TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Residents Fight to Keep Analog Cell Phones

Re: Residents Fight to Keep Analog Cell Phones

Fred Atkinson (
Thu, 28 Jul 2005 04:04:43 -0400

>> Johnny Smith has a new digital cell phone, but he relies on an older
>> analog bag phone when he travels the wide open spaces in the western
>> part of the state to line up cattle for sale at a local livestock
>> auction.

> I understand the older 'bag phones' can send out a much stronger
> signal. There are plenty of fringe reception areas even in
> "developed" states all over the U.S. If one looks closely at a
> carrier's map, they'll find lots of places with the different shade to
> indicate no or limited service.

That's probably always going to be true. There are very sparsely
populated areas that it is not cost effective to provide service.
Since cellular never incorporated (and probably never will) universal
telephone service, what is the financial justification for doing it?

> Clearly there is a need for such higher powered phones.

True, but these phones become resource intensive after a certain
amount of time. I'd go into the technical details, but most of the
folks here are already clear on that point. They are just going to
have to get something that is more current technology with a little
more power.

When I got the cellular installed in my current vehicle (which I bought
nine years ago, by the way), I asked if they could install a digital unit.
They said that none of the units that could be installed in cars were
digital. As far as I know, there weren't any made. I tried to get one to
replace it, but the cellular companies would only sell the little, hand held

IMHO, the drawback to these units (since I primarily had mine in the
car in case of breakdown, if there was an accident, or I witnessed a
crime or something like that) is that when you really need them, it's
a problem that you left it sitting on the kitchen table or on your
desk at work. What good does it do you then? To that end, I prefered
a unit that was permanently installed in my humble vehicle. But the
cell companies don't provide that any more.

My analog cellular is still in the car, but I discontinued service
when the economy went to hell a few years back. Most carriers would
not want to support it, I strongly suspect. If they do, I would
wonder about them.

> There are also those of us who have plain vanilla cell phones and
> call-plans who have no need or desire for fancy phones or services.
> Yet we are being pressured to spend our money to upgrade to stuff we
> don't want by forced obsolescence.

Forced obsolence is not done to make you buy new equipment. It's done
to keep pace with the technology and get more subscribers in the same
amount of bandwidth (resources). There are other reasons, but I won't
go into them. It is a fact of life we can't get away from.

> Years back GM got hammered by its "planned obsolescence" of
> automobiles. At least an automobile would physically wear out and had
> a limited life. Telephones, especially when not used often, don't
> wear out.

I don't agree with you there. I've had a bunch of telephones die on
me and have to be replaced over a period of years. This is especially
true with all the 'brand X' phones that are manufactured with the idea
of getting your money by providing something that costs next to
nothing to manufacture. For that reason, I now only go with good,
name brand phones (and most other things).

>> In rural areas where cellular towers are far apart, analog phones
>> often work when digital models can't get a signal. With the Federal
>> Communications Commission pushing the move to all-digital phone
>> service across the country, Smith and others in rural areas are urging
>> the agency to wait until more towers are built to improve service.

> Why is the FCC pushing this? Is it really good for the country or
> actually good for the carriers to make more money selling replacement
> phones and fancier services and plans?

It is good for conservation spectrum, reducing costs, increasing
functionality, creating more competition, allowing the different
companies to have more opportunities to identify a marketing niche,
etc. and the list goes on and on.

>> According to current timelines set up by the FCC, wireless companies
>> can phase out analog service by 2008.

> I get offers from my carrier to "upgrade" to digital. They'll sell me
> a crappy phone and double my monthly charge and give me LESS than I
> have now!

Tell them you'll consider it if you get a phone that is a good,
reliable name brand. And educate yourself as to what those name
brands are. And make them give you a plan that is comparable to what
you are currently paying. They want to get you off the old
technology. If you are firm on that point, they should find a way to
accomodate you.

You might also consider buying it on an AMEX card as I believe AMEX
extends the warranty on most purchases. And it gives you recourse in
case of a dispute.

Some years back, I bought a cell phone from AT&T (only because my
employer required me to have it, I didn't want the thing for my own
use). After about four months, a problem with the unit developed (I
won't go into the problem as it's irrelevant to the point I am trying
to make). I called AT&T about replacing it. The AT&T rep required me
to read her the numbers (model and other numbers) from the unit.

She told me that the unit was three years old and not under warranty. I
told her that that was ridiculous because I had purchased it new from AT&T
only four months before. I spoke to her supervisor and a number of other
folks, but AT&T insisted the phone was three years old and they wouldn't
replace it.

I called AMEX and told them the story. They immediately credited my
account for the full amount of the phone and I cancelled my service
with AT&T. I demanded that AT&T waive the cancellation fee since I
was canceling due to the fact that they were not honoring the warranty
on my phone. Miraculously, they did let me cancel without a
cancellation fee.

Using a credit card that extends the warranty on your phone does have
certain benefits.

>> The National Emergency Number Association, whose aim is to implement a
>> universal emergency telephone number system, opposes a blanket delay
>> in the move to the new digital phones, said Rick Jones, director of
>> operations issues for the organization. However, the group is also
>> willing to consider requests for waivers by individual companies in
>> areas where a delay might make sense, he said.

> Who the heck are these people?

That's a question I'd like to see answered myself.

> So my cell phone won't pinpoint me. (Actually I kind of like that.)
> But I'm pretty good with geography and know where I'm at.

With the FCC mandates to incorporate this feature into all cell phones
(for 911 use), you may not enjoy that forever.

> [public replies please]

You got it.

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