Tag Archives: Cellphones

Hey Verizon… When Will FiOS Be Available In My Neighborhood?

Verizon Communications is sure taking it’s sweet time rolling out their “FiOS” fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) fiber optic service.

Chances are that you just found this page on my blog by doing a search on “When is Verizon FIOS going to be available in my area?”, or “How long do I have to wait for FiOS?” or “When can I get Verizon FiOS?” or “I’m still waiting for Verizon FiOS” or “Can I get Verizon Fiber Optic Internet Service At My Address?” or something similar.

FiOS is still not available where I live. With all the buzz about Internet2 and Web 2.0, I sure wish they would get moving, so I don’t miss out on all the fun. Even the squirrels around here are waiting for FiOS (see why).

Speaking of squirrels and Verizon, we think a good advertising slogan for the telco giant might be “Once a Verizon Customer, Always a Verizon Customer” (read why). It reminds us of the lyrics from Hotel California by the Eagles… “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”. Sort of like marriage vows. Till death do us part. Or like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, where some tormented soul rips their phone off the wall, throws it out the window, and it still keeps ringing. Maybe it’s why Verizon Wireless adopted the slogan “We never stop working for you”.

FiOS is still not available to the majority of Verizon customers. Fiber-optic service can provide very high-speed, broadband Internet connectivity, traditional voice phone service and television programming, all over the same cable.

While Verizon won’t be offering anything close to the maximum possible speeds over their FiOS network (especially to residential customers), I’ve wondered what the theoretical maximum speed might be. Fiber-optic Wide Area Networks (WANs) are currently capable of speeds measured in Gigabits per second (1 Gigabit = 1 Billion bits). I believe the fastest service Verizon currently offers to residential FiOS customers is a paltry asymmetrical rate of 30 Megabits per second downstream, and 5 Megabits per second upstream (1 Megabit = 1 Million bits). Of course, how much can you actually eat? How much is too much?

The fastest optical circuits currently deployed commercially are SONET OC-768 circuits that can carry almost 40 Gigabits/sec. There is a SONET OC-3072 standard, not currently implemented, which would provide almost 160 Gigabits/sec of bandwidth !!! At those speeds, I think the telephone poles may ignite.

For readers unfamiliar with Verizon, it is a huge telecommunications company in the United States that provides land-line and wireless phone, Internet and “cable” television service. The silly name Verizon rhymes with “horizon”, rather than being pronounced something like “Very-Zone”. I’ve always thought it was a real big mistake for such a large organization (made up of the former “Baby Bells” or RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) and other regional phone companies, that have been around as long as they have, to choose a nonsense name that many people did not even know how to pronounce properly. Alexander Graham Bell must be spinning in his grave. Verizon Communications includes the former Bell Atlantic companies (New Jersey Bell, Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania, Diamond State Telephone and the four Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Companies (C&P (District of Columbia), C&P Maryland, C&P Virginia, C&P West Virginia), as well as the former NYNEX (New York & New England Telephone), GTE and MCI companies. How’s that for corporate mergers! Verizon operates in much of the United States and has more than a quarter-million employees. You’d think a company with that much money could come up with a more innovative corporate logo than this…

verizon-logo-470x310.jpg

Reminds me of an old riddle… What’s black and white and red all over? (No, it’s not a sunburned penguin.) As bad as Verizon’s logo is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the logo of the former Lucent Technologies, known widely in IT and telecom circles as “The Flaming *******” (Sorry, this is a family blog. You’ll have to use your imagination). I wonder if the same person designed both of these logos. Maybe Alcatel bought Lucent just so they could get rid of this horrific logo…

lucent-logo-460x360.jpg

But I digress.

If you are still served by Verizon’s old copper “POTS” phone lines (they’re so 20th century), and you’re trying to find out when FiOS service will be available in your area, good luck. It’s easier to get the private phone number of the President of the United States, than it is to pry that information out of Verizon. Then again, perhaps even Verizon doesn’t know the answer.

So, I had an idea… Are you a Verizon customer that already has FiOS service available in your neighborhood (regardless of whether you personally subscribe to it) , or have you learned that it’s coming by a particular date? If so, post your information as a comment here, and I’ll organize the comments into a searchable file.

Please provide the following information; Your state, your city or town, your area code + the first three digits of your phone number, and the date FiOS became available or will be available, plus any pertinent comments, such as “My entire town now has FiOS service”, or “Only the South end of town currently has FiOS”, or “It’s only currently available in the downtown area”.

If enough people submit info, I might even create a website with the information.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Cellphones, Consumerism, Employment, Home, Labor, Life, News, Routing by Rumor, Technology, Telephone Companies, Telephony

The National Do Not Call Registry – An American Success Story

Ah… Peace and quiet. Brought to you by your friends at the United States Federal Trade Commission via their National Do Not Call Registry. Undeniably, one of the greatest inventions since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

Americans who have registered almost 150 million phone numbers on the DNC Registry can’t be wrong. People were fed up with what the telemarketing industry had done to the telephone system in the United States. Families were being harassed every day of the week by telemarketers who would ring your phone all day long, usually hanging up without saying a word (known in the industry as “abandoned” calls), usually the result of the irresponsible use of predictive dialing. Even if they did stay on the line long enough to speak to you, nobody wants to be annoyed twenty times a day by unsolicited sales pitches. If this occurred on your home phone, it stole your time and your peace of mind. If the calls came in on your cellphone, they also stole your money, since most cellphone subscribers pay for all incoming calls.

The telemarketing industry succeeded in hijacking the American telephone network, arguably the most reliable and most advanced telecommunications network in the world. The statistics are as staggering as they are disgusting. Companies out for a quick buck were abusing the American public by putting in place infrastructure at nearly 9,000 call centers around the country that could dial hundreds of millions of calls per day, many of which would be abandoned. If you or I constantly placed calls to strangers and hung up as soon as they answered, I can assure you the police would be knocking at your door in no time. Yet here was an industry (outbound telemarketing), which, according to this 2002 document at FTC.gov, employed over a half-million individuals (in outbound telemarketing alone) and which was expected to grow to over $400 Billion a year (by 2006), doing essentially the same thing, but on a grand scale… and getting away with it. I think the telecom carriers that provided facilities and calling capacity to these telemarketers are just as culpable as the ISPs and bandwidth providers that profit from the activities of spammers, turning a blind eye to the problem in the name of profit.

Indeed, placing your number on the Do-Not-Call Registry does work. Unsolicited calls to RoutingByRumor’s phone numbers have been virtually non-existent since they were added to the DNC list. And when that rare unsolicited telemarketing call does come in, I do two things. I inform the caller that the number they dialed is on the DNC Registry, and I file a complaint with both the FTC and my state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.

If you haven’t done so already, add your number to the do-not-call list. You can join the Do Not Call Registry here. You’ll be glad to know that since the government recently decided to make the National Do Not Call Registry permanent (see this article and read the legislation here), your number will not be dropped from the list after five years, as was originally planned. You will not have to re-register a phone number you’ve already placed on the Registry.

Fortunately, the free-for-all is over. The greed and irresponsibility of telemarketers and the businesses that employed them has destroyed their industry. While the law still permits unsolicited telemarketing calls in some cases, such as on behalf of political campaigns, charities and for telephone surveys, hopefully those loopholes will soon be eliminated. Now all those former telemarketers can look for legitimate, respectable jobs.

Maybe what the world needs now is a Worldwide Do-Not-Email Registry that will do for the spam problem what the Do-Not-Call Registry did for the phone system in the United States.

5 Comments

Filed under Cellphones, Consumerism, Home, Life, Money, News, Routing by Rumor, Technology, Telephony, Your Money

Is Using Somebody Else’s Wi-Fi Connection a Crime?

wi-fi.jpg

Admit it… Many of you have done it. It’s easy. There’s little chance of getting caught, and who doesn’t like getting something for nothing?

I’m talking about freeloading or piggybacking on your neighbor’s Wi-Fi connection.

The fact is that if you do some wardriving you’ll see that many, if not most wireless networks are unsecured. That means they’re not encrypted, and anyone with a laptop computer, Wi-Fi enabled cellphone or other Wi-Fi device can associate their device with someone else’s network. Some network owners don’t mind others piggybacking on their Internet connection, but many others do. It’s probably a case of not being savvy enough to secure their Wi-Fi access point, since wireless routers’ factory default usually provides an open (unencrypted) connection.

Unless the network is intentionally being made available for public use, (and many are) is it illegal to use someone else’s service? It probably depends where you live. In the United States, there have been some prosecutions of Wi-Fi piggybackers, but laws relating to this practice, if they exist at all, vary from locality to locality.

It is possible to positively identify unauthorized users of a wireless network. All it requires is a Wi-Fi enabled laptop and some off-the-shelf software to capture and analyze the packets being transported across the network.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the IT guy in me says that you should always secure a wireless network, not only to prevent theft of your Internet service, but to protect the computers on your network. On the other hand, the idea of neighbors cooperating with neighbors and providing community access to the Internet is very appealing to me also.

Some US cities have deployed open, public-access Wi-Fi networks, and many others are in the planning stages. I think these projects are great. New technologies, including Wi-Max, promise to accelerate the deployment of wide-area wireless networks. With more Wi-Fi enabled devices becoming available, including cellphones, having ubiquitous wireless coverage will be more and more important to the public.

Boston has it’s Main Streets Wi-Fi Initiative. NYCwireless is deploying public Wi-Fi in various areas in New York City. Wireless Philadelphia is connecting Pennsylvania’s largest city. Many municipal Wi-Fi initiatives have run into trouble, though. These include projects in San Francisco, California, and Houston, Texas.

Do you have a success story about a municipal Wi-Fi project? Post your comments here.

1 Comment

Filed under Cellphones, Consumerism, Free Stuff, Home, Life, Money, News, Routing by Rumor, Technology, Telephony, Your Money

If You Liked “Tokyo Rose”…

Have the military, political leadership and media in America all been infiltrated by foreign agents? What the hell is wrong with everybody? In previous wars, at least up until World War II, it was considered treason to consort with the enemy, or to provide them with support, comfort, or a platform for their propaganda. It was considered unpatriotic, even illegal, to discuss details of any military operation. Does anybody remember the admonition “Loose lips sink ships”?

Why does the United States government permit, even support with their own statements, the broadcasting and other dissemenation of videos, audio recordings or any other propaganda released by terrorists? This is not journalism. This is not a free speech issue. We are at war. Thousands of Americans have died on and since September 11, 2001 at the hands of terrorists that would like nothing more than to kill every American man, woman and child.

Could you imagine a U.S. radio or television station broadcasting the propoganda of Tokyo Rose or Adolph Hitler during World War II? It would have been considered treason. Those responsible would have been hung or treated to a firing squad. Most of these terrorists are not heads of state, diplomats, elected officials or even dictators. They are shadow figures that may or may not even exist in reality. Their only means of getting their message out is to issue press releases from clandestine locations, and hope that the media propogates their message and assists them in their recruiting efforts. Without a stage and an audience, they would be largely insignificant. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us”.

Why does the United States military release casuality reports on a daily basis? Is it so the enemy will know how effective their attacks have been? Is it done to boost the morale of those trying to destroy us? When U.S. servicemen are missing, why is the media allowed to broadcast the details? So the enemy can search for them and kill them or take them prisoner?

Certainly, the world has changed since the 1940’s. Anybody with a cellphone, a camcorder or a computer can effectively broadcast whatever message they have to the rest of the world. We should not be providing assistance to those who are seeking to destroy us, by helping them get their message out, or by letting them know how effective their efforts might be.

Pogo

Click on the illustration above to visit the official Pogo website.

Click here to learn more about the real life “Tokyo Rose”, Iva Toguri D’Aquino

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 9/11, Cellphones, Iraq, Journalism, Military, Politics, Routing by Rumor, Telephony, Terrorism, War

Google’s Free 411 Directory Service

1(800)Goog-411

I just came across this on another blog, tried it, and it really blew me away.

1-(800) GOOG-411

It’s totally free!!!

Other directory assistance services, especially from your cellphone can be $1.00 or more each time you use them.

It’s Google’s automated 411 service. Just say the city and state, then a business name or category. For instance, “New York, New York” and “Taxi” or “Joe’s Taxi Service”. I was amazed how well their speech recognition and voice navigation works. I tried about a half dozen requests during a single phone call. The only one I had to repeat a second time was “Mountain View, California” and “Google”. It didn’t understand “Google” on the first attempt. You can’t make this stuff up.

It will dictate the phone number, and can also send the information you requested to your cellphone as a text message. It will even connect you to the number for free!!! How cool is that?

The only similar, but more limited service I know of is (800) FREE-411.

I guess Google is going to do for your cellphone what they’ve already done for your Web browser.

1 Comment

Filed under Cellphones, Free Stuff, Google, Routing by Rumor, Technology, Telephony