.") I could really reach out with that set up.

On a long trip in that car my techie teen-age son has a scanner and would find every one of my calls. ;-)

Reply to
Sam Spade

The concepts of "rate center" and "roaming" aren't related. If on the edge of territory and the subscriber had the misfortune to have his call picked up by a tower for which roaming charges would be imposed, he'd have to pay them even if his assigned rate center happened to be in the same area. Rate center is a concept for distance rating of local calls from land lines only. Roaming is a time and physical location concept. Rate Center isn't the basis of rating long distance calls anyway.

"Rate center" is a concept strictly applicable to rating local calls from land lines for distance charges. It doesn't apply to rating long distance calls for distance which, in metropolitan areas at least, were always calculated between given points within a consolidation of rate centers. Sorry, I don't recall the correct term. This had some relation to how long distance calls were routed, as they had to be handed off to toll offices for completion.

If a cell phone subscriber has a local plan, calls within the plan's area are never rated for distance, only time. Therefore, "rate center" has no application whatsoever to rating cell phone calls.

When a long distance call was made from a cell phone, it was handed off to a long distance provider. I recall having to make a choice among four long distance providers. These calls were rated for distance, but like long distance calls made from land lines, never rated between rate centers themselves. To rate a long distance call from a cell phone for distance, the call's origin need be a single point in the metropolitan area the caller happens to be standing in.

Few subscribers to cell phone service would have had any idea what a rate center was, so there was never a need for a cellular provider to offer prefixes in each rate center, or even most rate centers, in a market they were signing up customers in. Cellular providers were not competing on the basis of who had the most rate centers and subscribers wouldn't even consider any distance-related cost imposed on land line subscribers making distance-rated local calls to the cell phone number.

Furthermore, new subscribers were assigned to rate centers seemingly randomly, never on the basis of billing address. One might live in the northern suburbs and not be assigned to a nearby rate center, instead being assigned to a rate center in the western, eastern, or southern suburbs or even in the central city. If a subscriber knew to ask AND the salesman knew how to write up the request, yeah, one could choose a rate center, but this would be an unusual situation.

Furthermore still, cellular providers used area code-prefix combinations of any area code in that metropolitan area for rate centers, ignoring area code boundaries within the metropolitan area that land line providers would generally obey. It's possible that a cellular provider could have assigned area code and prefix combinations for area codes outside the metropolitan area, but I'll assume this wasn't done.

Rate center assignment of cell phone numbers was exceedingly wasteful of scarce numbering resources. If this had to be done, then the line numbers should have been assigned neutrally from area code/prefix combinations already in use for land lines at that rate center, but I don't see why this had to be done at all. Each cell phone provider should have used a single rate center per metropolitan area, allowed to assign numbers in any area code in the metropolitan area without geographic restrictions, with incoming calls from landlines rated without a distance component.

And no, I wouldn't have favored cellular only area codes as attempted in New York, which fails to address the only issue that incoming local calls from land lines shouldn't have been distance-rated.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

Actually, I believe they made a point of assigning the serving exchange location in the middle, not on the edges, to avoid that problem.

Under the system that existed at the time, it all made sense.

But as mentioned, the point is moot since roaming and long distance charges on cell phones today are very rare.

Reply to

For the fifth time, the subscriber wasn't expected to know his rate center. Cell phone companies did not assign subscribers to rate centers based on where the subscriber was expected to travel nor where he was billed. In a market, one rate center was very much the same as another, each subject to exactly the same local calling area, each subject to roaming at the same locations in the days before national plans were common.

Rate centers weren't used to market services to potential subscribers. Subscribers were generally unaware. Rate centers weren't used to rate long distance calls. Rate centers led to unreasonable consumption of scarce numbering resources.

It was an unreasonable thing to do at the time.

hancock, as you repeated the same incorrect statements, you missed the point that the concepts are generally unrelated. Having numerous rate centers in a local calling area was not necessary to assign a cell phone subscriber to that particular local calling area and weren't the basis for rating long distance calls.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

In places like Chicago with large local calling areas, I agree that you don't care which of umpteen rate centers that are all local to each other you were assigned to.

On the other hand, my first two cellular accounts on my AMPS car phone were in Massachusetts and Vermont, where local calling areas are quite small. I lived in Cambridge, and if they'd given me a Waltham rather than a Boston number, it would have been a relatively expensive message unit call to call my mobile. In Vermont, if they'd assigned me in Burlington rather than White River Junction, it would have been a very expensive intra-state toll call rather than a free local call from our cottage near Woodstock. I assure you, we cared in which rate center our number was assigned.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

Back in the day before cheap toll service most subscribers most certainly did know what rate center they were in, what constituted a short-haul toll or message unit call. and how to keep such costs under control. Affluent residential subscribers would get metro packages or a second FX line to a nearby place with a different calling area. (See other posts in this thread). Business would often get second lines in a similar fashion.

Yes they did. For instance, Mrs. X did not want a toll or message unit charge to call her husband on his cell phone. (see other posts in this thread).

Back in the day a person's telephone exchange was a very personal item. Just going to ANC raised a ruckus. Until fairly recently people were very sensitive as to the exchange they were assigned.

Now it doesn't matter since calling is so cheap and many people metro area plans.

No, they were not. In a big city, exchanges were grouped into zones (indeed, they still are), but what zone one was in determined one's message unit charges. In suburban areas, if you put someone too far away it's a short haul toll call.

Rate centers were not used for marketing, true. But subscribers were aware, per above. Rate centers determined the cost of toll calls, particularly short haul toll calls.

Reply to

When pre-paid Call Paks in the Chicago area first went away, intraLATA calling beyond 15 miles of your land line's rate center was rated for distance. But you had to know to ask for a number in a specific rate center if you were trying to avoid land line charges from likely callers, such as your kids calling from the pay phone at elementary school.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

See my actual comment that a provider would honor a subscriber's request, but without any such request, the subscriber would be assigned to a rate center in the metropolitan area randomly.

hancock, I do wish you'd follow up to my actual comments.

In your zeal to take my remarks out of context, you might have gleaned that I was referring to rate centers the cell phone subscriber's number was assigned to, as I used "roaming" and "national plans" in that sentence.

Is the dawn breaking yet?

Only the ones who asked. If the subscriber didn't ask for a specific rate center, he didn't understand the concept or didn't think about the cost of distance-rated local calls from their potential callers.

If a metropolitan area had multiple rate centers, each individual rate center wasn't used to rate a long-distance call for distance. It's a pointless exercise to rate separately the distance of a long distance call to one rate center versus a neighboring rate center as both calls would rate in the same distance band, as long distance was typically tariffed. Instead, multiple rate centers were grouped into a cluster (I cannot recall the correct name) that used a common point from which long distance calls were distance rated.

With cell phone service, more often than not the entire metropolitan area was in a single such cluster.

Rate centers weren't used to rate long-distance calls for distance. It's utterly pointless to continue to claim that cell phone providers needed to offer phone numbers in multiple rate centers in the same metropolitan area for the purpose of rating long distance calls for distance, when long distance calls from a subscriber's cell phone would have been rated from a single point in the metropolitan area anyway, no matter which rate center his cell phone number was assigned to.

I've explained this several times. Would you be so kind as to acknowledge that each individual rate center in metropolitan areas wasn't used for the distance rating of long distance calls to or from cell phones so this discussion may be dropped?


Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

I do not agree that that was done.

Most people _did_ know about those things back then and kept them in mind.

Back then phone bills were simple and things like message units or short haul toll calls stood out. Most people were sensitive to them. TV shows and newspaper cartoons often poked fun at the huge phone bills teenagers ran up.

Sorry, that is not correct. For short haul billing, whether by message units or cheap toll rates (a few cents per minute), it went down to the exchange level. For example, say you were north of a big city. If you called a neighborhood on the north side you would be charged less than if you called the south side.

In _recent_ years such charges have been reduced.

For long haul long distance, they did clump exchanges into zones, a system still in use today.

See Mr. Bonomi's post about Chicago.

For the cell phone user making outgoing calls yes, but for those calling cell phones, no. Trust me, I paid quite a bit for calls to cell phones I thought would not be toll but were. (I even had to pay for unanswered calls, that is, after a few rings a recording came on to say the party wasn't available; that was counted as a "completed call".)

Sorry, but that's the way it was. Again, see Mr. B's post.

As mentioned, when Mr. X got a cell phone, he wanted Mrs. X to be able to call him free, so the assignment of his cellphone exchange was significant. He did _not_ want across town to run up message units or short haul toll charges.

I'm sorry but I don't agree. I know what message unit and short haul toll charges we had to pay back in those days and how exchange dependent they were.

But I will agree that the discussion is moot since many landline phones and most cellphones are not as distance sensitive as they were back then.

Reply to

Wow. I say "long distance", and you keep ignoring what I write, insisting on changing the conversation back to distance-rated local calls. I haven't commented on distance-rated local calls. I keep mentioning this but you keep ignoring it.

Isn't that what I wrote?

I've avoided using the term "exchange" whose meaning has become ambiguous over time. Rate center has a clear meaning in tariff.

For the 2,723rd time, that applies only to land line callers making distance-rated local calls, but not to land line callers making long distance calls to that cell phone number.

Unfortunately, cell phone providers didn't feel obliged to implement concepts of supervision to play nicely with the much larger foreign network.

That's an example of a subscriber who requested assignment.

Of course you don't agree because you refuse to read what I write as I write it and instead assume I've written something different. No matter how many times I tell you that you failed to correctly interpret what I wrote, you continue with your same misinterpretation.

It's always a mistake on my part to assume that you'll ever read what I've written as I wrote it.

Of course you'll agree with something I never wrote to begin with.

What you actually mean is that you agree with yourself.

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

OK, ladies and gentlemen, fun's fun, but play nice, ok?

IIRC, each exchange was assigned a V&H coordinate, which was used to rate LD calls. Is that still the case?


Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

Let me embellish this, for the plan you describe was implemented pre-divestiture, so there was no concept of LATA in tariff.

There were significant changes in local call plans in 1982. Before that, the plans were a hodgepodge and certain sections of the metropolitan area had different choices than other sections. Most areas had choices among measured service with units, a pre-paid local calling area with either units for calls to the rest of the metropolitan area (time and distance rated) or a larger pre-paid local calling area with calls beyond rated at in-state long distance rates, higher than message unit rates.

For callers who needed even larger prepaid local calling areas, they could subscribe to service in any of three areas: all rate centers in a 25 mile arc of the Loop, all within a 40 mile arc, and the limit of Illinois Bell territory (approximately a 50 mile arc around downtown Chicago) although it included pockets of foreign territory of Centel Des Plaines-Park Ridge-O'Hare-Newcastle and GTE Wonder Lake. But distance rated local calls within 50 miles but beyond 25 miles or 40 miles were billed on in state long distance rates.

In some cases, arcs of territory were available to subscribers in outlying parts of the metropolitan area. For instance, Waukegan had its own choices of plans for prepaid calling within a 15 mile arc and 25 mile arc of downtown Waukegan.

Beyond the 50 mile arc, every call was in-state long distance. All interstate calls were interstate long distance with a handful of exceptions for certain south suburbs near the state line calling into northwest Indiana and Antioch calling into North Antioch, Wisconsin (a small unincorporated area wired to the Antioch switch).

When LATAs were imposed two years later, the LATA included the territory in the 50 mile arc. But the LATA had the unfortunate effect of including North Antioch and northwest Indiana into the LATA without any interstate intra-LATA rates comparable to in-state intra-LATA rates for local calling. Even if a caller pre-subscribed for inter-LATA calling, that carrier didn't complete interstate intra-LATA calls unless the caller knew to use the carrier access code. Generally, the uncompetitve long distance charges for interstate inter-LATA were higher than competitive interstate calls to either coast.

I have no idea how inter-carrier compensation worked let alone charges to terminate calls. Cell phone subscribers didn't see those charges, for their plans defined a very large local calling area with calls rated for time, never distance.

The concept of competition for pre-subscribed intra-LATA toll carriers on Illinois Bell land lines is from, what, mid '90's? At that point, we had another change in local calling rates.

Between 1982 and the mid '90's, calls from each rate center were subject to one of three distance rating bands. A was 8 miles. Calls from residential numbers were untimed, but timed from business. B was 8 to 15 miles, timed. C was over 15 miles. There were also time of day charges. Peak was calls during the middle of the business day, shoulder peak at the beginning and end of the business day and right around lunch time, and off peak (nights and weekends).

Calls were still rated in units for a couple of years, perhaps for transition terminology since so many of the old rate plans had unit charges, but this didn't make sense as new fractional unit charges for time of day were introduced and it made rate calculation too complicated. By 1985 or 1986, there were no more references to units.

After the mid '90's, the three calling bands were eliminated. A and B were merged into an untimed calling area for residential, or in some plans, a pre-paid calling area. Former Band C was now competitive, so subject to presubscription and whatever your carrier's in state long distance rates were. But this still left the problem of North Antioch and northwest Indiana if your presubscribed intraLATA toll provider was SBC/Illinois Bell.

I don't know if this is a correct statement. Cell phone providers had to declare rate centers to be assigned prefixes for 10,000-block pools of line numbers, but I've never read that interfacing with the LEC at each rate center was a pre-requisite for declaring a rate center. Wouldn't one point of interface per rate center be a needless amount of equipment to maintain for traffic needs?

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

The _original_ was implemented way back then, yup. What I was talking about was essentially current -- from dealing with the swamp for business telecom as recently as 4 years ago.

[ snip accurate historical detail ]

Early 90's, I think. It was in place before I was dealing with telecom mgmt.

There is/was a fourth band 'D', as well. I don't remember the distance boundary for it -- it was in the 30-45 mile range. Wasn't a whole lot of 'D' traffic unless you were calling 'clear across' the metro area., e.g. north suburbs to far south suburbs.

Sorry, that's _NOT_ true. I had a fight with AT&T last year (spring 2008) over the matter. AT*T pay phone advertising 'unlimited-length local calls' for the initial 50 cent coin drop. Got a 'please deposit more money' demand after 3 minutes on a circa 10-mile call. After much discussion with multiple operators, it turns out that those 'untimed' local calls are 'band A' (less than 8 miles) *ONLY*. Band B (8-15) mile calls are still timed for that use.

Nit: band C and D.

"yeah but" applies. It's not so much as for interfacing with the LEC, as with the various IXCs. For an IXC to get paid for delivering a call _to_ that rate center, the IXC has to deliver *TO* that rate center. If they deliver it "somewhere else", they will expect to get paid for delivering it somewhere else (i.e. that other rate center). This is, to belabor the obvious, the _definition_ of a rate center -- by definition, one could say. :) the wireless carrier may be willing to 'eat' the cost of the back-haul from 'distant' interface to the the actual rate-center locale, but the 'upstream' (presumably wireline) carrier who has to carry the call _past_ the rate-center to reach the interface point is -not- likely to look favorably on that 'excess' cost that they are incurring. That 'cost' issue will rear it's ugly head, regardless of whether the 'upstream' for the call is a IXC delivering a foreign call, or a LEC with a presence in that rate center. Thus the LECs do have a 'dog in that fight' (albeit a small one :) as well.

Sometimes the 'equipment cost' is a piddling amount, in the greater scheme of things.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

I don't recall Band D. Perhaps it applied to business. It didn't apply to residential, unless it's something I'd forgotten from the 1982-83 era.

I have a vague recollection of when pay phone rates were raised from 25 cents to 50 cents that for a few years, all local calls were 50 cents, untimed and not rated for distance. Later, they then went back to rating local calls to more distant locations for time and distance.

No, they never changed the labels, the bastards.

They are out of the pay phone business. A company called PTS took many of the pay phone locations, but didn't want all of them, so numerous places simply lost pay phones. This happened in 2008. PTS has been pretty slow to put its own labels on pay phones.

How does this apply given that we have no shortage of land line territory that is wired to a switch in one location but is rated at another location? As these are neighboring polygons, is the extra distance simply ignored?

What about a super switch like Hinsdale, through which other switches serving the western suburbs are routed? Wouldn't a location like this simply be used for interface among various networks? It would be utterly silly if every IXC attempted to co-locate in each switch associated with the uberswitch.

Ah, telecom. The paperwork costs far more than moving the electrons around.

Reply to
Adam H. Kerman

In my part of upstate New York, the only significant city in the LATA is Syracuse, and that's where every non-ILEC switch is. My mobile and VoIP numbers are both in the Ithaca rate center, and inbound callers pay whatever they pay for calls to any other Ithaca number, but the switches are both in Syracuse.

R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

It varies.

In the Philadelphia area, a few small locations were merged (Melrose Park (MElrose) and Cheltenham (ESsex) merged into Jenkintown (TUrner).)

As mentioned, in the Phila area the call bands still exist, 6 of them. Instead of "message units" it's now called "measured service". They give discounts for late night calls. But the basic principal is the same--instead of getting an itemized listing of every call with a charge of a nickel or dime, such calls are rolled up and listed as one line item on the bill. Many residential customers have plans that allow various grades of unlimited calling. The highest plan, Metropolitan service, costs almost as much as national unlimited, so many customers got national unlimited.

That's one reason message units were introduced. I believe in the early days they merely used relay logic to increment the message unit counter already assigned to lines.

But it's only been in the last few decades that the cost of moving electrons around has gotten that cheap. Interoffice trunks--both the physical wire and terminal equipment at each end--were enormously expensive to build _and_ maintain. Many times it was cheaper to run copper as opposed to multiplexing due to the high expense of terminal equipment. A great deal of effort went into engineering trunk capacity--just enough to meet high demand but not too much to be wasteful. The textbook has whole chapters on the math required. "Do we run direct from A to B or multiplex from A to C and then to B?"

Actually, despite capacity costs dropping in the 1970s, there was a counter trend to bill more by usage. Around that time they billed for directory assistance since that was becomming a high volume and thus high expense item. As mentioned here, some locations lost unlimited service and everyone had to take measured service, even with timing on local calls. (Phila did not change.) In the mid 1970s there were plans to increase such billing arrangements, and make use of better computers and AMA equipment. Bell Labs was working up such stuff.

What many people do not realize is that telephone costs dropped radically due to cheap technology. Say you have a $500 plain vanilla PC today. How much would it cost in 1975 to buy a computer with the same CPU horsepower, RAM, and disk? Then add in the air conditioning. The same drop in costs applied to telephone terminal and transmission equipment.

Reply to

Who (back-)hauls the traffic to what interchange point?

I figure it's _very_ likely that the wireless carrier has a minimal presence within the Ithaca rate center with trunk terminations. Don't need the switch there, just the hand-off to the other carrier(s).

This is one of those things where the 'implementation details' really don't matter to anybody *except* the bean-counters of the folks that are actually doing it. but -they- care a *lot*.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.