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AT&T Dumps VOIP Customers

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-let-the-door-hit-you dept.

Communications 295

Proudrooster writes "In the past two weeks AT&T has sent out disconnect letters to VOIP customers in big rude red letters, stating that VOIP service will be suspended in 30 days and permanently disconnected in 60 days. They cited E911 service as the reason. (It is peculiar that AT&T is unable overcome an E911 technical hurdle, since SBC/AT&T is also the local landline company in many areas where VOIP cancellation notices are being received.) Many AT&T VOIP customers have found that they are unable to transfer their phone numbers to a new provider. Further, AT&T is unwilling to set up a forwarding message directing callers to a new phone number for those who are unable to transfer their old numbers. In effect, AT&T has told many long-term VOIP subscribers: 'We are turning off your phone in 30 days, goodbye.'"

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suspend (0, Offtopic)

a11 (716827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008339)

my big black ass

HELLO. I AM A FAG (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008345)

are you too?
FP FOR SHAA

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Topic icon... (5, Funny)

Farrside (78711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008359)

I find it entirely appropriate, if not prescient.

quote (4, Funny)

alexandreracine (859693) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008409)

Governor Sio Bibble: A communications disruption could mean only one thing: invasion.

Re:Topic icon... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008539)

I totally agree. It stinks for the customers, but they should be upset about E911, not about AT&T. As though people just aren't smart enough to realize the difference between VoIP and the phone lines, a bunch of dumbasses add regulations that make the whole thing that much less worthwhile.

See also: Smart cars are too unsafe for Americans to choose to drive, Marijuana is a deadly addictive drug, etc. Somebody change my diaper.

Re:Topic icon... (5, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008681)

VoIP is going to be a VERY interesting space to watch over the next few years. With an old PC, I wired two small companies with PBX's, and connect them with multi-line capability through Sipphone.com for $0.01/minute, and no monthy fee or setup charge (sorry to sound like an add... here's another equivalent service: Vitelety.com). Further, in less than a year, you wont even need an old PC. Check out http://www.rowetel.com/ucasterisk/ip04 [rowetel.com] . David Rowe is giving the world Asterisk capable hardware designs for free! My own feeling is that these things can be used as a bridge between the old analog days and the future (VoIP). A similar piece of hardware could act as an answering machine, and also determine if the number your calling even needs to route through for-fee services (using http://e164.org/ [e164.org] ). If the other end is listed in the free directory, your call will be FREE (in both senses - beer and speech). Look to AT&T to launch a major public smear campaign, push more insane laws, try to kill net neutrality (to kill VoIP), and file law-suits galore against VoIP providers. One downside... I'm not sure if I like the idea of Mom being able to call for free :-)

Re:Topic icon... (4, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008707)

BTW... one reason Congress goes along with such nonsense is that they love being able to wire-tap your call. Even Skype provides them that capability. With users calling each other directly over the net with NO third party in the middle, it will be far harder to wire-tap. Any call could be encrypted as easily as any ssh session.

Re:Topic icon... (2, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009175)

Any call could be encrypted as easily as any ssh session.

Don't you mean: as easily as any EMAIL? Seems more appropriate, IMHO.

RTFA'd for a change.. (2, Interesting)

k1980pc (942645) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008363)

but I cannot find instances of any rude mails. Looks like somebody has tried to make it more sensational in the summary.

Re:RTFA'd for a change.. (4, Funny)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008485)

The mail isn't rude... Not even the words. Rather, the letters they used.

Probably too many "T"s, those are very rude letters.

What's the line? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008369)

We don't care, we're the phone company.

Re:What's the line? (5, Funny)

CRC'99 (96526) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008375)

From Saturday Night Live...

Ernestine: We handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. We realize that every so often you can't get an operator, for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn't make.

We don't care.

Watch this.. [ she hits buttons maniacally ] ..just lost Peoria.

You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space age technology that is so sophisticated, even we can't handle it. But that's your problem, isn't it? Next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string?

We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company.

Can't We (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008371)

Provide some kind of index, checked against credit card records, only available to emergency services?
Doesn't this seem logical and easy? So much of this stuff is handled online, eventually sure we'll all be using wireless + Voip, and then we'll need the router to provide a location, but still this all seems really really easy. Something people would be willing to fill out (Especially as it's so easy to secure [One time use based on 911 contact and then changed, change can be written back to the caller]).

Re:Can't We (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008455)

Wireless phones are set up that when you call 911, the tower knows what 911 local provider to use.

There isn't an easy "automatic" way to do that in VOIP, but 911 is just a forwarding number anyway. Why you just give them (At&t) your home address, they find the proper police dispatcher number for your area and just link it to your account? Is it THAT hard?

I don't care either way. I used to use VOIP, but then I found I juse my cell phone more anyway.

Re:Can't We (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008857)

Why you just give them (At&t) your home address, they find the proper police dispatcher number for your area and just link it to your account? Is it THAT hard?

I think the problem is, they don't know where you're calling from. My friend Kevin can take his VOIP phone, unplug it from the wall here in Minnesota, drive to his sister's house in Alabama, plug it into her switch, and make phone calls. He does it all the time. If someone picks up his phone and dials 911 there, sending police to his home address isn't going to be helpful.

Re:Can't We (2, Informative)

rec9140 (732463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008901)

911 is more than just a fowarding number on the POTS side of things.

When you dial 911 or *something on your cell phone that is simply a forwarded number to a regular POTS line at the PSAP.

If and ONLY IF your carrier and the local PSAP are setup for wireless 911 does a 911 call get routed similar to a regular 911 call which then provides info like the cell site and an ESTIMATED ADDRESS its not exact and this level of cellular 911 is available to a very small area.

911 on POTS is not a forwarded number its routed special and it comes in on 911 trunks, NOT on regular lines. This will help to understand the 911 process:
http://contact.bellsouth.com/email/bbs/phase2/how9 11works.html [bellsouth.com]

As for VOIP and 911 thanks to voncrap and the hordes of non technical users VOIP is now saddled with this issue. Plain and simple there should big huge warnings when signing up that 911 and emergency calling are not supported YOU the CUSTOMER need to make plans to deal with this by 1) Keeping a basic POTS line 2) Having a cell phone 3) Take your safety into your own hands and be prepared

Re:Can't We (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008619)

Why would you even bother? If you're on a VoIP phone, then presumably you've got a fairly good idea where you are. I can see it being a problem for mobile phones, but they just pass the details of the nearest cell tower. In cities, this can locate you to within a couple of hundred meters. If you're using a wired VoIP phone, try and figure out what building you're in. It shouldn't be hard. If you're using a wireless VoIP phone, presumably you're still near a building you're at least a little familiar with.

911 Operator: can we get your address? (1)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008771)

Injured person: It's a green house.

Re:911 Operator: can we get your address? (0)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008869)

Darwin in action, then. If you don't know where you live, you've got bigger problems than trying to give the right directions to the emergency services.

Or you could just use your mobile, instead of hunting around for a landline. Who the hell has a landline phone these days anyway?

Re:911 Operator: can we get your address? (2, Insightful)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008921)

Or you could just use your mobile, instead of hunting around for a landline. Who the hell has a landline phone these days anyway?
I have a landline, it's part of my phone+DSL package from my phone service provider, and it's the only phone I need. Oh, so sorry I didn't spend the extra money each month on a cell/mobile phone that I neither need nor want, even though YOU think I should. Douchebag.

Sorry, some of us are just not that self-important that we need to be a button away from the latest phone call no matter where we are.

Re:911 Operator: can we get your address? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009621)

I have a cell phone because for how many phone calls I make, $20 a month for a phone that I can take with me is way better than $25 for a land line. If I talked more it would be different though.

Re:911 Operator: can we get your address? (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009627)

A landline is my only phone line, and I get it discounted (Lifeline). If I hardly leave the house wtf need do I have for a cell phone?

-uso.

Re:911 Operator: can we get your address? (5, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009119)

Darwin in action, then. If you don't know where you live, you've got bigger problems than trying to give the right directions to the emergency services.


You know, sometimes people who call 911 are *unable to speak*. You may be having a stroke, to pick an example. Standard procedure for the 911 operator when 911 is called but no one talks on the other end is to dispatch emergency response to the phone number's location, for precisely this reason. Which can be done only when the 911 operator knows where the phone number is, of course.

Chris Mattern

Re:Can't We (3, Insightful)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009137)

The problem is your ability to communicate this information over the phone. If you're experiencing shortness of breath while phoning for an ambulance, your location is the kind of thing you would want the operator to be able to find automatically.

Re:Can't We (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008667)

Or just make GPSes far more common and the problem is solved too.

(e.g. I'd like one but they are too pricey)

Re:Can't We (1)

ATwentyCharacterName (1085199) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009277)

How well does GPS work indoors?

Re:Can't We (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008673)

Why? This is a service provided by a telco for its own customers across its own infrastructure:

They know your IP. If it is a DSL they can check it all the way to your local tail and have the same level of reliably identifying an emergency caller as for a normal phone call. All of this is in systems somewhere on the way. In addition to that it has to be checked only once - when the phone signs onto the system for service so the resource used is not that great. Same for cable - the MAC of your cable modem and the "location" of your MAC behind it can be polled straight away from the CMTS.

In either case we are talking 400-500 lines of code which does not need to function in real time in the call loop. All you need is to assign a phone to a call routing class to the correct emergency center some time after it has signed in and update the directory which supplies address data to the emergency services. This is done for the normal phones already anyway. If the main directory is static, VOIP and "follow me home" services can be passed to a secondary for referral. If there is a legal requirement for the phone to have emergency services from the moment of sign in, simply deny outgoing calls until registration is complete (first 5-10 minutes phone comes in on a new IP address). Plenty of ways to do all this. All are utterly technically trivial.

The only reason for this is a marketing/legal step somewhere. Most likely some ATT is taking the aim at Skype or Vonage. Clearly this, has nothing to do with technical impossibility of emergency services. Everything else aside, I cannot believe that ATT does not have a single person which can write this. All it takes are a couple of man weeks for a good OSS engineer. No rocket science in it.

Re:Can't We (2, Interesting)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008705)

The answer is simple.

They want to charge you the higher rates for a land line and long distance service.

Re:Can't We (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008987)

Why? This is a service provided by a telco for its own customers across its own infrastructure:

They know your IP. If it is a DSL they can check it all the way to your local tail and have the same level of reliably identifying an emergency caller as for a normal phone call.
--
I have a WIFI SIP phone and my city has wireless routers everywhere. So they get the IP of the router but I might be one of hundreds of customers logged in and no way to determine where I am. Some people even use self-built antennas to get service from miles away.

Odd. (4, Funny)

gklinger (571901) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008391)

AT&T should know better than anyone that breaking up is hard to do. Talk about a short institutional memory.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008825)

If you don't know what Cmd-Shift-1 and Cmd-Shift-2 are for, GTFO.
If you think Firefox is a decent Mac application, GTFO.
If you're still looking for the "maximize" button, GTFO.
If the name "Clarus" means nothing to you, GTFO.

Bandwagon jumpers are not welcome among real [imageshack.us] Mac [imageshack.us] users [imageshack.us] . Keep your filthy, beige [imageshack.us] PC fingers to yourself.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009445)

I know this annoying troll keeps popping up here all the time, but it makes me think that the attitude expressed by the Trolleur is why Macs will never have major market share. I know it's a troll, but I also know many hardcore mac users who really do feel this way.

ITS NOT A RELIGION PEOPLE IT IS A PIECE OF HARDWARE AND SOME SOFTWARE.

Get a grip, and preferrably not on your tiny penis.

Welcome back Ma Bell (5, Insightful)

TheReaperD (937405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008449)

All the monopolistic tendencies that you love and none of that silly customer service stuff...

The nerve! (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008453)

At LEAST they could've offered an alternative telco plan in that e-mail. I'm sure that would've brought a smile!

As if... (1)

hallux-s (1010313) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008503)

Anyone needed another reason to hate AT&T...
Here it is! :)
~Hal

Re:As if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008871)

Hey Watch it, I'd rather be directly connected to the Bell System with my good old 500 set (for those who don't know what a 500 set is look at the icon for the story) then through an unreliable VoIP line anyway.

Not Surprised (4, Interesting)

Flavius Iulianus (1093015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008517)

Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it. Cable, cell and long distance. I spent 2 months fighting with their cable people over service problems, had horrible customer service in 2 years of AT&T wireless and, the kicker, had the joy of learning in the midst of a family crisis while out of the country that they cancelled my calling card mysteriously and then had the gall to claim that I NEVER HAD ONE! Even though I was (and still am right now) looking at the card they sent me in 1999. So, if I'm surprised it's that they even bothered to tell people they were doing this. I would've expected them to cut service off with no warning and continue to bill people and refuse to stop billing or to refund for charges rendered after service was cut off. Or, maybe that's coming?

You wanna some cheese with that whine ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008603)

You wanna some cheese with that whine ? You a cry-a-babie with a bigga hole to pull all dat shit out a.

Re:Not Surprised (0)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008815)


Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it. Cable, cell and long distance.


Archie Bunker called them American Thugs & Theives.
And I totally agree with it. You would be hard pressed
to find anyone with such bad customer service.

Re:Not Surprised (1, Interesting)

TheGeneration (228855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008881)

Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it. Cable, cell and long distance.

Amen brother. When I had AT&T cable I returned my cable box and disconnected the cable, but they didn't log the cable box as turned in for 6 months! They charged me and REFUSED to correct the charges! AT&T's cable operation (which they sold to Comcast here in Northern California) had such terrible customer service that when Comcast bought it they had to run a HUGE commercial campaign to convince people that Customer Service under Comcast was going to be different (and you know what, Comcast has been a happy wonderland in comparison.)

If it asn't for my pre-AT&T buyout contract with Cingular I wouldn't have any AT&T products. The AT&T brand name alone is enough to completely turn me off to a product.

Re:Not Surprised (1)

robot_lords_of_tokyo (911299) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009357)

Over the past 10 years, I've had utterly horrible service with anything with the AT&T letters in it.

May I suggest trying another provider? When the horse keeps kicking the shit out of you, I'd suggest finding another horse.

The Phone Company DOES care! (5, Interesting)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008559)

The Phone Company DOES care. You damn right they care. They like to get paid.

I refuse to wait on hold. Any phone company that offers an answering service for its customers certainly should be able to set one up where its customers can leave a message for them.

My answering service for instance has not been working since last November. I actually think they shut it off deliberately because when I didn't like the over billing I contacted Investor Relations and their legal department. Seems the phone company cares about its Investors. Seems this is a direct line into the corporate management. Go figure eh?

Note: The legal department has to deal with legal issues. If you want something done then write a letter or fax the legal department and threaten them. They are smart and they are high priced help. The Legal Department does not want to deal with this shit either.

Well - seems the COMPANY PRESIDENT phoned me. Seems he didn't like me suggesting that after my bill has been PAID IN FULL BEFORE THE DUE DATE that its not ok for them to restrict my line and seems they also don't like me changing the amount owing and paying what I owe and telling them it is THEIR job to straighten their accounting out not mine and I'm not willing to wait on hold while they do it

Seems they think it is My responsibility to take up with the bank the time it takes for the bank to transfer the money into their accounts. This is despite the fact that they admitted the money was in their account at the time they restricted the service and they simply didn't check. The bank was excellent. Note when the line is restricted someone will answer the phone. This person noted the bill had been paid in full. They left the line restricted for about 4 days. They restricted it the day the bill was due. I paid in advance.

My Position: THE BANK IS YOUR AGENT, NOT MINE. You pay the bank for this service. Not me. If YOU have an issue with the bank then YOU take it up with the bank. Not Me! I told the guy to walk down the hall and ask his legal department.

Next day the bill was corrected. Same day my answering service quit.

Ok. I have quit paying their bill. When their accounting people call me I tell them: YUP. THE BILL IS NOT PAID! If you want it paid, get my answering service running and the bill will be paid in full within 1/2 hour. NO! I AM NOT WILLING TO WAIT ON HOLD. If YOU need someone to wait on hold while YOU do YOUR JOB then get YOUR COMPANY to hire someone to do it. I'm not willing to!

Its at a stalemate. Its been there for 2 months. There are letters in the mail. These are legal threats. If they restrict my service I WILL file in court and I will serve them and I will ask for a court order to force them to reconnect the service. They will lose. They do not have a leg to stand on.

See. The phone company does care? They care about their money. Rather than complain. Refuse to pay the bill until they deal with what they need to deal with. Its really simple actually!

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008693)

Wow. That was quite a rant, even for /.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (0)

mAIsE (548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008755)

I admire you gumption, but you are clearly swimming upstream.

I would love an update on how this pans out.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (0, Offtopic)

aarku (151823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008765)

I didn't realize Hell allowed web browsing. Give my regards to Ken Lay.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008845)

So um... why don't you just cancel your service and use someone else? I assume you don't have a choice for some reason. Did you try contacting the better business bureau or some similar organization?

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008859)

I owned an ISP in Hell$outh land from 1995-2005. I have many worse stories than that. Contacting legal or investor relations will not help. They simply don't care. With legal, the more you bitch, the more they like you. Heck, I had a BellSouth lawyer buy a very expensive dinner for me in Atlanta, GA because he added two full-time lawyers just to handle the legal problems caused by their screwing-over ISP's like mine. He made more money and had more help because of their illegal actions so he was happy. He wanted me to file more complaints with the PUC/PSC. Bad stories on the local news don't help either. They don't care. They have their legally protected monopoly, and they know a 60 second newspot isn't going to endanger their protected status. A call from the Governor's chief of staff about their dial-up access not working because the local water works cut a BellSouth line that took 19 days to fix didn't even phase them. They knew even the Governor in this state didn't have enough power to hurt them.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (1)

TheGeneration (228855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008897)

While your legal action will make their lawyers happy it won't make their accountant happy. AT&T can only pay the bills of so many lawyers before they start losing money. File a law suit if they've wronged you, the CFO might call you and beg you to forgive the company.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009311)

I owned an ISP in Hell$outh land from 1995-2005.

And a record store, and a recording studio...Betcha got a 707, too. You no fool me. We know who you are.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008903)

Ok. I have quit paying their bill.
...
If they restrict my service I WILL file in court and I will serve them and I will ask for a court order to force them to reconnect the service. They will lose. They do not have a leg to stand on.

They will win because you are not paying your bill. They have already cut off your service (answering service). You should have filed suit for that. You would actually have a case then. Of course I don't know that the answering service is actually regulated.

Regardless, they will cut off your service once the minimum timelapse has passed. When you go and file suit it will take months to get to court. When it finally gets there the court will side with the phone company because you haven't paid for the service.

You are correct Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009057)

You are correct you know. Power makes right. They can lose money on an individual as long as they make enough elsewhere to make up for it.

Monday Morning I need to go to the bank anyways and I'll pay their bill in full. I already have the high ground on their Pres and I'll keep it.

When choosing any strategy one has to size up the playing field.

Good counsel.

Perhaps what I will do since we have letters in the mail is declare that I will pay the bills one (1) week late until my answering service is running or something like this and refuse to pay their late fees.

One has to look at where a phone company is vulnerable.

(1) Sales departments. These people _always_ answer the phone.

(2) Investor relations.

(3) Legal. This is a very very vulnerable target because litigation is expensive and profit margins are getting thinner. Other comments were how a lawyer loved a challenge. Sure. But when the bean counters start to add up the cost the lawyer is not going to be so glib.

(4) Letter. Always have a track record and always stay on the winning side of the case. Chose your strategy wisely.

Perhaps I didn't. But I can still pay on Monday and it was a Damn good Rant even for SlashDot and I feel good! :-)

besides. I can live without the answering service or plug in my machine from 15 years ago. It is an AT&T machine! Yup. I bought the best even tho I'm in Canada! ha!

Thanx man!

Small Claims.Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009287)

My strategy in small claims which is available to me here in Canada and which for the most part seems to be pretty fair is this.

1) file.

2) ask for a court order to reconnect the service.

3) While doing #2, pay into the court about $1000 bux to back up my request. I owe them $71 bux.

4) have all the paper work in order.

This gives the Judge the latitude to find me at fault if he wishes to do so and totally puts the telephone company in the defensive. The dispute becomes clearly one of service offered and payment offered and the payment is in the court. If the service is not offered then they have to defend their position.

I simply want my answering service running. I don't need to care how they do it even if I actually do know how they do it... and I do. What I don't know is why it is not working. This is their problem.

I think a court will find it unreasonable for them to expect me to wait on hold while they sort out why something they are responsible is not working. All that should be required is for me to communicate to them that the service they offer is not working.

I have communicated this over several months and so far - they have not picked up the ball.

I will say to anyone contemplatimg court. Put your money where your mouth is. If you ask for something be prepared to back it up with more than a whine.

Re:Small Claims.Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009513)

Shut Up Already! You Fucking Loser!

You're a loser now, you'll be a loser in court, and when it's all over you'll discover that your girlfriend (or is it boyfriend, you fuckin' fag) has been fucking the telephone lineman that lives in the house down the street and 'round the corner.... AND THAT"S WHY YOU HAVE NO ANSWERING SERVICE!

My suggestion is to kill yourself now. That way at least she's (he's) sorta obligated to attend the funeral. That's all you have left. Grab the bull and ride it!

Re:Small Claims.Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (4, Insightful)

vmfedor (586158) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009535)

I take it you've never worked a customer service job in your life, my friend. Being rude is never, ever a constructive option. It doesn't mean you have to be a pushover, but telling the operator that you're not going to pay your bill and generally freaking out on them is not a way to get anything you want and have people still respect you. It's akin to a temper tantrum by a child, sure they'll get the candy just to shut them up but everyone knows that they're being spoiled little brats.


I'm not trying to say that you haven't been wronged by AT&T, I'm just saying that believing it's "their problem" isn't correct, because it's obviously YOUR problem, because YOU'RE the one whose answering service isn't working. And instead of acting like an adult you rant like a little kid and pound and stamp your fists and threaten to beat them up if they don't "pick up the ball." I've worked customer service jobs in the past and although I've never refused to help someone based on them being rude I sure as hell wasn't going any extra miles for them. But I also have known other fellow agents who had no remorse about fucking around with people like you that demand, demand, demand. Usually the ruder you are the longer you're on hold, that's not a coincidence.


You're taking the proper action but you need to chill out on the hate speech. Realize that the "Company" is just an illusion and that you're really talking to someone that just needs to pay their rent at the end of the month and doesn't need some dick call them up and refuse to stay on hold, even though the agent most likely can't do anything about it themselves. Take legal action if you must but don't get all bent out of shape about it! Or, you know, you could switch providers....

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (4, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009225)

I love people who think they are in the right when they arn't and have power that they don't.

You will be charged like it or not, they can and will get the money out of you for a service they are provided. Going "a part is missing" is NO EXCUSE for not paying the bill. If you keep it up they'll take you to court and win, then send a nice bayliff round to remove your goods if you still refuse to pay up.

I suggest you ring up and act POLITELY to the staff and they will help you get your answering service back on. It's all good and well that you go in with your mouth running, but they are people NOT the company, if you appeal to their nature (make them feel you're greatful for their time and help) they are more than likely to help you rather than shrug you off as "that dick who shouted at me".

Remember you're a fish in a barrel, they have all the power (oh yea you have a tiny amount of money, wooo you can buy a lollipop!), even the longest rung (the call centre) have the power over if you get results or not. So if you speak to them as human beings and use a little politeness they will use their little bit (read 'a lot') of power to help you get your service back.

Goto a play like Customers_suck on Livejournal. A lot of it is "this complete back came in earlier, bitched like fuck so I acted politely and pushed her off" but there are also posts like "this nice guy came in, he was really polite and patient even though I was having a horrible day. I was exhausted but bent over backwards to help the poor chap". And maybe you'll see that your mouth and "OMG I'LL SUE YOU! DON'T HOLD ME!" infact make you the biggest bump in your little ego based road.

Be nice, it does more than stops your mouth hitting you on the ass.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (2, Insightful)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009665)

When I subscribed to Time Warner Cable, several times I stated I wanted Digital+Variety tier.

They hooked me up, they charged me for Digital tier (no Variety), and they installed Digital tier (no Variety).

Didn't take me all that long to call customer service to bitch. I wasn't (at least intentionally) rude, just like "just thought I'd mention, I asked for Digital+Variety, you only gave me Digital (and only charged me for Digital)" - took it to be an honest mistake, and in a few minutes it was corrected. First day was a bit jumpy but I've been running fine ever since. Politeness and the benefit of the doubt go a long way.

-uso.

Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (Translation) (2, Insightful)

Debian Cabbit (412271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009263)

Ooh, ooh. I've heard this kind of issue before. Seeing as I work support for a cable company (that will remain nameless) doing VoIP support, let's go through this line by line and translate, shall we?

The Phone Company DOES care. You damn right they care. They like to get paid.
I think my phone company is nothing but a bunch of greedy bastards, so I will use this fact to treat anyone I deal with from said company like a piece of shit.

I refuse to wait on hold. Any phone company that offers an answering service for its customers certainly should be able to set one up where its customers can leave a message for them.
I am self-important and feel that I have the right to talk to someone right away at busy times, screw anyone waiting patiently in the queue, I shouldn't have to wait 5, er... 40 minutes for a rep!

My answering service for instance has not been working since last November. I actually think they shut it off deliberately because when I didn't like the over billing I contacted Investor Relations and their legal department. Seems the phone company cares about its Investors. Seems this is a direct line into the corporate management. Go figure eh?

My answering service stopped working at the same time I was dealing with other billing issues, most likely something that happened while dealing with those issues, something that got overlooked by the rep that legal had me dealing with, but rather than bring it up with them, I'd rather just not pay my bill, because if its not fixed magically, I'LL SUE, I TOLD THEM I'D SUE!@111111

Note: The legal department has to deal with legal issues. If you want something done then write a letter or fax the legal department and threaten them. They are smart and they are high priced help. The Legal Department does not want to deal with this shit either.

Always talk to legal first instead of the people paid to help you. They'll go out of their way to just shut you up so you're not a nuisance. You always come before anyone else, after all!

Well - seems the COMPANY PRESIDENT phoned me. Seems he didn't like me suggesting that after my bill has been PAID IN FULL BEFORE THE DUE DATE that its not ok for them to restrict my line and seems they also don't like me changing the amount owing and paying what I owe and telling them it is THEIR job to straighten their accounting out not mine and I'm not willing to wait on hold while they do it

Seems they think it is My responsibility to take up with the bank the time it takes for the bank to transfer the money into their accounts. This is despite the fact that they admitted the money was in their account at the time they restricted the service and they simply didn't check. The bank was excellent. Note when the line is restricted someone will answer the phone. This person noted the bill had been paid in full. They left the line restricted for about 4 days. They restricted it the day the bill was due. I paid in advance.


Some rep called me sounding important, so it had to be the company president. He has nothing better to do than talk with me, of course! Anyway, apparently either I made a payment in escrow or mailed a check and did not give enough time for it to PROCESS before the due date, and also decided they charged me too much, so I didn't pay the minimum due. THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO DISCONNECT MY SERVICE IF I SEND PAYMENT 2 DAYS BEFORE THE DUE DATE WHAT I THINK IS DUE!

My Position: THE BANK IS YOUR AGENT, NOT MINE. You pay the bank for this service. Not me. If YOU have an issue with the bank then YOU take it up with the bank. Not Me! I told the guy to walk down the hall and ask his legal department.

HOW DARE THEY GIVE ME FLACK FOR MAKING PAYMENTS AT THE LAST SECOND! If they are still processing the check and can't verify if it has cleared, ITS NOT MY PROBLEM! I don't have time in my busy life for things like mailing payments a week or more ahead of time, or making credit card payments online/over the phone! I told that guy to talk to legal, because I am obviously an armchair lawyer and know everything there is to know about laws covering this kind of thing!

Next day the bill was corrected. Same day my answering service quit.

They took care of the issue in the same way they would have had I had enough patience to call for assistance, but as stated earlier, when they did so, it caused the answering service to stop working and the rep working on it didn't notice the problem. It has to be a conspiracy!

Ok. I have quit paying their bill. When their accounting people call me I tell them: YUP. THE BILL IS NOT PAID! If you want it paid, get my answering service running and the bill will be paid in full within 1/2 hour. NO! I AM NOT WILLING TO WAIT ON HOLD. If YOU need someone to wait on hold while YOU do YOUR JOB then get YOUR COMPANY to hire someone to do it. I'm not willing to!

Since I decided it has to be conspiracy, I refuse to pay them, even if the answering service costs nothing or is minimal compared to the rest of the bill for the service that is actually working. I refuse to call support and have them work on it, I'm too important for that! They need to magically fix it, they should automatically KNOW my answering service doesn't work! How dare they do this to me!

Its at a stalemate. Its been there for 2 months. There are letters in the mail. These are legal threats. If they restrict my service I WILL file in court and I will serve them and I will ask for a court order to force them to reconnect the service. They will lose. They do not have a leg to stand on.

Well, someone told me that the account will eventually go delinquent and be interrupted for nonpay, but I SWEAR I WILL SUE! They have no right to interrupt the service I don't pay for! Any judge will surely see it my way! There is no way they can get away with this!

Seriously, get over yourself. You sound like a complete douche. I've dealt with your kind week after week. I know there are reps out there that don't do the best job, but I do whatever I can to help, and I still have to deal with horses' asses like you. The kind that, even after fixing everything, that still want credit for more than they were down, or for a problem with a service that we don't charge for (like e-mail), and still threaten to talk to a lawyer.

Everytime I've thought I heard it all, something new pops up, for example:

"What about all the cell phone time I've used calling you!?"

"I run a eBay business!" (on residential cable internet)

"I just cut my cable line and have no service! I need someone out right away!" (calling at 7PM on a weeknight)

"I want credit for my downtime!" (since they were down for not paying their bill)

See. The phone company does care? They care about their money. Rather than complain. Refuse to pay the bill until they deal with what they need to deal with. Its really simple actually!

And what is really simple is that you WILL be disconnected for not paying for your service, and if you think threatening them at that point will get anywhere, you'll just end up talking to collections in the long run, and any judge WILL laugh you out of court since you chose to not pay for your service.

Get over yourself. You are NOT that important. Any good agent will look at you as equally as the next person waiting in the queue. We will do what we can to help you, but it doesn't mean we will like your self-important ass if you call in demanding everything on a silver platter.

Takin the bait Re:The Phone Company DOES care! (2, Informative)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009431)

1) we exchanged names. I know who he is. I have not mentioned names.

2) I back up the bills paid with paper work.

3) They had from February 2006 until Nov 2006 to fix the bill. They didn't do it. I complained every month.

4) My answering service has not been running from Nov 2006 until now.

5) They have my phone # my fax # and my email address(s). I am easy to get ahold of. I do not put people on hold.

6) I usually pay my bills before the due date. I walk over to the bank which is within about 2 blocks once or twice a month. I take my bills due over the next couple weeks with me and pay them.

Your interpretation is posted for the world to view. If it goes to court you can get transcripts.

(short form)

I did nothing wrong here. I am illustrating in a fashion that does not expose the management of any firms what the issues are. I do not know if the CEO of the firm in question reads /. I suspect many of their technical staff do read /.

I do think that many people might look at several strategies required to deal with the issues and I have posted elsewhere in this thread comments on what the companies are facing... which is perhaps a death sentence... but I won't go that far.

From your comments I would also conclude that you have not been in court as often as I have. If so... then I recommend you avoid court. To get $10 bux out be prepared to put $100 in. You have to convince the judge and these people are very experienced. You have to choose the correct side. If you plan on going to court then you better be prepared to back up what you say.

Welcome to the new AT&T (3, Funny)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008561)

Welcome to the new AT&T.

Fuck you very much.

The Rape of Ma Bell (4, Interesting)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008567)

I highly recommend the reading of the "Rape of Ma Bell" written by two ex-AT&T engineers who were around during the halcyon days of Ma Bell. You can download it for free at: http://www.porticus.org/bell/rapeofmabell.htm [porticus.org] It is an extremely thorough book that makes a good point that perhaps the breakup of Ma Bell could have possibly been the worst thing ever done "for the greater good." In short AT&T was punished for being too successful. Instead of creating an environment that was condusive to competition via minor regulation, the FCC busted up a very efficient organization in the attempt a competitive environment for the consumer, but really was just punishing AT&T for being too good at what it did. An argument could be made, "Hey if they did not break up the phone company, then we would still be paying through the nose for long distance and still renting phones!" Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008743)

Yes, I'm sure it would have been great for BELL to keep their illegal monopoly, on the other hand customers suffered. It turned out to be a good remedy since now we have *nix systems everywhere without paying licensing to Bell..

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008931)

Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as.
Basic economics is to say it. When the entrenched player is supported by massively expensive infrastructure, it is essentially impossible for a competitor to emerge "naturally", because who the fuck can afford to lay their own entire transcontinental phone cable network on the off-chance that once they'd invested billions upon billions of dollars on that, they might be able to build a successful business competing with a monopoly?

The very fact that competition had not emerged pretty much proves that it never would. And America would have been left behind: the Internet revolution would have taken place elsewhere, with Americans paying AT&T through the nose for the slowest of dialup connections, and today America would be a mere shadow of its true self, an economic backwater with no significant high-tech industry at all.

Corporate welfare? Just say NO. Break the suckers up and let them earn their place in the free market like everyone else.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008995)

Can you explain to me HOW competition could just come along when there is ONE company that has almost complete control over the market. And please, no Microsoft examples (they don't quite qualify as a monopoly yet, not until their is ACTUALLY no competition).

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (2, Informative)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009249)

Name one industry where the price of entry is so high that a company can have a true monopoly. The phone company is about as close as it gets because they rely on laying down expensive lines over public land that needs clearance from different organizations.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009051)

"Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as."

Except that they would have been bought out and assimilated by that monopoly, and any innovation discarded, or they would use dirty tricks to keep them out (after all, they have that much power as a monopoly), as Microsoft did to Netscape. Why do you think they were such a force to begin with? Please read up more on IBM, Standard Oil, Microsoft and other monopolies before making comments like this...

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009131)

I generally agree that splitting Bell was pointless, and only the regulations really needed to be changed. That was obvious years ago, and it's brutally obvious now that they've been allowed to merge over the years into the current, non-competitive, duopoly. However...

Well, who's to say that competition would not have come along anyway, especially if "everyone" was so pist off with the old curmudgeon that AT&T was always portrayed as.

Umm... everyone with any sense.

Bell wasn't a natural monopoly, it was a de jury monopoly. You were prevented, by law, from stringing-up your own telephone wires across a city. Bell, and Bell alone, was allowed to do so.

It couldn't have been until modern technology, like cell phones and VoIP, that any competition could possibly exist. And even there, it's likely Bell would have refused to allow anyone to connect to the POTS network, and likely would have gone to congress and been granted a monopoly on cell and VoIP services.

How could competition POSSIBLY have even come exist without deregulation?

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009215)

Bell wasn't a natural monopoly, it was a de jury monopoly
Unanimous or split?

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009447)

Bell wasn't a natural monopoly, it was a de jury monopoly. You were prevented, by law, from stringing-up your own telephone wires across a city. Bell, and Bell alone, was allowed to do so.

You were also prevented, by law, from hooking up your own equipment at your end of the wire. Funny thing about monopolies that most people don't or won't understand, every single one has some sort of government or legal protection from competition. A monopoly cannot exist without this protection. There is no such thing as a "natural" monopoly.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009563)

There is no such thing as a "natural" monopoly.

What are you, an economics drop-out? There have been numerous, real-world examples of natural monopolies in the past.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009609)

Name one that held up, please? Without outside protection? I'll be more than happy to admit I'm wrong.

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (2, Interesting)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009149)

With Ma Bell in charge, we might have better telephone service, but the Internet as we know it wouldn't have happened.

Much as I mourn the loss of Bell Labs, on the whole, the breakup of AT&T was necessary, and it was a good thing. Now, if we could only repeat that with Microsoft...

Re:The Rape of Ma Bell (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009443)

You must not remember $0.25/min long distance in 1980 dollars, with no alternative carriers and no other options. And if yo udon't remember that, you certainly don't remmeber having to lease a phone - never owning it - in perpetuity becuase if you didn't lesae one you didn't get service.

What they should have done - and what they should do with cable, power, and all public utility services which have installed infrastructure - is to require separation of physical plant from the actual data/power/other services. No company or conglomerate may own any part of both a plant and a service.

do you even have cable TV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009459)

Almost anybody who subscribes to or has ever subscribed to cable TV can tell you that no matter how ticked off you get with a service provider granted a monopoly over right-of-way for running lines down your street there is no way a competing company would set itself up.

To Customers (1)

TheLinuxWarrior (240496) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008595)

Can you hear me now? heh

My experience (4, Interesting)

Evets (629327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008649)

I spent a good deal of my professional life in the telco arena before I opted to regain my sanity - both on the 911 side of the street and on the telco (in some cases both).

911 isn't rocket science, but a lot of the "integration" points are much more manual than you might think. 911 is as serious as it gets - mistakes can cost lives. Many of the smaller players have just a single guy or a couple of guys that are tasked with ensuring that 911 gets their information and validating that they processed the information correctly. A history of mistakes on either side of the street would certainly mean that the relationship can no longer continue until things get worked out - and that means either the technical people start working together in a more friendly manner or that those people get replaced. Either way, that process can be time intensive as there are not a lot of people out there who have experience with the data models, the technology, and the business models.

There is no way that this wasn't a looming problem that was discussed over and over in meetings, but knowing the telco environment it isn't unreasonable to assume that even though the problem was urgent it was not properly addressed. I've been in software design meetings where the subject of whether to use the phrase "Work In Progress", "In Progress", or "Working" took the better part of three days simply because strong personalities were involved that wouldn't let it go (and in the end executive involvement was necessary to move forward).

This isn't a conspiracy to push people back to land lines. It's a case of management incompetence. A conspiracy would require a spirit of cooperation, and that simply does not exist at the management level or at the executive level within the telco vertical.

They are kicking out only customers without E911 (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008651)

Apparently it's not supported in some areas. May be inconvenient, but having no way to get help in an emergency sucks way more.

Re:They are kicking out only customers without E91 (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008715)

e911 basically just puts up on the operaters screen your location info.

without e911, you can call 911 fine, you just have to tell them where you are, just like it used to be.

i don't particularly see why it is so critical.

Re:They are kicking out only customers without E91 (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009037)

You wouldn't until the day you call but are incapable of speaking. Or the 5 year old calls to tell them daddy won't wake up.

E911 was created to overcome these problems and enhanced the system.

The Slashdots who protest about how simple it all is should roll up their sleeves and dig into the issue. Money to be made, I'm sure.

Re:They are kicking out only customers without E91 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009315)

When I was with AT&T and had E911 available on my account, I felt like test calling 911 to see if it functioned. I got no answer on my 911 call and it just kept ringing and ringing. Having AT&T tell you that your account supports E911 sadly isn't a guarantee that you can even call 911 at all! I had to phone their support and inform them of my inability to call 911 before my 911 calling functioned properly.

Re:They are kicking out only customers without E91 (1)

dzurn (62738) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009433)

Dear Judge:

I was visiting a friend when he had a heart attack. I picked up their phone to dial 911 and it didn't work. Now he's dead.

So why couldn't the PHONE COMPANY make a phone that works with 911? My friend's lawyer is now suing you for eleventy-billion dollars.

And he's going to get it.

The lawyer now owns (literally, not "ownz") AT&T.

Its not about 911 services (3, Interesting)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008665)

Is it me or is quite obvious that they are not making large amounts of money with VOIP. It' a distuptive technology. It is challenging what were high profit revenue models. Therefore they are not making as much money. Therefore they dont like it.

Re:Its not about 911 services (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008789)

It's also the same market as web designers were about 8 years ago or ISP's were about 10 years ago. Lots of small players think they can set up on a shoe string and a back-of-the-napkin business plan, get a bit of funding, and enter the market only to underprice more solid businesses and underprice themselves and the competitors right out of the market.

If you're competent, sell them your services for infrastructure design, warn them of the technical foibles, but get paid in real cash, not stock.

iPhone to blame? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008801)

With the rollout of Apple's iPhone about 30 days away, this might be AT&T's hamfisted way of encouraging VoIP customers to 'switch'. Illogical and paranoid - welcome to the new AT&T.

AT&T played ball with the NSA so they are allo (3, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008811)

They are allowed to become a monopoly once again.

They are allowed to do anything they want.

They are dropping VOIP customers because IPs can be spoofed and firewalls used.

It was messing with the NSA's equipment in tracking people.

Buisiness As Usual At AT&T (2, Insightful)

TheGeneration (228855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008817)

It struck me as absolutely bizzare that SBC would want to be associated with the AT&T monopoly identity. Now I see that it goes even further than just a brand association, it is a monopoly mentality in customer management. As long as AT&T thinks that they can get away with treating their customers this way they will continue to treat them this way.

VOIP threatens their business viability (5, Interesting)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008889)

With systems like Asterix, the very core of the telecommunications business is threatened.

For DECADES they supported a huge beauracracy through usary long distance rates. A telephone switch is really a computer. As the prices of computers and electonics went down, very little was returned to the customer by way of cost savings. One might note that the present generation of the telecommunications industry has inherited a substantial infrastructure from our grandparents. In many respects and especially when it comes to the "last mile", the industry has not upgraded from what was built prior to the 1960's.

Next, advances in technology have increased the available bandwidth by orders of magnitude.

This puts the telephone company in the position where they bill on T1 or E1 service for instance in the vicinity of $1000 per month for the same bandwidth that they wish to bill $29 bux a month for by way of data services. The problem is further complicated by the fact that for an individual subscriber they want o bill for the voice bits PLUS the data bits. We all know the data bits can carry the voice as well.

The problem is that its all data. The switches and the routers see voice and data the same way. This is not true of antiquated systems used in some 3rd world areas, but it has been true of the 1st world telecommunications industry and especially North America for at least 30 years.

So, how do they justify billing one bloke over $1000 bux and billing the next bloke $29 bux for the same damn thing? How? By trying to keep the underlying technology mysterious. By hiding this from the general public. By dirty tactics like delaying certain packet types. By being deceitful.

The thing is that once _anyone_ has a broadband connection in place, the POTS voice dial up side uses so little bandwidth that it can easily be run over the digital link. The issue is time delays and here is where there are some problems.

The data on the telecommuncations system is multiplexed and thus a byte of data placed into a switch will show up at its destination within a known number of milliseconds. This is not true of the IP traffic.

What one could do if one had control over the "whole system" is set it up so that part of the bandwidth would be filled with time sensitive traffic and the remainder would be filled with IP traffic. This is basically how ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) works now. I won't bore anyone with details.

By doing this we can guarantee that a byte dropped into the channel will arrive within "x" milliseconds. Probably the IP traffic which takes the back seat will also arrive within "x" milliseconds as well. Voice over IP takes advantage of this.

Voice traffic is digitized at 64kB/sec = 8192 bytes per second with switching and signalling stollen from the bit stream. This is where 56kb comes from. Instead of multiplexing the voice bytes, we can instead gather up a bunch of the bytes and drop them in a packet and hope they arrive in time. If we gathered up say about 8000 bytes then we would have 1 second of voice. If instead we gather up say 80 then we have 1/100th of a second of voice. A UDP packet with say 80 bytes or 1/100th of a second of voice will probably arrive in time.

We can also do some cleaver things. We can put some imperceptible delays into the bit stream and create a little buffering - a few milliseconds worth - and gain tolerance of the bunchyness we get in the byte stream of VOIP. As most people know. Its pretty good.

But it leaves the telecommunications industry in a dilemma because they offered a reliable time guaranteed transmission mechanism for voice data via the ATM transmission method and now we don't want to use it because its priced too high. Too high here means higher than what they could sell the surplus bandwidth of their networks for. So in effect by offering IP traffic at $29 per month they cut their own throats and what saves their bacon for now is that most people don't understand how it works an hence don't realize there are many alternatives.

-----------

The bottom line is that the switched telephone industry as we know it is probably obsolete. We do not need it anymore. We need line service. The telecommunications industry as I see it has to be torn apart and re-invented as a line maintenance organization. It should be their responsibility to keep the infrastructure running and that is about it.

Next we need a separate organization to handle the issues of what flows on the lines. A subscriber should be able to pay for the "dry copper local loop" as it is called here and pay for any ISP he wants to after that. It then becomes the ISP's responsibility to handle all aspects of the digital traffic the subscriber generates and receives.

In this model, servers like an Asterix server take over all responsibility for voice traffic and whether it happens via ATM or IP mode is an engineering choice made by engineers and technical administrators and not by sales and marketing people. In this model, there is no Long Distance anymore. Also in this model one digital link with perhaps a backup can handle ALL digital communications and this includes Television and pay per view and movies on demand and whatever else might develop.

But this is a lot different than the telecommunications model we have now where a companies can charge over 50x difference and a for instance is $29 bux per month for a DSL link running at 2-10 Mbits/sec and over $1000 for a T1 link running at 1.5 Mbits/sec (24x64kb). Then we have the cable TV companies also trying to protect their revenue stream and the Satellite TV companies vying for market share as well.

There is a huge amount of redundancy and overlap. There are also huge beauracracies which have built up over decades and they can't survive when their $1000/month services is taken over by a $29/month service.

The way I see it this is a wonderful opportunity for small ISP's to install asterix servers and offer POTS services over the same lines they currently run the DSL connections on. But probably what has to happen is that small business has to buy the "last mile" infrastructure and do ti from the grass roots up. The problem with this idea is that 802.11 can eliminate the need for wires.

Then the individual local ISP's can organise fiber and other high speed connections between themselves and basically eliminate AT&T and the rest of the dinosaurs.

So I kinda think this is where its going to go but the road is going to be bumpy.

--------------

Oh - a for instance of the usary rates? An IP address is about the same as a phone number. So for a dynamic IP we have the number assigned more or less on demand. Numbers are free. God make them for us to use. There is no shortage of numbers. Now this would have worked in the 30's if people only wanted to phone out on their telephones. With cleaver enough equipment which they didn't invent back then they could potentially have created a phone system when anytime a subscriber phones out the system assigns whatever phone number is handy at the time. Ie. A "dynamic phone number" is analogus to a "Dynamic IP address".

The thing is with a system like this people could never phone in to a subscriber. Subscribers could only phone out. In order to phone in you need a "static number".

This is why anyone who wants to run a web server has to pay extra and normally over 2x as much as the people who don't run webservers.

Of course it is unfair. It is even more unfair when you note that people who run webservers are creating the content that everyone else wants to get access too. Of course people who run webervers do not get paid for the service the provide unless they can find a way to justify it from other business activities or find a way to coax people to pay in order to view what their webservers contain. The porn industry has solved this to a certain extent. Very few others have. So the telecommuncations and ISP industries are basically riding on the backs of those who create most of the content on the net.

This is why SlashDot for instance asks people to subscribe. I rather think SlashDot offers a great service and that their uplink should be paying them access for the content in the SlashDot servers.

One minor nit to pick. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009011)

There is, in fact, a few major differences between that $1000 T1 line and the $29 DSL line.

The first is data rate, yes they both offer (at least) 1.5 mbit downstream (and the DSL line may give you more). However, the DSL line is asynchronous, and may only give you 128 or 256 kbit upstream. Last time looked, the lowest synchronous DSL avalable in this area was around $90 for 384 kbits.

Next there's the IP address given. The T1 will almost certainly come with static IP. That DSL connection at $29 gives you dynamic IP. They are just now offering DSL with static IP, 1.5 mbit down, and 128 kbit up, for a wee bit under $50.

Finally there is service. Have the pole your DSL comes in on get taken out by a drunk driver and you will probably have to wait a few days to get back online. A friend got their T1 taken out by a drunk driver and they had people on site in a couple of hours with service restored in under 6 hours. You won't get that for $29 a month.

Re:One minor nit to pick. (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009523)

They are just now offering DSL with static IP, 1.5 mbit down, and 128 kbit up, for a wee bit under $50.

Which "they" are you talking about? SBC has been offering that fixed IP service for at least four years now. Esentially it's their "business class" DSL with the name filed off. I have the 6M/384K service (though I get either 604 or 640 up) for $99/mo or so.

Letters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19008961)

"In the past two weeks AT&T has sent out disconnect letters to VOIP customers...


Still using letters ? They are a communication company and do not use their own product?

This of course due to legal technicallities, but that too shows the status of phone technology.

Thats a matter of philosophy (2, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19008993)

These stuff show company philosophies. You shouldnt expect anything that would mean caring for the customer from a company that tried to control and spoil one of the biggest inventions of all time, the internet.

Since it was not profitable, they just scratched off their customers and thats that. Same approach with net neutrality; "Im gonna screw anyone in any fashion as long as i can, and then do away with them"

why would anybody care? (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009115)

With cable or DSL, you can choose among dozens of VOIP services. Who cares whether AT&T offers one too?

Verizon has Darth Vader as their spokesman (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009451)

And you're not convinced that this strategic move wasn't actually inspired by the Verizon patent take-down of Vonage? I realize that this may a bit tinfoil-hatish, but why not move everybody back you your landlines. You'll probably make more money, and you'll avoid a court date with Verizon. Sounds like a win for AT&T. And in the game of corporations, winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.

iPhone, duck! (2, Insightful)

chrism238 (657741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009297)

Well this doesn't bode well for VOIP on the iPhone, under Cingular, does it?

Voip on dsl (1)

adarklite (1033564) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009389)

AT&T uses dsl for their internet service. I find it amusing that they even offered voip. You have a phone connection right there to use. Who cares if their long distance is cheaper. You still have to pay for the entire service.

This will end well... (2, Interesting)

spoon00 (25994) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009483)

Probably a precursor to AT&T blocking all VOIP traffic on their lines. Hmmmm, anti-trust.

Economics of Net Neutrality [aei-brookings.org]

I'm on the opposite side (1)

Admiral Llama (2826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19009567)

In my neighborhood, we have a bulk agreement with the local cable TV agreement to get their VOIP service. Naturally it's total crap. Vonage over their cable modem is less crap. I'm trying to get a damn phone, a regular copper POTS phone but the phone company won't wire us up due to the bulk agreement. I have a bunch of "high tech" options available to me (cell, VOIP, cable VOIP, VOIP over fixed wireless), but not a single damn one of them work for me as well as a straight up two wire copper phone right out of the late 70s.

Power goes out, possibly for a week at a time? Copper phones work. Need to fax something? Copper phones work. Every try fighting a DirecTV Tivo to dial out over VOIP? Copper phones work. Can you wire your home's alarm system to your cell phone (without that extra $150 device and an extra $10 a month)? Copper phones work. Someone calls in while your cable modem is glitching again? Copper phones work. Need to dial 911? Copper phones work.

I'm not some kind of luddite here (/. id in the low 4 digits), but when you need rock solid 99.99999% reliability, you can't beat the old tech that's been around for decades upon decades.

Re:I'm on the opposite side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009631)

Someone calls in while your cable modem is glitching again?

Wow...you must have one really crappy cable modem if it even glitches. Mine never glitches.

Did you ever think? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19009587)

That AT&T is suddenly disconnecting VoIP customers because they can't convince Verizon to give them royalty-free access to the IP that Verizon used to destroy Vonage?
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