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40 Years After Carterphone Ended AT&T Equipment Monopoly

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the decision-rings-true dept.

Communications 132

fm6 writes "Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of the Carterfone Decision which brought to an end AT&T's monopoly on telephone terminal equipment. Ars Technica has an opinionated but informative backgrounder on this landmark, which pretty much created the telecommunications world as we currently know it."

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132 comments

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hey fags (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994093)

would you please soap up my balls for me? i swear to god i could ring a 2-liter of sweat from them...

I'm as straight as y = mx + c (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23996391)

and yet I'm strangely intrigued...

we're the phone company (5, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994095)

We don't care. We don't have to...

Now if only they would get rid of all those dial up lines for internet access in rural areas.

It's really amazing that phone companies still don't have mandatory minimal access levels for net access outside major metropolitan areas.

It's getting better, but oh so slow. And in those areas where there is little or no competition 28.8 is still the standard.

Re:we're the phone company (1, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994125)

It's really amazing that phone companies still don't have mandatory minimal access levels for net access outside major metropolitan areas.

For a solution to this problem google my sig.

Why? (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994177)

You don't know how to sign you name [google.com] ?

Re:we're the phone company (2, Interesting)

FLEB (312391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994333)

Why should they waste energy and money running lines out to where people aren't?

If you want to be out in the sticks, away from where people are (or you want something else that depends upon that fact), deal with the consequences of not being in a dense enough population to warrant higher-level service-- the same way people who want to be more closely connected live with the downsides of being in more urban areas. While I can get behind rolling basic services out to everyone (power, phone, dialup), once you have "access", anything past that is something you have to figure out or deal without.

Re:we're the phone company (5, Interesting)

Yez70 (924200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994373)

They should establish basic service for everyone. You or I consider broadband as basic service and we all pay the Universal Service Fee on our bills. That money is meant to provide basic service to everyone, particularly in the rural areas. We paid for those lines to be built and we are still paying to keep them maintained. The phone companies, on the other hand, are doing their absolute best to NOT spend the money as they are supposed to spend it. Instead they quote numbers like it costs us $13,000 per phone line per year to get service to people who live in the woods. I don't know about you, but if I was being given $13 grand a year per household to get people phone service, I'd happily erect a cellular tower to cover 50 people and give them wireless broadband. It's time we abandon wireline service, especially in rural areas and force the telcos to refocus their efforts on updated technologies.

Re:we're the phone company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994419)

Maybe you Slashdot geeks consider broadband as basic service, but most people don't. So what if John Boy can't watch TV over the Internet or download the latest infringing torrent? He's got his web and e-mail. And he and his neighbors are fine with that.

Re:we're the phone company (2, Informative)

Khaed (544779) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996873)

Then stop giving ISPs money to get broadband to John Boy.

Re:we're the phone company (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23997157)

if they can do it in Korea, they can do it in the us and canada.

Re:we're the phone company (1)

catbertscousin (770186) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999187)

But once he's seen how much faster pages load on his friend Billy-Bob's broadband connection, will he remain content with his dialup service? And that game Billy-Bob plays with all those folks online is, like, WOW. There's probably even girls on there.

Re:we're the phone company (1)

clevguru (1002704) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998463)

To make the US competitive with the world I think rural folks should get subsidized broadband. It can only help us. Lets say at least 5 mb down and 1 mb up to start with. That's a very reasonable minimum standard.

Why? (2, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994495)

In exchange for getting to use public right-of-way without cost.

If they get to selectively choose who they serve, let them negotiate land rights across all the private property, everywhere they go.

Re:we're the phone company (0, Troll)

Kibblet (754565) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994513)

Yeah lets get rid of the farmers and rely on importing all our food. Who needs corn? Who needs milk and meat? Wait to see the price increases after this flooding -- and then tell me you don't want farmers in the USA.

Re:we're the phone company (5, Funny)

54mc (897170) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994605)

And if you want to eat the bread made from the wheat grown in my fields, you'll run an OC 12 line to my farmhouse.

Re:we're the phone company (1)

clevguru (1002704) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998517)

Geez, what is so bad about SHARING the information wealth with our rural FRIENDS. It might improve farming techniques or spawn new agricultural technology thus helping the U.S. economy. Or should we continue to take the Republican line and continue to destroy the nation's national security (the economy) and give up our dollar's might to foreigners? Education (free school available to all up to 1st college degree) Infrastructure - public transportation available to everyone, green/alternative private transportation requirements I want to see 1/2 the money spent on Iraq spent also on our own people. Iraq may or may not be a mistake, but I want similar measures taken on real national security problems like our companies relocating overseas because we have no government health care programs for our base worker class. bla bla bla and the beat goes on.

Re:we're the phone company (2, Interesting)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995493)

I agree 1000 percent with you.

I am also a subscriber to a wireless broadband company, mostly catering to the Hotel / Hospitality market. They found out that they could make MORE money by providing wifi broadband (802.11 based) to outlying areas in So Calif.

50.00 a month gets me half megabit bidirectional (another 9.99 a month gets me another few hundredK, QOS'ed for Vonage or my VoIP of choice, an external and internal IP (one for VoIP, one NAT), etc.)). I can pay up to 150 a month to get much faster, but a properly positioned Squid box negates the need for that, and fetchmail keeps me happy on the single POP acct. I have left.

It's expensive, it's ideal (I haven't lost signal yet, but I HAVE had latency issues when we had 3 feet of snow in 12 hours.... It still worked, just had a few timeouts). Judicious use of access points and parabolics mandated on each installation means we continue to get service. Our ToS is shittily written (as a consumer, instead of a business acct), but honestly, I haven't had much of an issue.

I back that up with wireless from my cell phone.

I pay much more than I do at my house in Silicon Valley. I pay 19 dollars a month for 1.5 meg DSL, and we all know the drill there.

But, for an always on connection, people in the "sticks" should look to Hotels and their ISP's. It helped me out.

http://www.creative-wireless.net/ [creative-wireless.net] is the name of the company that I pay my bill to, but they are NOT the underlying technology. However, at a place that has various peaks and valleys from slightly BELOW sea level to > 7K feet (My house is at 6400 feet ASL), it works GREAT. (I dropped WildBlue satellite when I found these guys).

--Toll_Free

It's a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994109)

that AT&T wasn't the president's best friend, like it is now.

Re:It's a good thing... (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994189)

While under ATT's control it was much healthier for both the telecomm industry and its customers then what we have now.

The technical advances that Bell Labs made could never have been recreated with what was left.

And as far as consumer protection, they were so heavily regulated that they couldn't have stepped out of line even if they wanted to.

The breakup was wrong and politically motivated.

Re:It's a good thing... (-1, Flamebait)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994265)

The breakup was wrong and politically motivated.

Translation: I'm a Communist who likes paying $2/minute for long distance

Re:It's a good thing... (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994309)

An advocate for a monopoly isn't necessarily a communist. Many of them are merely misinformed.

-jcr

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995025)

This is true. But back in Ma Bell's day, if you wanted to get someone's goat, you called them a Communist. I was just kicking it old-school.

Re:It's a good thing... (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994289)

The breakup was wrong and politically motivated.

Politically motivated perhaps, but it was still the right thing to do. One has only to look at costs before and after the monopoly to realize that AT&T was one more example of a state-granted monopoly that charged its customers far more than they would have paid in a free market.

-jcr

Re:It's a good thing... (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995111)

As i look at the Bell Systems metal phone booth sign hanging over my desk ( its mounted on the wall ), ill never be convinced that it was a good idea.

Oh, and my lucite block with a piece of the local bell office's sign embedded in it from when the sign was removed after the breakup and subsequent name change, that sits on my desk next to my cup holder.

Sorry, *no one* can convince me otherwise, ever.

Oh, and i still have my original bluebox so don't call me jaded..

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995137)

Sorry, *no one* can convince me otherwise, ever.

So, facts aren't important to you? Good to know lest anyone were tempted to take you seriously.

-jcr

Re:It's a good thing... (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995177)

*Your* facts.

Others remember the facts differently as they were actually there when it all went down, and not just reading some biased wiki page decades later and pretending to be an expert.

Biased, much as the moderation seems to be tonight, looking at my troll status on this. You kids need to get off my lawn.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996035)

*Your* facts.

Facts are facts, they don't belong to anyone.

not just reading some biased wiki page decades later and pretending to be an expert.

Hey, I lived through that period too, sunshine. You're full of crap.

-jcr

Re:It's a good thing... (0, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998179)

Bla bla bla bla.

Re:It's a good thing... (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996141)

Sorry, *no one* can convince me otherwise, ever.

Welp. All I can say, is if you can look at the diseased state of the old AT&T monopoly and think it's better than the amazing things that have happened due to that breakup with both the telecommunications industry and the internet, then you are stupid. As they say, you can't fix stupid.

Here's how I see it, my brother has been employed most of his adult life by Spectralink [evohst.org] , a company that makes communication systems for workplaces at the building and campus-level. That job and that business only existed because AT&T's monopoly had been taken apart. My family uses cell phones talk to each other any time and any place civilized. The end of the AT&T monopoly (and the corresponding destruction of the state monopolies in Europe) paved the way for this technology to exist. I connect now to the internet through services that wouldn't have existed in an AT&T monopoly. That's the bald truth. AT&T held us back. It along with the rest of the telecommunication industry helps us now.

Maybe you were an employee. All I can say is that it's not fair to impose a monopoly on everyone else just so AT&T employees can be well paid.

Re:It's a good thing... (0, Offtopic)

crunzh (1082841) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998281)

>The end of the AT&T monopoly (and the >corresponding destruction of the state monopolies >in Europe) paved the way for this technology to >exist. Not correct. Northern Europe had quite good cellular coverage before the monopolies was broken up.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

slawo (1210850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996445)

You are right, one state accredited company to do one thing is the best idea comrade, don't let the capitalist regime change your mind.

"Political" Nonsense (4, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994359)

Your history is a little off. First off, AT&T did step out of line, and repeatedly. RTFA.

Second, AT&T chose to break up. OK, technically, they were being litigated by the anti-trust cops, but they'd managed to drag it out for 8 years. At which time, the White House was inhabited by Ronald Reagan, not exactly a fiend for fighting big business.

But AT&T's management decided that a breakup, if done on their terms, would turn into a bonanza. The anti-trust people wanted them to get out of the hardware business. Instead, they got to keep their hardware business and spin off their local operating companies instead. This voided the 1956 consent decreee (imposed on them by another anti-business radical, Eisenhower) that limited their businesses to "common carrier" stuff. This allowed them to launch a number of initiatives based on all that technology they were now free to apply commercially. A prime example: UNIX.

Alas they never managed to make much money off of UNIX, or any of the other enterprises they started. Technology isn't worth much if you have no business sense.

One more quibble, this time with your definition of "politically motivated". The breakup was driven by justice department civil servants, and actually happened under a pro-business administration. If there was politics involved it was the make the breakup more like the one AT&T wanted.

Re:"Political" Nonsense (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995425)

Your history is a little off.


Alas they never managed to make much money off of UNIX, or any of the other enterprises they started. Technology isn't worth much if you have no business sense.

One more quibble, this time with your definition of "politically motivated". The breakup was driven by justice department civil servants, and actually happened under a pro-business administration. If there was politics involved it was the make the breakup more like the one AT&T wanted.

Actually, Lucent, their arm of hardware, made literally millions off Unix.

Every piece of back-end phone equipment I've used, that had a Lucent label on the front, ran a UNIX or UNIX flavored variant on the back end.

Case in point, the main phone switch in NY was designed by a friend of mine, whom worked for Lucent in Indiana. The problems later found in it where determined to be software, not the major hardware. UNIX was the O/S of choice.

Lots of hardware manufacturers that also own software houses use that software in house to prevent having to outsource (and waste that associated money). Lucent / AT&T / Bell Labs did that exact thing. Everyone else running and using UNIX was just icing (money) on top of the cake (profit).

That, at least, is how it was passed to me by a Hardware Engineer who retired from Lucent in the late 90s after doing his near 30 years with them.... Meaning, he was part of the breakup.

Of course, YMMV, LMFAO, IANAL, this is /., etc.

--Toll_Free

Re:"Political" Nonsense (4, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995687)

As I recall, Lucent wasn't called Lucent until AT&T spun it off. And that business wasn't profitable until AT&T got rid of it. People who were competing with AT&T weren't interested in buying hardware from AT&T. At least, that was the reason they gave when they spun it off. Possibly Lucent just needed to get out from under AT&T's inept management.

Another detail: however much money has been made putting Unix into phone switches is a tiny fraction of what AT&T hoped to make when they were allowed to turn Unix into a commercial product. AT&T spent something like a billion dollars having a company I worked for build 68010-based Unix systems that were designed to compete directly against IBM-compatibles. Never sold a one. Actually, according to one of my sources, they never even tried: their strategy changed and they abandoned the product.

They must have made some money licensing Unix to companies like Sun and IBM. But not a fraction of what they hoped when they decided to give up being a common carrier.

Coincidentally, some 15 years later I briefly worked for Microport, which was a major vendor of UnixWare, the pathetic little descendent of AT&T's big plans for Unix (by then owned by SCO). What percentage of UnixWare buyers were telcos? 100%, or something like it.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994361)

The technical advances that Bell Labs made could never have been recreated with what was left.

Look at before and after the breakup. Look at how quickly modems got faster and faster. ANd once the telecom industry was deregulated in 1996, high-speed access bloomed, at least in more profitable markets.

The rest of the country needs high-speed access. This can be accomplished by either adding some controls and requiring some level of access or by creating a 'rural telecom company' that operates with subsidies from the federal government.

Maybe one day.

AT&T/Bell Labs: the rest of the story (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994749)

Some key implications of the Carterfone decision on Bell Labs were overlooked by this article. As it mentioned, the same consent degree that previously granted AT&T its network monopoly also prevented it from commercializing its other activities. It was largely because of this limitation that a certain operating system developed at AT&T's Bell Labs in those days was not exploited commercially, but was instead openly passed around academia like a joint at a pot party. Only some time after Carterfone, as AT&T started to shake off that consent decree and start commercializing the work of Bell Labs, did it start to exercise its copyrights to that OS, and by that time the Berkeley distro had already been hatched, and unix was out of the barn. In other words: *BSD, Linux, and OS X ironically owe their existence to the pre-Carterfone AT&T monopoly. They probably would not have come into being if that decision had been made earlier, because Unix would have been treated as something to be commercialized (or at least denied to the public) from the beginning.

Re:AT&T/Bell Labs: the rest of the story (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995913)

It just means some other OS would have been the one. The need would have been filled. Just not by Unix-derived OS's.

Re:AT&T/Bell Labs: the rest of the story (1)

davolfman (1245316) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996841)

Without Unix bumping around like that in the early days I'm not sure there ever would have been a free software movement. or at least that's how the story seems to read when Stallman tells it.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

clevguru (1002704) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998553)

We never had any advances in suburban communities like Canfield, Ohio where I grew up under the Bell System. It was only after the break up in 1984 that we finally moved from a step-by-step switch to a 5ESS with a few calling features! It was only after competition came in on a local basis much later that I can finally get Anonymous Call Rejection (still can't get it from Bell). New pricing models that make sense in the modern era and more features for the consumer resulted from the bell breakup. yes bell labs came through (and still does post 1984) with many breakthrough scientific discoveries, but so do many other organizations and companies. The argument that had there been no monopoly there would not have been these developments is not a logical one.

Re:It's a good thing... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999433)

The breakup happened because AT&T wanted to get into other businesses (like computing). If it wasn't for the breakup, AT&T would have done what Microsoft did on a much larger scale.

Here's a toast to... (3, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994129)

500 sets [porticus.org] .

Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (3, Insightful)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994165)

As they work with the telco electricy in case the mains goes out. I've seen the huge batteries they use and I doubt they would discharge quickly. Cordless phones are obviously useless.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994243)

That's where I put all the UPS's that people give me that don't work anymore, after I go to rat shack and drop $20 on a new battery for them.

Most of the equipment in my house has a UPS. My phone, my answering machine, my stereo (keeps the channel presets), my WAP in the attic, etc. Gave one to my neighbor recently, her main phone is a cordless and wasn't working during a recent blackout.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994341)

Most of the equipment in my house has a UPS. My phone, my answering machine, my stereo (keeps the channel presets), my WAP in the attic, etc. [...]

--
I work for the Department of Redundancy Department.

Rarely have I seen such a topical sig.

(Me, I use a cell phone; it has its own UPS!)

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995061)

Well, if you were psychic, you would know when it was coming and charge your battery ahead of time. Otherwise you are still eventually fucked.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (3, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994345)

I still have a lineman's set in the garage. The cordless phone itself would be quite useless in such a situation. I agree.

However, cellphone only households are quickly on the rise. I have only used a cell phone since around 2000. Especially since AT&T came out with that unlimited charter plan years back.

Although I do technically have a phone line with my DSL service I never use it. In fact, the line runs straight from the street to my DSL modem. Just a patch cable in the junction box going straight from the telco box to the specific cat5 run servicing my DSL modem. I rewired the rest of the outlets for RJ45 instead and run Gigabit networking over those cat5 runs.

If I absolutely had too, I could connect the lineman's set directly to the cat5 coming in from the telco box and make a phone call. I could just as easily sit on my couch in the dark and use my cell phone. Those same huge batteries they use for the telco lines also are used on the cell phone towers.

So I would say yes, everybody should have an old touch tone phone if they do not already have a cell phone.

P.S - What about people getting their telephone service through VOIP with their cable company? Batteries won't help in that case and neither would a touch tone telephone. Only a cell phone would provide appropriate fail over.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994397)

Why don't batteries work for VOIP from the cable company? I've got the cable modem, router, and wireless AP all on a UPS in my household. The phones all work when the power goes out and I stay online with my laptop like nothing happened.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994427)

I was specifically referring to the large batteries that the telco uses on it's own hardware. Those batteries won't help you with your VOIP cablemodem.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994927)

I have not once had a cable outage coincide with a power outage.

The ups connected to my cable modem and wireless router has never failed me. Except when the storm causes a surge on the cable line and blows up the modem. (happens to me about once a year, havent found a surge protector that will prevent it, but at least it doesn't blow up my router and computer anymore)

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995241)

You and the other poster COMPLETELY missed my point. No offense, but you both came into the middle of a conversation without reading the original posts.

I was talking with the other gentleman about a regular touch tone phone acting as a fail over communications device during a power outage in your neighborhood. The batteries that supply the power over the telco lines also allow older non-cordless touch tone telephones to operate since they were designed to operate from that power and not the power being used in your house. That voltage is typically 48 volts on the line.

I also pointed out to him that VOIP operating on cablemodems from your local cable provider are not designed to use the 48V being provided over the telco lines which is backed up by those large batteries.

So in the event of a power outage in the neighborhood your local cable provider may also have large battery systems providing UPS to their own equipment servicing your house. However, your VOIP equipped cablemodem is not designed to draw power through the coax line from those UPS batteries. You would require your own UPS to provide power to your cablemodem, router, switch, etc.

So YES you are BOTH CORRECT. Your UPS in your home will allow you to still talk on the phone assuming that your cordless phone, cablemodem, router, switch, etc. are all connected to the UPS. That would also assume that the cable provider has UPS backed up equipment in your neighborhoods.

However, that still had nothing to do with what I was talking about.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (2, Informative)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995575)

What you needed to do was provide a bit more information in your original post.

Your speaking of the phone not getting AC power. Big difference than the REN.

But, you do bring up a great point. An even better point would be this.

All (that I know of) telephone (land line based) systems still have to respond to pulse dialing. Screw touch tone, just pulse dial by tapping the on/off hook button X amount of times (x being the number dialed, ie, tap it 4 times to dial a 4, 9 times for a 9, etc).

10 taps means 0

Hope this helps. Yes, there was hacking the phone system before touch tones and the Commodore and BOX autodialer :)

--Toll_Free

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995717)

What you needed to do was provide a bit more information in your original post.

Actually I did. If they had read my post fully they would have seen that the batteries I was referring to in context were indeed the batteries being used by the telco to provide backup power the land lines.

Those batteries, and the entire land line phone system have nothing do with any of the equipment being used by the cable companies or any other internet provider, including the telephone companies themselves.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995547)

Cable companies are now required to provide a QoS the same as land-line based telephones.

This tidbit of information was passed to me while waiting for power lines to be cleared, and wondering WTF a Comcast truck was doing there. The tech helping to guide traffic said that since they provide comcast telephone service, they, legally, have to provide the same type of uptime.

Could have been bullshit, but that was what I was told by Comcast trench person in Silicon Valley.

--Toll_Free

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995669)

Cable companies are now required to provide a QoS the same as land-line based telephones.

Yes. That was bullshit. QoS and TCP/IP in general have absolutely nothing to do with land-line based telephones. That would be like saying roast beef sandwiches have something in common with key lime pies.

I am not sure I could have contained my laughter talking to that person. Well... probably.

On a recent airline flight I was having problems with my legs. Restless Leg Syndrome is real, no matter what the comics want to say about it. In any case, I was stretching my legs at the back of the plane when the stewardess told me to sit down. I argued the policy with her stating that there was nothing dangerous about what I was doing.

She then told me that I had to sit down since the "level of oxygen was different at the back than it was at my seat". I was so completely stunned that I just smiled, turned around and found my seat.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995767)

I wasn't talking QoS as an IP based 'thing'...

I mean a quality of service along the lines of "they have to be up and running as much as the phone company does, since they are now, in fact, a phone company".

I couldn't figure out how to word it correctly the first time, so I attempted to borrow a term.

I have RLS as well. Medical MJ works wonders, and if your state supports it, your drug test will be found clean by any member of the testing board in the US. Just passing along some info. Marinol (THC) also.

--Toll_Free

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996107)

I have agree with your stewardess... sorry, flight attendant. With the huge variance in oxygen levels throughout the plane and the great likelihood that a Nintendo DS can bring down a 747 if you 1-Up in Mario, it's a wonder I still fly.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 5 years ago | (#23995987)

Comcast VOIP modem (which all in one phone+Internet modem) comes with battery that will keep VOIP side running for several hours after power outage. If you have old phone which I do, I've used phone in a power outage.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (2, Interesting)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995245)

> Why don't batteries work for VOIP from the cable company?

Because cable companies, unlike phone companies, aren't required to have backup power to run THEMSELVES. Or, as Comcast's reps eloquently put it after Hurricane Wilma, "Our crews follow FPL's." No power == no cable == no cable internet. Hurricane Wilma left my old neighborhood's power lines relatively unscathed, but destroyed our power substation, so we had no power for more than two weeks (Coral Gables... central Dade County). I never lost DSL local loop, but Comcast didn't get service restored to the area until the day after FPL did, and didn't get it restored to pre-hurricane problem-free levels for another week. Anyone with cable internet in the area was SOL unless they had a tetherable PDA phone.

Sadly, when I moved recently, I was assured by AT&T/BellSouth that DSL is available in my neighborhood... then told that I can't actually GET DSL right now because their DSLAM ports are maxed out (it's a remote DSLAM), and the bastards are too cheap to add more. To say I was pissed would be an understatement... I actually had DSL availability as an explicit contingency on my purchase offer, and was delighted to have it officially satisfied the next day by BellSouth's assurances that DSL exists in my neighborhood (never bothering to mention that "Exists" != "Available to new customers"). So for now, at least, I'm a captive Comcast customer :(

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995087)

Like I said on another comment, unless you are psychic, you won't know when its coming and via Murphy's Law, your battery will be close to dead and can't be charged.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (3, Informative)

Eil (82413) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995235)

I could just as easily sit on my couch in the dark and use my cell phone.

But the cell networks typically fall down and are completely useless during any type of large-scale emergency. Cell phones were completely useless to those ensnared in the Northeast Blackout of 2003 but I never had any problem getting through to people on my land line (until the batteries at the CO ran out anyway). Cell carriers design and maintain their infrastructure under the assumption that only a small percentage of consumers will be using the network at any given time and they don't bother to plan for contingencies. So when something happens that prompts a bunch of people to dial a number and hit Send at once, the whole thing falls down.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (4, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995343)

I had heard that plenty of cell towers were still active during Katrina for 48+ hours afterwards. I dunno what percentage of cell towers have battery backed up UPS power supplies, but to my knowledge they are pretty common now. I've personally seen a couple of towers here locally, and they all had battery back up for at least 24 hours and one tower had a hook up to a generator.

Personally, if I ever had a large-scale emergency I would just run down to my data center. It has a very well equipped security force, unlimited diesel fuel contract providing emergency power, redundant internet, redundant air condition, and UPS redundant power circuits to every cage. I'm pretty sure that I would be able to communicate from there. If I couldn't do that, I would think that the emergency might be REALLY big.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

tc9 (674357) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998557)

That's what most everyone, including the Feds though in New Orleans. Unfortunately, multiple TELCOs/ISPs all went through the same node just outside of town, which was flooded.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#23997321)

it has nothing to do with them assuming that only a small percentage use the connection and everything to do with the physical limitation os cell tower antenna, yes you can get many many "fingers" of signal sent, but there is still a limit and the only way around that limit is more towers

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (2, Interesting)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995535)

I use Vonage and a UPS to power my Vonage adapter, my WiFi adapter (I get WiFi based Inet), and my WiFi router in the house.

It will last nearly 12 hours... I "pulled the plug" in a blackout test one day... It pulled slightly more than 11 hours.

It, too, was one of those UPS's that was a 'gimme' from a friend.

--Toll_Free

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994599)

argh. undoing mismoderation.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23996369)

the battery banks give about 6 hours of functionality to a Central Office. at least on the west coast.

Re:Everyone should have an old touch tone phone (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996923)

Where I live we get about 8 hrs before the phone lines die. Now the phone company sends a van out to sit there and recharge the batteries, extra important here as no cell coverage.

pretty much created ? (-1, Troll)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994171)

which pretty much created the telecommunications world as we currently know it

Don't you mean 'pretty much destroyed the industry and its benign monopolistic benefactor and made it the consumer oppressed shambles we have today' instead?

Re:pretty much created ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994263)

Don't you mean 'pretty much destroyed the industry and its benign monopolistic benefactor and made it the consumer oppressed shambles we have today' instead?

If telephone company regulation turned out so badly, why do only a quarter [slashdot.org] of slashdotters think it's the most irritating industry there is?

Re:pretty much created ? (2, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994353)

Yeah, life was so much better back when I was paying $1/minute to call another state. I hate it that I can call countries around the globe for less than 2% of that today.

Actually no (4, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995403)

Telecommunications under the old AT&T was such a primitive set of technologies that it hadn't changed appreciably from a consumer viewpoint in 80 years.

Yes, it was reliable, yes, the service guy came out when he said he would, but we were paying $20/month plus we paid for each extension, plus we couldn't have our own phone, so we paid $1/month for a 2nd phone. For 20 years. This is in 1960 dollars. That's like paying $100 per month for a phone today.

Oh, and long distance was dollars per minutes, lousy quality. It was so expensive, that you played games with "person to person" long distance when you wanted to let people know you'd arrived. "I'll call and if I ask for 'Thelma', everything is fine, if I ask for 'Louise', it means the car broke down and you should accept the call".

Since the breakup, phone costs went down, the internet was allowed to get started because nobody could charge you $400/month for a modem line. All kinds of innovative devices are available, and now I have fiber to my house. The communications world is infinitely better off from the consumer's viewpoint than it was 20-30 years ago. I mean, it isn't even close. From all your comments, I have to assume that you worked for the old phone company? I can appreciate that it was a great place to work, but it came at a very high cost to society.

Re:Actually no (1)

Tore S B (711705) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998113)

Of course you completely disregard the technical advances during this time which allowed telcos to bundle thousands of phone lines at high quality over fiber, as well as the drastic decrease in required service and per-line cost brought about by digital and semiconducting exchanges (which were brought about by AT&T in the pre-breakup days!).

From AT&T to at&t (Colbert explains) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994183)

Colbert explains [youtube.com] how the old AT&T re-grouped/formed.

(Is it really that bad? All Baby Bells are back together?)

We went form AT&T to at&t..big deal (1)

FirstNoel (113932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994199)

It took 40 years for the change in case.

it took till just recently to get VOIP.

how carter won (5, Informative)

trb (8509) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994237)

If I recall, this is how Carter won that suit. AT&T always claimed that they were concerned that if competitors connected their hardware to the AT&T network that they might damage the network with badly coupled electrical loads, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringer_equivalence_number [wikipedia.org]

Carterphone had a device where the handset sat in the cradle of their device, it worked in a similar manner to the later acoustically coupled modems, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_coupler [wikipedia.org]

So there was no electrical connection (coupling) between the Carter device and the phone. The device had a cradle that the handset sat in, coupling the mic and the speaker. The AT&T lawyers said, well, your device is touching our handset. So Carter lifted the handset an inch out of the coupler, and said, is this too close? The AT&T lawyer said yes. So Carter carried his device across the room and said is this too close? The lawyer said no. Then Carter moved closer and closer, and AT&T's defense crumbled.

Re:how carter won (1, Troll)

butterfield (1316637) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994299)

This may have been a small evidence. However, the divesture was initiated by a disgruntled ATT employee who started MCI. So, with the diversture, we have come for 15 dollar phone bills to hundreds of dollars. Technology advanced but so did the ablility to charge more. Regulation kept the telecommunication industry within affordable limits. Grandma and Grandpa on a limited income could afford a telephone. Now, the base rate is more than some social security checks. So, as we look at the advances, one must ask, how did we take care of our population for communication? Did we really better ourselves or enslave ourselves in the manner of George Orwell's 1984.

Re:how carter won (4, Informative)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994371)

Everybody seems to be confused about what this decision was. This was not the decision that broke up AT&T. This was the decision that allowed people to purchase telephones from companies other than AT&T. Note, not telephone service, juts plain telephones. Before this decision, you had to buy (or more likely, rent) all of your telephone equipment from the phone company.

As for the rest, what are you smoking? I can get a phone line for under $20/month, and that's 2008 money. Try doing that before the breakup. I can get plans for under $50/month that give me unlimited calling anywhere in the country. Try that before the breakup.

Re:how carter won (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994473)

"As for the rest, what are you smoking? I can get a phone line for under $20/month, and that's 2008 money. Try doing that before the breakup. I can get plans for under $50/month that give me unlimited calling anywhere in the country. Try that before the breakup."

My phone bills before the breakup were almost always $15-$20 per month. Now they run at least three times that. I don't now and have never needed unlimited calling anywhere.

Re:how carter won (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994539)

Well what are you paying for? I can get unlimited local calling for under $25/month, which is well under your pre-breakup bills when adjusted for inflation. The only way you're paying that much money is if you're making lots of paid long distance calls (which contradicts your assertion that you don't need unlimited calling) or if you have a bunch of special features on your line, every single one of which would not have been available pre-breakup.

Re:how carter won (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994935)

If that's pre-break up money than that $15 is $30 to $70 (depending on if you mean pre-breakup as in 1984 or 1974) thanks to inflation alone.

Re:how carter won (0, Flamebait)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994377)

Wow, 1984. How completely inappropriate. I applaud you.

We are enslaved. (1, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994421)

Want proof? The parent examples should be proof enough, but think about the following:

  • Your DSL maximum speed is independent of hardware, it's a configuration setting at the teleco office. It's no use saying they charge more for more actal usage, since they throttle ADSL bandwidth if a user uses more than the average amount.
  • The unauthorized switching of long-distance carriers is still a common practice.
  • A number of States (such as Virginia) have such poor phone service that the message "all circuits are busy now" is commonplace.
  • Cell-phone companies like Cricket tie themselves to a single handset, whereas other handsets (like the iPhone) are designed to be tied to a single network.
  • Text messages and SMS can take hours, sometimes days, to cross the US. I can travel faster than a text message.
  • Although technology has made hardware cheaper, you don't see that reflected anywhere.

Re:We are enslaved. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994919)

Yeah man, I know what you are talking about, AT&T just found out my cousin didn't have a phone plan and they had him locked up.

He says they have him making batteries (he only writes letters, they don't get phones).

Re:how carter won (5, Interesting)

wljones (79862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995051)

The Carterphone case was covered in my college telecommunications course. Dr. Baker made two points not mentioned in Slashdot. First, Tom Carter knew he did not have the resources to fight Ma Bell (AT&T for the nickname challenged). He asked the oil drilling industry for help, and received all he needed. The Carterphone was critical to the drilling business. Second, Dr. Baker stated that AT&T had a history of fighting the wrong lawsuits for the wrong reasons. Had they simply allowed acoustic coupling with no electronic attachment, the Carterphone would have satisfied customer needs, and the attached equipment monopoly would still exist. AT&T fought it, lost heavily, made unwelcome enemies, and left themselves open to the later lawsuit which destroyed their communications monopoly.

Phone cops (5, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994339)

I was going to post a link to a YouTube where Johnny Fever jumped behind a sofa to hide from the Phone Cops -- to illustrate to the youngun's how it was once illegal to have personally-owned phones that weren't leased from AT&T. It was to illustrate how society had changed.

But the YouTube link [youtube.com] I found on Google says "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation". So now we have Video Cops instead of Phone Cops.

We can't even talk about monopolies of the past due to monopolies of the present.

Re:Phone cops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994505)

We can't even talk about monopolies of the past due to monopolies of the present.

The monopoly of the present that prevents you from seeing that video is the government. Do you think Google gives a shit about what Fox has to say when the government doesn't back it up?

Re:Phone cops (1)

schon (31600) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994945)

The monopoly of the present that prevents you from seeing that video is the government. Do you think Google gives a shit about what Fox has to say when the government doesn't back it up?

The monopoly of the present that prevents your neighbor from murdering you is the government. Do you think your neighbor gives a shit about your rights when the government doesn't back it up?

Re:Phone cops (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#23997387)

actually the "monopoly" that keeps my neighbor from murdering me is glock. but they aren't a monopoly.

Re:Phone cops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23995663)

The monopoly of the present that prevents you from seeing that video is the government.

You could make a similar argument regarding Ma Bell.

What a sucky headline (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994387)

Clumsy wording, no punch. What was wrong with the one I submitted, "Happy Cartfone Day"? And why do editors have time to change headlines but not the time to make sure submissions actually make sense?

Now I'm only locked into Sprint (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994825)

So I guess we haven't gone that far.

No other choice for phone lines - who to blame? (1, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994925)

You have only one entity to blame for the lack of choice when it comes to phone services - the government. If AT&T had a monopoly, it was only kept alive by government restrictions on the creation of competing lines. No doubt such legislation was bought and paid for by the company, but only the government is capable of applying the force necessary to keep competition from existing. As long as government manipulation of the economy is possible, so are monopolies capable of being indefinitely sustained.

The monopoly breakup history is very simple... (4, Informative)

VValdo (10446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995055)

You of course already know how a monopoly is broken because it happens so frequently. Y'know, cuz like... it's always in the news that our government breaks monothic companies like Microsoft or Halliburton into pieces to foster competition, create free markets, and promote options for the consumer.

Regardless, here is a handy chart [wikinvest.com] to illustrate how Ma Bell was broken up in '84 and what has happened since. Stephen Colbert broke it down nicely here [forret.com] , although that link has been removed [typepad.com] do to copyright claims by Viacom, one of our six global media conglomerates [adage.com] .

Thank goodness you can still watch it in Canada [google.ca] .

Of all the AT&T derivatives... we know Qwest didn't spy on us. So that's one.

W

Re:The monopoly breakup history is very simple... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23998877)

Monopolies like Ma Bell would not have surived for nearly as long had they not been sustained by government restrictions on the creation of competing lines. In reality that is the only thing that can maintain a monopoly - force-backed manipulation of the economy through legislation.

And it gets better (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996139)

I just got the news that MetroPCS is pretty much allowing full consumer choice on access devices.

I'm so glad they're building out in my city, because Verizon, at&t and Sprint all pretty much suck because they still charge top dollar for net access on their networks.

Because that's all I want. With the net access I can do the things I need to do.

telecommunications world? (1)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996157)

"this landmark, which pretty much created the telecommunications world as we currently know it."
telecommunications of the USA don't you mean?
not everyone in the world has to suffer the USAs ridiculous telecom situation.

"Carterfone", not Carterphone" (4, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 5 years ago | (#23996213)

Headline is "40 Years After Carterphone Ended..."

TFA (corerctly" has "Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of the Carterfone Decision..."

Well done Timothy. All you had to do was cut and paste, but you had to try to type.

In other news today (1)

Ryan1984 (1316783) | more than 5 years ago | (#23997443)

Al Gore sues Mcdonalds, because he not only invented the internet, but wifi and "premium coffee" too.

Yellow Ringer Wire (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 5 years ago | (#23999093)

I remember way back when we were renting our phones, that there was a 3rd yellow wire used to ring the phone, later only 2 wire were needed (red/green). The phone company was able to determine if you had added an illegal phone by measuring the ring current. So whenever I added another phone I would make sure not to connect the yellow ringer wire, or disconnect the ringer somehow. They never found out so it musta have worked. I have always had a phone in every room. At that time Phone Hacking was Real BIG.
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