phone fun, was GeoIP database issues and the real world consequences

Larry Sheldon larrysheldon at
Tue Apr 26 19:10:39 UTC 2016

On 4/20/2016 10:15, Owen DeLong wrote:
>> On Apr 20, 2016, at 7:59 AM, Jean-Francois Mezei <jfmezei_nanog at> wrote:
>> On 2016-04-20 10:52, Owen DeLong wrote:
>>> For the most part, “long distance” calls within the US are a thing of the
>>> past and at least one mobile carrier now treats US/CA/MX as a single
>>> local calling area
>> Is this a case of telcos having switched to IP trunks and can reach
>> other carriers for "free"
>> Or are wholesale long distance still billed between carriers but at
>> prices so low that they can afford to offer "free" long distance at
>> retail level ?
> I think it boiled down to a recognition that the costs of billing were beginning to account for something like $0.99 of every $1 billed.

I wonder if the costs of avoiding-preventing-investigating toll fraud 
final grow to consume the profit in the product.

I know that long ago there were things that I thought were insanely 
silly.  A few examples:

As an ordinary citizen I was amused and annoyed, in the case where a 
toll charge had been contested (and perforce refunded) there would often 
be several non-revenue calls to the protesting number asking whoever 
answered if they knew anybody in the called city, or if they knew who 
the called number belonged to.   (Proper answer in any case:  Who or 
what I know is none of your business.)  Often there would calls to the 
called number (super irritating because the error was in the 
recording--later learned to be poor handwriting) asking the reciprocal 
questions except that often they had no idea that a call had been made.

I  was a Toll Transmissionman for a number or years back in the last 
iceage and one of the onerous tasks the supervisor had was "verifying 
the phone bill" which might be a stack as much as six inches tall.  The 
evening shift supervisor (or one of them in a large office, like Los 
Angeles 1 Telegraph, where I worked for a while) would go through the 
bill, line by line, page by page, looking at the called number an d if 
he recognized it and placing a check mark next to it,  If he did not 
recognize it, he would search the many lists in the office to see it was 
shown, and adding a check mark if a list showed it for a likely sounding 
legal call.  If that didn't work he would probably have to call the 
number to see who answered (adding a wasted revenue-call path to the 
wreckage).  Most often it would turn out to be the home telephone number 
of a repair supervisor in West Sweatsock, Montana, who had been called 
because a somebody who protested the policy that the repairman going 
fishing meant some problem would not be addressed for several days.  So 
he put a check mark next to the number and moved on.

Which meant the number would show up on the next month's bill.  And it 
would again not be recognized from memory.  And so forth and so on. 
Until eventually, after several months, the number would be recognized, 
check-marked without drama, and disappear forever from the bill.

Lastly, in later years I was assigned to the the Revenue Accounting 
organization (to write programs for printing telephone books) and came 
to realize that there were a LOT of people in RA working with a LOT of 
people in the Chief Special Agents organization using a LOT of computer 
time to analyze Toll records for fraud patterns.

Oops, not quite lastly....  Looking back at my Toll Plant days in the 
heyday of Captain Crunch--there were a lot engineering hours redesigning 
Toll equipment, and plant hours modifying or replacing equipment do 
defeat the engineering efforts of the Blue Box Boys.

"Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by
its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole
life believing that it is stupid."

--Albert Einstein

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