TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Home Phones Face Uncertain Future

Re: Home Phones Face Uncertain Future

Jeff nor Lisa (
29 Oct 2004 08:34:01 -0700

Joseph <> wrote

>> The landline phone's peak has come and gone, but it won't be gone.
>> Anyone who has complained about the sound quality of a cell phone
>> connection (nearly all of us, I would think) can attest to this.

> Over 90% of the time my cell phone voice quality is every bit as good
> as wireline phone service.

Why should someone tolerate 90% when they can have 100%?

Cell phones still have a way to go to catch up to wireline reliability
and quality.

People joke about making crackling noises, but conversations still
break up in mid call, and calls don't go through.

Cell phones depend on radio waves. Obviously in the 100 years that
we've had radio the technology has improved tremendously.

However, radio waves still remain sensitive to interference and
blockages. Are today's cell phones sensitive to bad sunspot activity?
What happens when lightning hits a cellphone tower -- does it continue
functioning without any call interruption? Can modern tiny cellphones
work well in isolated rural areas far from the interstate -- do the
towers have that wide a coverage?

Cellphones also require the battery be kept charged. Presumably
that's easier now and we don't have to worry about partial charges
("memory") or overchaging. But do batteries wear out from heavy use
and frequent charge/discharge cycling?

I don't think landline phones are going away. For years the landline
was primarily used for voice with data hitch-hiking along. Now with
things like DSL I forsee that data will be the primary and voice
hitched along on top of a data line, with the same or even more
features and reliability for voice.

> Not only for home service, but look at pay phones. Pay phones not
> only are becoming scarce (my local super market just remodeled and
> they decided that they were not going to install pay phones since they
> were just being used to make drug sales.)

This is true, my local library pulled its payphone and many patrons
still ask to use one. But payphones are a different market than home
or office wireline phones. Cell phones definitely took a lot of
business away from payphones, however, there remains more payphone
business than expected. Not everyone carries their cellphone with
them at all times, not everyone even has a cellphone, and sometimes
cellphones aren't working (ie dead battery). I think we'll see fewer
payphones, especially where there was once a battery of them, but
they'll still be around. A brand new train line put payphones on
every platform (though partly to serve as a 911 service in case of
psgr emergency).

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I had a weird experience today with
my cell phone, which normally works pretty well. This is Neewollah
week here, and downtown was totally jammed, with cars and pedestrians
as to be expected. I was over at the Arco Building to pay my monthly
phone bill at Prairie Stream and for some reason looked at my cell
phone (from Cingular Wireless) which had changed from saying
'Cingular' at top of the LED screen and instead said 'Roam'. I tried
to make a call (we can do seven digits on local cell phone calls) but
the phone responded 'must have area code and number'. Okay, so I tried
620 plus the number I wanted, and this time it sat there and after a
minute or so started beeping. I looked at the LED and it said 'will
try to redial in five seconds.' It did that several times.

So I dialed 611 to get the Cingular Business Office and repair.
Instead, the phone told me 'you have reached Alltel'. The lady who
answered had no idea what was going on, and "are you sure your phone
is not on the Alltel network?" Of that I am positive it was not
changed. I cycled the power, and it came back up as Cingular. When I
then called 611 a second time, Cingular answered me. She asked me
where I was at and I told her right here in town as always, I never
get away these days. She asked 'where is that' and I told her in
Independence. She tapped on her keyboard, came back and said, "Aren't
you having some kind of Mardis Gras thing there this week?" I said we
were, and she said "that explains why our towers in the area are so
jammed up. We were full so you were handed off to the Alltel tower
which is in Liberty, KS at the Cell One large facility there. Look at
your meter and see what the signal strength is ... " I looked, it was
slightly above zilch, zero; usually I get a full, heavy signal since
Cingular installed their new tower in the Presbyterian Church steeple
over on Fourth Street. "There," she said, "now you see what happened?
Everyone in town must all be using their cell phone at the same time."
I said I hoped I did not get roaming charges added to my bill from the
Alltel people. She said I would not get charged anything extra, and
she was sorry for any confusion by having to add the area code to my
local dialing, etc. PAT]

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