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A running theme on FOIB: Wireless Carriers are arrogant, stupid thieves who are squandering unprecedented opportunity to deliver services people want to use which are deeply influential to society, and to reap the financial rewards therein.

Instead, they’re hedgehogs, rolling up into a spiky ball every time anyone “threatens” the crutches they use to sustain their faltering businesses. Only by systematically removing these artificial retention tools can we force these carriers to become creative, innovative marketers who bring us services we actually need.

In the meantime, fuck ’em. Let’s force them to jump through expensive hoops and remove all of their spikes. They’ve been milking captive markets for too long.

-Ian.

—- http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030416/ap_on_hi_te/ cell_phone_numbers

Wireless Cos. Fight Rule on Phone Numbers Wed Apr 16, 9:15 AM ET Add Technology – AP to My Yahoo!

By DAVID HO, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – Despite static, dropped calls and dead zones, Jeff Danielson sticks with his cell phone service, not out of loyalty but because he can’t stand the thought of asking clients to call a new phone number.

“I’ve been unhappy with the service, but I’ve given up doing anything about it because I really don’t want to lose the number,” said Danielson, 27, a Washington technology consultant. “I’m afraid I would lose clients that way.”

Federal regulators are sympathetic with Danielson’s plight and have ordered cell phone companies to let people take their numbers with them when they switch to a competitor. The wireless providers asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to block the regulation, arguing that keeping the same phone number is a convenience, not a necessity.

The cell phone companies told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the Federal Communications Commission (news – web sites)’s “number portability” rules will raise costs while doing little to increase competition.

“It’s very speculative to say this even offers consumer benefits,” said Andrew McBride, an attorney representing Verizon Wireless and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.

McBride asserted the FCC (news – web sites) overstepped its authority and made legal errors in its order. Retaining the same phone number is not an essential service like making wireless providers supply enhanced 911 systems to help authorities locate cell phone users during emergencies, he argued.

The judges are not expected to rule for several months. Without court intervention, the regulations are to take effect Nov. 24.

Congress decided in 1996 that people can keep their traditional local phone numbers when they change phone companies. The FCC decided soon after that wireless carriers should offer that same ability to people in the largest 100 U.S. cities by June 1999.

The FCC extended that deadline three times, most recently granting a yearlong extension last summer after Verizon Wireless asked the commission to eliminate the requirement.

“Wireless companies will have stronger incentives to provide better service and lower prices if consumers can take their numbers,” said Chris Murray, an attorney for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. He said small businesses and self-employed people are particularly harmed when switching carriers because they lose numbers known by customers.

Most wireless companies argue that their industry is competitive enough and doesn’t need a regulatory boost. They say about 145 million people subscribe to U.S. cell phone systems, and about a third of them change carriers each year.

“The wireless industry is the most competitive telecommunications market on the planet,” McBride said after the hearing. He said the expense of providing the number switching service will take money away from better cell phone coverage and cheaper phones.

The wireless industry estimates the requirement will cost more than $1 billion in the first year and $500 million each year after that.

The industry also says the FCC’s number portability rules are unclear regarding traditional landline phone companies and give them an unfair advantage. The wireless companies want the FCC to declare that traditional landline phone companies must allow their customers to keep numbers when switching to cell phones.

Many cell phone users outside the United States, in Britain, Australia, Hong Kong and other places, already have the option of keeping their numbers when they switch carriers.

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