TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: FWD: Cell Phone Registry - Not Necessary

FWD: Cell Phone Registry - Not Necessary

Marcus Didius Falco (
Sun, 01 May 2005 22:35:26 -0400

The following, from SNOPES corresponds with my understanding of the
issue. There is a concern about text-messaging SPAM to cell phones,
which has not been a major concern as yet (except in a few markets),
but may become one. There have been a few issues with people getting
telemarketing calls on their cell phones (particularly, but not
always, when they have "ported" a landline number to a cell phone), so
there may be an advantage to putting your cell phone number on the
national do-not-call list.

* Original: FROM..... Lyle Davis

I've already received a mailing on this and if you haven't, you likely will
fairly soon.


Here's the real information from

Claim: A directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published.
Status: Multiple:
a.. A consortium of wireless providers is planning to
create a 411 (directory assistance) service for cell phone
numbers: True.

b.. You must register your cell phone with the national "Do Not
Call" directory before 1 January 2005 to prevent your number from being
provided to telemarketers: False.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

A directory of cell phone numbers will soon be published for
all consumers to have access to. This will open the doors for solicitors to
call you on your cell phones, using up the precious minutes that we pay
lots of money for. The Federal Trade Commission has set up a "do not call"
list. It is called a cell phone registry. To be included on the "do not
call" list, you must call from the number you wish to register.

The number is 1-888-382-1222 or you can go to their website at


Starting Jan 1, 2005, all cell phone numbers will be made
public to telemarketing firms. So this means as of Jan 1, your cell phone
may start ringing off the hook with telemarketers, but unlike your home
phone, most plans pay for your incoming calls. These telemarketers will eat
up your free minutes and end up costing money. According to the National Do
Not Call List, you have until Dec 15, 2004 to get on the national "Do Not
Call List" for cell phones. You can either call 1-888-382-1222 from the
cell phone that you wish to have put on the "do not call list" or you can
do it online at

Registering only takes a minute, is in effect for 5 years. All
of you will need to register before Dec 15. You may want to also do your
own personal cell phones.

Origins: As the use of cellular telephone technology has grown
tremendously in the last several years, many consumers have given up
maintaining traditional land-line phone service entirely. They prefer the
convenient portability of cell phones, as well as the privacy: So far, cell
phone numbers have generally been excluded from printed phone directories
and directory assistance services, and protections have been put in place
to restrict telemarketing calls to cell phones.

Soon, however, some of the privacy that cell phones provide may be
eroded. Six national wireless companies (AllTel, AT&T Wireless, Cingular,
Nextel, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile) have banded together and hired Qsent,
Inc. to produce a Wireless 411 service. Their goal is to pool their
listings to create a comprehensive directory of cell phone customer names
and phone numbers that would be made available to directory assistance
providers. (In most places, telephone users can call directory assistance
at 411 [for local numbers] or by dialing an area code plus 555-1212 [for
out-of-area numbers] and, by providing enough information to identify an
individual phone customer [usually a full name and city of residence],
obtain that customer's phone number.

Many cell phone customers are opposed to the proposed Wireless 411
service for a number of reasons:

a.. They prefer the privacy of knowing that their cell phone
numbers are available only to those to whom they provide them. They don't
want other people being able to obtain their cell phone numbers without
their consent or knowledge.

b.. They are concerned that their cell phone numbers will be sold
to telemarketers (or other groups that might make undesirable use of those

c.. They see one of the goals of the Wireless 411 service as a
ploy to spread cell phone numbers to wider circles of friends and
acquaintances, who will then place calls to cell phones and thereby force
cell customers to pay for additional wireless minutes.

The wireless companies behind the proposed Wireless 411 service
contend that their service will be beneficial to cellular customers
and that they have addressed those customers' major concerns:

a.. The service would save money for the estimated five
million customers who use only cellular phones and currently pay to
have their cell phone numbers listed in phone directories.

b.. The Wireless 411 service would be strictly "opt-in" - that is,
wireless customers will be included in the directory only if they
specifically request to be added. The phone numbers of wireless customers
who do nothing will not be included, those who choose to be listed can have
their numbers removed from the directory if they change their minds, and
there is no charge for requesting to be included or choosing not to be

c.. The Wireless 411 information will not be included in printed
phone directories, distributed in other printed form, made available via
the Internet, or sold to telemarketers. It will be made available only to
operator service centers performing the 411 directory assistance service.

Nonetheless, many consumers don't trust the Wireless 411 consortium to
uphold their promises, and although Qsent and its clients plan to make
the Wireless 411 service available sometime in 2005, its
implementation in that time frame is far from certain, as the wireless
companies are still fighting proposed legislation which seeks to
regulate wireless phone directories.

So, although the gist of the message quoted at the head of this page
is correct in alerting consumers to a proposed directory of cell phone
numbers, it is misleading in stating that such a directory will "soon
be published" (the word "published" implies making a printed directory
available, which the wireless consortium maintains they will not do)
and in directing readers to sign up with the The National Do Not Call
Registry. The latter step will not keep wireless customer listings
out of the proposed Wireless 411 database - it will only add their
phone numbers to a list of numbers off-limits to most telemarketers, a
step which is premature (because the Wireless 411 directory has not
yet been implemented) and largely unnecessary (because the Wireless
411 directory information is not supposed to be supplied to
telemarketers, and because FCC regulations already in place block the
bulk of telemarketing calls to cell phones).

Some versions of the exhortation to cell phone users to add their
names to the Do Not Call Registry erroneously state there is a 15
December 2004 deadline for getting listed. Says Lois Greisman, the
Federal Trade Commission official who oversees the anti-telemarketing
registry: "There is no deadline; there never has been a deadline to

However, belief that there might be such a cut-off coupled with the
e-mailed alerts themselves have served to multiply many times over the
number of registrations. Since the initial wave of sign-ups following
the 2003 launch of the list, registrations have come in at the rate of
200,000 new numbers a week. Yet in the final week of November 2004,
nearly 1 million new subscribers were added, and in the first week of
December 2004, that figure jumped to 2 million. At this point in time,
69 million phone numbers are contained in the registry.

Adding one's cell phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry
(even if currently unnecessary) won't likely have any adverse effect,
but customers should be aware of exactly what that action will or will
not accomplish.

Updates: Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular Corp. have always been
opposed to the proposed cell phone directory, and initial partners
Sprint Corp. and Alltel Corp. have since pulled away from the project
due to concerns about bad publicity and possible new government
regulations. So, as of January 2005, even if the cell phone directory
database was compiled as planned, at least 45% of U.S. cell phone
numbers wouldn't be included.

In April 2005, USA Today reported that registrations for the national
do-not-call list for the week ending April 2 were about double the
normal level, and registrations for the following week reached a peak
five times higher than average. The newspaper also reiterated what we
stated above:

... the anxiety is unfounded. First, it's illegal to make sales
pitches to wireless phones by using automatic dialers - which is how the
vast majority of telemarketing calls are placed. (One reason is that
cellular users must pay for incoming calls.)

Also, most of the big wireless carriers have chosen either not to take
part in the directory or to put off any plans to do so in light of
consumer fears. They say any directory would include only those
customers who agreed to participate and that the numbers would not be
shared with telemarketers or anyone else. Congress has considered a
bill to codify such rules.

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