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

Owen DeLong owen at
Tue Apr 26 23:16:16 UTC 2016

> On Apr 26, 2016, at 12:10 , Larry Sheldon <larrysheldon at> wrote:
> 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.

IIRC, mostly it boiled down to the maintenance of the antiquated SMDR equipment and its interface to the even more antiquated billing systems was getting expensive to keep running and that there was no perceived potential whatsoever for ROI on building a new billing system or new SMDR capabilities.

> 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.

ROFLMAO… Yeah. Next time we’re in the same locale, ask me about my 2.5 year argument with Pacific Bell about direct dial calls to Vietnam and the Philippines from my apartment in Richmond. There should be alcohol involved.

> 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.

I really liked it while my Blue Box still worked. lol

For a while, SS7 was the bane of my existence.

Fun times!!

When a minute of long distance from California to New York was $0.35+, there was enough money in the billing process to cover the costs of tracking the minute. Once it got down to $0.03 and then $0.01, that really took a lot of the margin away.

One thing I always found particularly amusing was that it used to be a toll call to call from San Jose East (408238) to Sunnyvale (I forget the NPA/NXX), but that there were several prefixes in San Jose West (e.g. 408360 IIRC) where it was free to call from San Jose East and could place a free call to Sunnyvale.

I also discovered that a single line with call forwarding was relatively cheap per month and could forward many calls into a hunt group.

So, we used to extend the toll-free reach of BBS systems by finding “friends” with houses in strategic prefixes and having them install a single telephone line with call forwarding. Then, once the line was installed, we’d run over to the location, program the forwarder to go to the BBS hunt lead number and voila… Instant toll free unlimited BBS calling for another 20-30 prefixes for less than $15/month and completely legal.

At first, we thought we had to hide what we were doing as we were sure that the phone company would object, but we later discovered that absent a PUC proceeding to change the tariff they really didn’t have anything they could say about it. We started showing up on the day of install to dial in the forwarding and confirm functionality while the tech was still on site. You should have seen some of the reactions when we showed up with a butt set, set up call forwarding, told someone to make a test call and waited for positive confirmation. Priceless.


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