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View Diary: Bundle or Nothing: Big Telecoms ENDING Universal Phone Service (306 comments)

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  •  Who cares about audio quality (6+ / 0-)

    on a telephone? Either you can understand the person on the other end or you can't. I have audio processing issues and cellphone quality is good enough even for me.

    And what kind of emergency leaves you with no power for over 24 hours, but working landline phone service, and the ability to stay in your home, and requires you to call for help, and allows someone to actually respond to help you?

    Chances are in a real emergency bad enough to kill your power long enough for your phone to die (or bad enough to kill the cell tower), you're going to need to evacuate. And then at least a cellphone stands some chance of being useful (if not immediately, then later when you're trying to reunite with friends/loved ones). Fat lot of good your landline's going to do you.

    And if it is a shelter-in-place sort of emergency (tornado or hurricane during the actual event, or a bad ice storm maybe?) then calling for help isn't going to do you any good anyway. And those sorts of events tend to be able to disrupt landlines too - tearing your house up is probably going to hurt the phone wiring. Flooding and earthquakes too, although those are more the evacuate-type where you really want the cellphone.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 02:26:38 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  plenty of those kinds of emergencies here (23+ / 0-)

      Ice and snow take down the power grid in parts of rural New England fairly frequently. If we did have a house fire or a medical emergency during one of these events, it would be good to be able to call out.

      The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. - Anatole France, 1894

      by beverlywoods on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 04:07:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rural California loses power for long stretches, (7+ / 0-)

        too.  We have an old family cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains that we visit on weekends during the summer, but almost all of the neighbors live there full time.  Last November they lost power after a windstorm and it was out for five days.  That was a bit longer than usual, but in the winter it's not uncommon to lose power for a few hours once or twice a month.  This is in a canyon with 500 households.

        PG&E sent checks to everyone in the area to make up for the inconvenience.  Fortunately, it was not big deal for us since we don't live there full time, so we passed our check on to the local food bank there.

    •  Um, no. (29+ / 0-)
      Chances are in a real emergency bad enough to kill your power long enough for your phone to die (or bad enough to kill the cell tower), you're going to need to evacuate.
      In all the power outages we've had where I live (in a town of 60k or so, NOT a rural area) with power sometimes out for days, we and most of our neighbors have been perfectly fine to stay at home, ambulances have been able to come just fine, and people still do have medical emergencies like heart attacks or breathing problems.

      In some of your hypotheticals, then yes, landlines would be disrupted as well, or people would have to evacuate, but there are plenty of other real power outage emergencies in which you stay at home AND help is available.  And last long enough for cell phone charges to die, so that landlines are all that's available.

      This is a life or death issue for some people.

      •  From what (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MGross, sb, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

        I've seen you post in the past, I get the impression that you live where I spent most of my life.  If so, I'm guessing you are thinking about the high winds that knocked out power for (in my case) just over a week.  And, yes, we stayed at our house.  Not fun but not undoable - ate fast food, charged phone in my car, read a lot, etc.

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - 9th Amendment

        by TracieLynn on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:15:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, was afk a while. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TracieLynn

          Mostly what you mention.  Wind sheer, occasional 'sub-tornadic activity', and the blue moon mega snowfall or ice event.

          After Ike, most of the area around my neighborhood had no power for over a week, but my landline worked just fine the whole time, and was available for the 3 different neighbors who are aged and have chronic health issues that bring ambulances to the neighborhood fair frequently.

    •  um, no also: (15+ / 0-)

      Since the previous two comments already demolished your hypothetical about emergencies, I'll stick to the one about audio.

      Audio quality on a telephone makes the difference between hearing or not hearing, the subtleties of tone and cadence that convey emotional state information.  Audio quality on a telephone makes the difference between hearing someone the first time or having to constantly ask "what did you say?" as you're swerving all over the road trying to figure out the missing words in the drop-outs.  

      Shitty audio is sufficient for perfunctory conversations along the lines of "I just caught the bus, I should be at your house in twenty minutes."   Shitty audio is not sufficient for emotionally sensitive conversations, or conversations where nuance is important, or conversations while driving.  

      And the accident statistics prove my point in spades:

      There was never an increase in accidents reported by people who used the old analog mobile handsets, from the 1940s when mobile service began, to the 1990s when the last of it was phased out.  That's 50 years of statistics that would have been compiled by auto insurance companies as certainly as any other auto safety statistics, even with a small population of users.  

      There was never an increase in accidents reported by people who used Citizens' Band (CB) radio while driving, an enormously popular communications medium in the 1970s, with millions of users.  CB is analog transmission, and you even have to press a button on the mic to speak.  And the auto insurance industry would have noticed if that was a hazard.  

      But now with cellphones using G.729 compression (shitty audio), we see the increase in accidents.  Coincidence?  Hell no.   Case proven, case closed.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 05:23:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  heh (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, congenitalefty, rcnewton, JeffW, sb

        My best mentor in electronics when I was young was a Bell Engineer who designed and built regional microwave networks.  I understand where you're coming from in terms of analog quality.  It was a thing.  A lot of love and engineering care went into it.

        Buy as a longtime ham, as well as someone who has read some of the studies...I gotta say...you're reaching a bit on the accidents :)  But I think you know that.  Do anything but watch the damn road and you're a worse driver.  Whether you're hitting the local repeater or babbling on your smartphone.

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 07:37:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  actually i'm not "reaching" about accidents. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jessical, Brown Thrasher, mrkvica

          It's a falsifiable hypothesis, and I've designed a controlled experiment to test it.

          Basically you sort volunteers randomly into groups and put them into realistic driving simulators:  Control 1 (no conversation), Control 2 (live conversation with live person in passenger seat), Test 1 (phone conversation, wearing Plantronics headset connected via landline circuit to another person in another room), and Test 2 (phone conversation, wearing Plantronics headset connected via cellphone to another person in another room).  

          The hypothetical prediction is that Test 2 will show a significantly higher error rate than any of the other conditions, and that Test 1 will not show a significantly higher error rate than Control 1 or Control 2.  Significance test via T-test, two-tailed.  

          To minimize experimenter expectation effects, use all the controls that are typically used in high-scrutiny psych experiments such as psi research, for example each group has a separate assistant to instruct them, and the assistants are unaware of the hypothesis being tested (this is needed due to the obvious difference in treatment conditions between "no passenger, no conversation" and "passenger, live conversation" and "wearing headset, phone conversation").  

          To make the test more realistic and encourage the subjects to pay attention to the conversations as they would in real life, subjects would also be told that they are going to be quizzed on the items that occur in the conversation (if any), after they have finished the driving run.  Scoring those quizzes might provide additional information.  And lastly, the passengers and people at the other end of the phone, would have standard conversational material drawn from recent news and chosen to be reasonably acceptable to average subjects, where the subject's comprehension of the material can be quizzed after the driving test.  

          I would bet anyone serious dough on the outcome of that project.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:01:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  hell if you'll fund it... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril, G2geek

            ...I'll do it :}  I'm sure I can find a PhD sponsor or two here at school :}  But that funding thing is a must!

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:09:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  heh, I was about to ask you! (0+ / 0-)

              Do I look like I'm made out of money?:-)  

              But if you'll fund it, I'll do it.  And I could probably find a department that would sponsor me for a PhD involving that study.  

              My research design, I have first dibs, neener!:-)

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:04:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  He's not reaching far. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brown Thrasher

          One theory about why talking on a cellphone is almost worse than driving drunk is because of the fact that the shitty, compressed audio requires more brainpower to handle the task.  Since we have a finite amount of brainpower available, that detracts from the amount available for other tasks -- such as driving and evaluating your environment.

      •  I'm glad my smartphone has excellent audio (7+ / 0-)

        I would notice, being a musician and producer.

        I stopped having a land line a few years ago.

        Of course, I live in civilization (mainly so I don't have to waste a ton of gas to go places)

        To be a Republican, you have to believe that our economic problems are caused by the poor having too much money and the rich not having enough.

        by Tommy Jones the Band on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 08:07:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd be happily surprised if that was the case. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brown Thrasher, ozsea1

          What make & model of phone, and what carrier, and if you don't mind, what city?  

          I can look that up and find out if they've started to use something better than the execrable G.729.  But once a signal is compressed per G.729, information is lost that can't be re-created at the other end.  

          BTW, I was in music production for a while also, studio recording and live, back in the days of Studer A-800 recorders and analog consoles, when digital effects were new.  

          And the way I deal with cellphone audio is by having a Plantronics binaural (2-earphone mono) headset on the PBX phone I use at my desk.  That makes a noticeable improvement in comprehension, probably due to the mutual delay in audio signals crossing between the two hemispheres of the brain, and some interaction between the brain's "sampling rate" driven by baseline EEG frequency, and the cellphone packet sampling rate.  However it's still nowhere near landline audio quality, where I can get perfect comprehension even using 1920s dial phones with their original receivers on one ear only.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:15:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't remember CB as high quality audio. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, kyril

        Noise and various forms of interference vs compression artifacts?  I'd probably  choose compression.  Maybe it depends on your personal auditory processing issues.

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:30:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  AM analog transmission. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brown Thrasher, ozsea1

          But the human brain has an easier time filtering analog noise than it does at processing digitally-compressed audio.  We evolved in an environment where we had to filter analog noise, for example understanding someone at a distance during a wind and rain storm.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 03:04:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Maybe yours does (0+ / 0-)

            Not mine.

            "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

            by kyril on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 04:54:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  this is testable. (0+ / 0-)

              Take an audio track that's recorded at FM radio quality, that consists of someone speaking a series of random drawable nouns.  Run it through various transmission media under actual field conditions.  Record the results of those and play them back to volunteers via speakers or headphones.  Have the volunteers transcribe what they hear.  Score as a raw percentage, run a two-tailed T-test, and thereby ascertain who does better with what.

              Sheesh, between this and the driving simulator example, I could get a PhD doing this stuff.

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 06:08:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  In-land hurricanes (13+ / 0-)

      Places in Central Florida were without power for weeks, but land lines worked in a lot of areas. Some were out some were not. Depended if the lines were run above or below ground. Trees took out power, but if phone lines were below ground, the phones worked. And only the most medically fragile stayed in shelters for more than during the storm.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 05:29:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Uh, welcome to hurricane country (16+ / 0-)
      And what kind of emergency leaves you with no power for over 24 hours, but working landline phone service, and the ability to stay in your home, and requires you to call for help, and allows someone to actually respond to help you?
      Three words: Charley, Frances, Jeanne. Those were the 2004 hurricanes we enjoyed in Central/North Florida.

      In the first, we were out of power for three days—no cell service, but drive in/out accessibility. In the second, we were without power for less time but still with no cell. In the third, it was actually more time without power, but still no cell. In the last two, there wasn't even much debris on the ground as Charley had cleared things out pretty well.

      Then a couple of years ago, Tropical Storm Fay(asco) crapped on us for days (tropical storm my ass) with lost power, no cell, etc. If we'd had some sort of exigency requiring on-the-ground support, help was a landline call away, and vehicle access never was a problem.

      Having grown up in Florida in the '60s, the preceding events were not my first rodeos, and earlier experiences were much the same, sans cell phones, of course.

    •  When our power goes out, we are usually (15+ / 0-)

      snowed IN. Can't go anywhere. I keep landline for 911, when you call, they know where you are. Not the same with a cell phone, depends on which towers the signal goes through.

      Oh for crying out loud!

      by 4mygirls on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 05:32:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Been there. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO, ozsea1

        If it was a real emergency I could have snowshoed to town.  It wasn't worth it.

                  Pet foods--check.
                  Toilet paper--check.
                  Kitty litter--check.
                  Coffee--check.

        For everything else, I can make do.

        Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

        by Ice Blue on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 11:22:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No. I live in a rural area, and it has lost power (14+ / 0-)

      for days at a time due to mere ice storms, while phone lines have remained running. Guess what? Crews don't get sent out to rural areas as quickly. We're low priority.

       Also, many parts of my county get crap cellphone reception. Areas that don't get cellphone reception will inevitably be the same areas who lose landline access. If any sort of emergency medical issue, I better be in the right part of county, or I'll be fucked.

      If you don't know what it's like to live in a rural area, please don't "explain" what it's like to people who do. Most all of what you've said here is wrong.

    •  We've lost power for multiple days (9+ / 0-)

      and not lost the phone, usually due to something boring like a tree falling on power lines during a winter storm.

      Among other things, the phone allows you to call the power company to get a status on the outage.

      The cell is only good as long as the charge holds out. Oh, and if the local cell tower has a generator with a staff who will keep it fueled up.

      Unless your house is red tagged with substantial physical damage, you wouldn't evacuate after an earthquake.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 07:12:10 AM PDT

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      •  This is why I have two extra batteries... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and an external charging cradle for them, for my little old Nokia dumbphone. I have to wonder if you can actually change the battery on the newer smartphones without tools.

        Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

        by JeffW on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:48:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tropical storm/hurricane (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, ladyjames

      In 2004 our Democratic HQ was without power for nearly a week, but the phones still worked. During one storm I lost power at home for more than a day but the landlilne was the one thing that worked perfectly--fortunately I did not have an emergency but if I did that phone would have my a lifesaver. It's the only reason I still have a landline (OK, and it's nice being able to have decent call quality).

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 10:41:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ice Blue, TiaRachel, entrelac, matx, ladyjames

      And what kind of emergency leaves you with no power for over 24 hours, but working landline phone service, and the ability to stay in your home, and requires you to call for help, and allows someone to actually respond to help you?

      The tail end of hurricane Ike blasted through Ohio I believe in 2008. It wrecked huge swaths of the state leaving many people without power for weeks. I was lucky and only had to wait about three days for power. In that time, the only thing working was my landline phone and I had water. The weather allowed us to stay here, which was great. I didn't have to call for help, but I was very thankful for a working phone seeing that my 90+ mom lives with me.

    •  Hurricane Ike - no power for 17 days (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladyjames

      Luckily, though we didn't have any emergencies (lost a few roof shingles), but we did have a working phone throughout it all thanks to our 50's era dial phone and a land line to plug into!  Thanks to that one amenity, we could communicate with family across the country and hound the electric company as we kept seeing the power pop back on across the neighborhood (we were the last section of our neighborhood to get power back).  Many of our neighbors would ask us for updates because they didn't have reliable phone service.

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