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Subject: Re: In Defense of GTE and their Apparatus
Date: 12 Sep 89 15:47:12 GMT
Organization: Digital Equipment Corporation, Littleton MA USA

I rather enjoyed Larry Lippman's defense of GTE and AECo.  It's good to
refresh the memory.  And yes, it is widely believed that Strowger the
undertaker was upset that his competitor's wife was the local
telephone operator.  I don't doubt it -- it's a gruesome business to
think about though.

GTE-Pacific has had some particular problems, though.  It's not
apocryphal that many (many!) of their customers are very upset.  I
once spoke to the mayor of Santa Monica, who was quite upset about it
too, like most of her townspeople.  So why is this true?

I don't blame entirely blame GTE Corp. for this.  California's
regulatory system has at times been just plain nuts.  All states
regulate local telcos based on Return on Investment.  All investments
go into a Rate Base, against which all revenues minus expenses are
compared.  That provides an ROI figure.  If it's too low, the telco
gets a rate increase.  If it's high, they cut rates.  Most of rate
hearings are devoted to determining the "right" ROI, comparing stock
market expectations of return on equity along with money market debt
costs.  Telco capitalization is a mix of the two; it's all bundled
into ROI calculations.

The California PUC historically has given GTE (and the old PacTel)
very low ROI, often a couple of percentage points or more below
everybody else.  When most states were allowing 13% and California was
allowing 10%, which state would YOU invest in?  To make matters worse,
C-PUC would penalize GTE for its poor performance by lowering its ROI
even more.

AT&T was too proud of its "Bell System" reputation to let PacTel go
down the tubes, so they dumped money into CA even with a cruddy rate
of return.  But GTE had other fish to fry with its cash, so they gave
the state pretty much what it paid for.  It looked bad, because it was
bad, but it was a sound business decision.  I don't know the current
authorized ROI in CA, but I suspect it's higher, and GTE service
should improve over time as a result.

BTW this ties in to Steve Elias' distrust of DA charging.  ALL such
expenses are counted in computing rates.  If telco saves money, it
raises their ROI, which is made up for by lowering other rates
(usually at the time of the next general rate case).  They don't get
to "keep" the savings.  They still benefit but it's not the ripoff
that the Mass. legislature pretends it is.

From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: GTE Bashing?! ( was: BOCs and Regionals )
Date: 1 Sep 89 05:23:05 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

In article <>, texbell!egsner!eric@cs. (Eric Schnoebelen) writes:
>         I live in one of the Dallas suburbs ( Lewisville ) served by
> GTE..  I have never had any problem with them, and certainly not
> recently..
> [...]
> I had been called back by a tech at GTE saying that they
> could find no problem at the CO, and if I would carefully check all of
> my equipment..  I ( somewhat sheepishly ) told her that I had just
> discovered the problem, and that it had been corrected..

Well, you did get their standard line, "We can't find anything wrong. It must 
be in your equipment." In your case it happened to be true. In most cases, not

Seriously, I reflected for some time, and then conferred with a number of my 
associates. We concluded that to list all of the screwups performed by GTE 
(that other companies seem to avoid) would require more space than could ever 
be afforded by this forum. General categories include:

1. Arbitrary leased line disconnections

2. Outdated routing in local COs

3. Excessive time to repair simple outages (weeks)

4. Total local switch failure (one lasted two days in Los Gatos)

5. Feature offerings far behind other operating companies

6. Service reps not trained properly

I have dealt with Pac*Bell and independents all over the state. From
this experience it has been possible to formulate minimum standards of
performance. GTE falls so short of these standards in every area that
they have become known as the longest running telephone practical joke
in history. GTE is America's answer to third-world telephony.

I do have an open mind, but from the last twenty-five years of
experience, it will take more than one customer satisfied with one
repair call to convince me that GTE has become worthy of even the
slightest amount of respect.

>         I guess I don't understand all the GTE bashing, just like I
> don't understand all the Sprint bashing..  ( Sprint is my long distance
> carrier..  No problems in recent memory..  )

Perhaps I can offer enlightenment. Many of the readers of this group have 
needs that are more sophisticated and complex than the average single-line 
residential customer. The real measure of a service provider is how well they 
can respond to diverse needs and situations. In my previous GTE story, I simply
wanted a single telephone line for three days. This was so strange to them 
(apparently) that they stumbled and fell. Sure, I have friend in Los Gatos 
that has had service with GTE for many years. We talk on the phone and can 
hear each other just fine. And (except when his CO crashes!) the calls always 
go through. But this doesn't tell us much about how the company *really* 

Glossary term for the day:

_reorder_ ; GTE end-of-dialing signal
        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Los Gatos, Pre-GTE
Date: 11 Sep 89 04:03:31 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

After sounding off in this forum about GTE, I thought it only fair to
point out what phone service was like in Los Gatos *before* GTE came to
town in the mid-sixties. Before then, it was the Western California
Telephone Company and was it a lot of fun! (As some of you may know,
GTE has spent a considerable amount of its resources buying up Ma and Pa
phone companies.)

In those days there were two COs: 354 and 356. Each has its own
peculiar brand of non-standard SXS. Each allowed five-digit dialing
with Los Gatos. The 354 office had this weird PBX-style ringback with
short rings and a fast cadence. 356 had short rings with a very slow
cadence; in fact 1A2 key systems used to time out between rings. WC
hardly ever installed standard key systems, however. Instead they had
these Automatic Electric phones that had a hold button next to each
line and required no backroom equipment (KSU). The 356 ringback sounded
like terminal flatulance.

To call the neighboring communities of Saratoga and Campbell, you
dialed the seven digit number. The prefix would land you in the
appropriate Bell CO, and the last four digits were counted by the
distant switch, which at that time was either crossbar or SXS, depending
on the prefix. To call any of the other local destinations, it was
necessary to first dial "9", wait for second dial tone, then dial the
seven digit number. "9" connected you with the San Jose tandem, which
accepted the entire seven digit number dialed directly from the Los
Gatos subscriber.

Long distance was reached by dialing "112" plus the ten digit number.
An operator would ask for the number you were calling from. Some of us
found a better way for long distance, however. After dialing "9", the
tandem restricted the calls to local only, however we discovered that
if you dialed a local call, then flashed the switch hook, there would
be a ka-klunk-plunk, then silence. Dial pulses seemed to have no
effect, so we tried something else: MF. Jackpot! You could key
"KP+[anynumberknowntomankind]+ST", and you had a free call.

The standard phone issue was, er, well uh there was no standard phone
issue. It seems they used anything they could get. There were AE,
Kellog, Stromberg, you-name-it. According to some of the GTE switchmen
I talked to later, the cable plant was in about the same shape. From
the CO to any given subscriber, no one could be sure how many times the
pair changed wire types and gauge. Trying to create equalized loops was
a nightmare (even more than GTE's usual).

Considering everything, it was probably a step up for the citizens of
Los Gatos when GTE came to town, but it took away the fun of endless
hours of playing with that weird system. When GTE took over, they
immediately replaced the CO equipment with standard issue AE
directorized step, which had no interesting quirks other than it being
totally unreliable at completing calls. Even all that is now gone and
is now electronic (354=EAX and 356=GTD5). This October the 354 office
will probably become a remote from the 356. Los Gatos now has six

Glossary term of the day:

foreign exchange;  a service GTE provides customers who really need
		   phone service, usually provided out of a Bell
		   service area.
        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: In Defense of GTE and their Apparatus
Date: 16 Sep 89 22:14:36 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

In article <>, writes:

> The California PUC historically has given GTE (and the old PacTel)
> very low ROI, often a couple of percentage points or more below
> everybody else.  When most states were allowing 13% and California was
> allowing 10%, which state would YOU invest in?  To make matters worse,
> C-PUC would penalize GTE for its poor performance by lowering its ROI
> even more.

And what made things REALLY worse was that just when GTE would find
itself in a position of lowering its costs (by installing new CO
equipment) it screwed itself by not reducing the bloated work force
that was previously required to maintain the old steppers. It was not
uncommon to find a GTE CO staff exactly the same size with GTD5 or
1AESS that it had before the cut.

> AT&T was too proud of its "Bell System" reputation to let PacTel go
> down the tubes, so they dumped money into CA even with a cruddy rate
> of return.  But GTE had other fish to fry with its cash, so they gave
> the state pretty much what it paid for.

Even so, PacTel was indeed the poor stepchild of AT&T. I remember C&P
and Illinois and Southern Bell all having neat stuff while PacTel reps
didn't even know what I was talking about. Back in the 70s, I was
working with a radio station in a transmitter move in the Jacksonville,
FL, area. We needed a pair of 15K equalized lines in a hurry and
Southern Bell had them up in twenty-four hours. You were lucky to ever
get them with PacTel, and have them right.
        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Some Comments On The GTE "Problem" in California
Date: 19 Sep 89 05:24:46 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

In article <>, kitty!
(Larry Lippman) writes:
> 	The apparatus will indeed do the job - but in the situations which
> you describe it is PEOPLE who have let the apparatus down and caused these
> service problems.

It is obvious, from the very encounters that I have experienced with
GTE that it is indeed the people who make (or in GTE's case) break the

> 	Beats the hell outta me...  I have seen the No. 1 EAX, and it is
> not junk.  I don't know why there was trouble in this particular office,
> unless it was a very early machine (say, before 1974).   Part of the

As a matter of fact, it was installed in about 1974. At that time they
offered no features whatsoever. It was many years before I learned that
they were offering call waiting and call forwarding (and nothing else).
At a place served by this switch, I had particular use for three-way
calling, but it has never been available. Down south, I know that GTE
does offer 3-way in the No. 1 EAX.

The scuttlebutt around the times the switch went completely down was
that some local character who knew nothing really about the equipment
was fooling around with the programming and managed to screw it up to
the point where it would no longer process calls. The reason it was
down for so long is that they had to fly a specialist up from Santa
Monica to straighten the mess out.

The EAX call forwarding has a neat feature (seriously). If you dial 79#,
you will be immediately forwarded to the number previously forworded
to. This is handy if you regularly forward to the same number, or want
someone to forward your phone without having to reveal the number it's
being forwarded to.

As an aside, I should point out that GTE Mobilnet (the wireline
cellular provider in the Bay Area) is quite an excellent operation. The
coverage is good, the service reliable, the people responsive. Calls
complete in about 2 seconds (as opposed to about 20 seconds for PacTel
Cellular in the LA area). GTE Mobilnet offers superior subscription
plans to Cellular One (the Bay Area non-wireline system owned primarily
by Pacific Telesis) and has been first with all of the GeeWhiz features
like a big area, follow-me roaming, etc. We have all theorized that it
must be some other GTE, since GTE California is just the
opposite--running the worst phone company I have ever seen.

> 	The Bell System has also used subscriber line carrier of the lowest
> quality - the infamous Superior/Continental AML.  This subscriber line
> carrier provides no bridged ringing (ringing is brought out on a third wire),
> and offers an on-hook loop voltage to the subscriber station of a whole
> 6 volts (less, if the battery ain't charged).  Needless to say, such
> subscriber line carrier at best can operate a 500-type set, and nothing
> else.

Fortunately, I have never seen any of that. But GTE in California used
theirs as a matter of routine. A favorite trick of the pea-brains in
Los Gatos was to install subscriber carrier and then at some future
time turn off the service of the metallic subscriber (battery and all).
After some indeterminate amount of time, the nicad in the SC unit would
become weak and the carrier subscriber's service would just fade away.
This actually happened to me. You should have heard me trying to
explain this to some 611 droid. You should have seen how long it took
them to fix it. After several days I rigged up an outboard supply and
got my service back. That fix would be there to this day if they hadn't
finally added more cable to the area and converted my line to metallic.
And this was business service!

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

From: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Some Comments On The GTE "Problem" in California
Date: 23 Sep 89 04:53:54 GMT
Organization: Green Hills and Cows

In article <>, zorch.SF-Bay.ORG!scott@ (Scott Hazen Mueller) writes:
> I'm not picking on John, really I'm not; his was just a good example.  I
> read the the words, but I'm seriously lacking some referents.  For instance,
> "subscriber carrier"?  

When the phone company runs out of pairs and there are more lines that
need to be installed, subscriber carrier allows two subscribers to use
one physical pair of wires. At the CO (or wherever it is necessary to
channel two services into one pair) a carrier unit is installed and a
matching unit at the "carrier" customer's location. The unit
superimposes 30-60 KHz carriers on the line which carries the voice
and supervisory signals. The "metallic" customer is the one using the
line in the conventional manner with a conventional instrument, while
the "carrier" customer has his service out of a "subscriber carrier"

> The description implies a <something> generator on
> John's premises, which was powered from the phone system, and which he
> added a power supply to when GTE switched it off.  

Yes, the unit is on the premises. It has a nicad which trickle charges
off the DC on the phone line when the line is not in use by either
party. The ring current, talk battery, and carrier encoding/decoding
are all powered by that nicad. If the phone is used a lot, or for some
reason that DC is not present, eventually the carrier subscriber's
phone may not ring or even pull dial tone. Fortunately, there is a
place inside the unit where one can hook up a 15V transformer and the
unit then becomes independent of the DC on the line.

> Also, his line was "converted to metallic"?

Eventually, they had enough cable pairs in the area (by installing new
cable) to give me one all to myself.

> What was it before it was metallic - a piece of string with two tin cans?

No. That probably would have worked better.
        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Reply-To: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: The Truth About "Cleaning Pulses"
Date: 15 Jul 90 13:25:50 PDT (Sun)
From: John Higdon <>

"Donald E. Kimberlin" <> writes:

> If you live in GTE areas, you'll find they now run TX spots
> showing people snoozing away in bed, happily confident that GTE is
> "testing their lines silently all night."  All that happened was GTE
> started its ALITs back in automatic mode again!

One other aspect of living in a GTE area (other than having my most
sincere condolences) is that you will probably get your ear blown off
eventually if you talk on the phone late at night. While real telcos
will skip busy lines during an ALIT cycle, GTE doesn't seem to deem
that necessary. While you are on the phone, suddenly you will hear,
"CLICK/CLUNK -- BZZZZT/BLAAAAT". Sometimes you remain connected to
your party after all that, sometimes you don't. You sort of ride it
out -- like an earthquake.

I have a tacit agreement with my friends who call me from GTE areas:
since it was their brain-dead company that caused the disconnection,
they call me back on their nickel.

Preventative Maintenance: Work done by GTE to _prevent_ normal use of

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395     | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Reply-To: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Can One Disable Call-Waiting If *70 Doesn't Work?
Date: 15 Jul 90 23:37:06 PDT (Sun)
From: John Higdon <>

ncoast!fmsystm! writes:

> A personal note: GTD-5's ... they had a lot of potential, but GTE
> never really got around to making them 100% right.

It's just the NeverEndingStory of GTE. What DO they make 100% right?
80%? 40%? How about 10%?

> All the programming types are now in Ft Wayne or elsewhere and
> heaven forbid any of those people should talk to a lowly member of the
> public about GTE's all to frequent programming problems.  As a
> contrast, I regularly talk to software types at Ohio Bell, Alltel and
> United ... they make mistakes, but I can usually get to someone and get
> them corrected.  With GTE it takes threats of PUCO complaints (which I
> am prepared to do ... I keep logs of all this crap).

This is significantly at the heart of why GTE is the way it is. (Gee,
I had to struggle with that last sentence. This IS after all a family
forum.) In my 30 or so years dealing with GTE, I have yet to talk to a
single person who knows anything about -- well, er, anything. Front
line people will "get back to you" at some time in the future. You can
spend a great amount of time explaining the difficulty and then days
later discover that the person you talked to had no concept of what
you were saying and as a result your trouble was dismissed by the
interior people. They NEVER let you talk to a real person. My own
personal belief is that they don't exist.

In contrast, there are many people at Pac*Bell who have, over the
course of the years, given me their internal phone numbers. These are
real people: programmers, CO maintenance people, upper level
administrators. Some of them even communicate via e-mail. It is very
interesting to actually speak to the person who will be making the
decision concerning a cutover in my CO. As Macy points out, these
people can make mistakes, but when there is communication the problems
can ultimately be solved.

Let's face it: an LEC is in the communications business. But when you
deal with GTE, that fact is obscured. I have a data circuit -- one end
terminates in Campbell (Pac*Bell) and the other end terminates in Los
Gatos (Gee Hee Hee). I'll skip the fact that every single failure has
been involved with the Los Gatos end. I have trouble numbers for both
companies. Guess who I call and why. Even though the trouble is always
in Los Gatos, I find that the Pac*Bell people can actually get GTE out
of bed (something I can't do if I call the GTE repair number), off
their butts, and on the problem. Pac*Bell people keep me advised of
progress, make sure everything is OK, and give me internal callback
numbers in case I have any unscheduled questions. GTE, on the other
hand, asks if someone will be there during business hours (a
godforsaken unattended mountaintop site) and then not another word is
heard. Callback number? 611.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395     | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Thu, 4 Jun 92 03:36 PDT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: List of GTD-5 Observations

With all the name calling and personal attacks, I thought it time to
list in detail those things that I consider deficient about the GTD-5.
Perhaps someone who is familiar with the switch could explain the
rational behind the switch's behavior (but please do not just call me
an idiot for noticing that the emperor is naked).

1. Substandard TT recognition. I have a telephone with a somewhat
flaky digital pad that provides an interesting test for the ability of
a TT receiver to detect DTMF under adverse conditions. Both the 1ESS
and the 5ESS seem to have little difficulty; the GTD-5 will require
(at times) many attempts to place a call.

2. Low successful call completion percentage. This could be related to
the above, but even with telephones that are in perfect working order,
the number of times a call will end in silence or reorder is noticably
inferior to other switches.

3. Bad three-way. Regardless of the protestations, the latest and
greatest version available for review sounds dreadful. They sound
dreadful in Whittier, Redlands, or Los Gatos. The older ones are
horribly distorted when all three people try to talk at once. Later
versions attempt to mask this by using gating. This, too, is
unacceptable. It makes three-way calls sound like a switched-gain
speakerphone. Callers in noisy locations compound the problem. I will
not accept as an answer to this one, "the latest ones sound fine".
Nothing short of a demonstration will convince me at this point. DMS
and 5ESS three-way is vastly superior.

4. Slow features. I hear this time and time again when talking to
someone who is served on a GTD-5: "I have another call. Just a moment.
[Click-click] Hello------." In other words, the switch was so slow in
responding to the hookflash that I heard the "hello" meant for the
second call. And on three-way, even I, an experienced feature-user, am
tempted to hit the hook "again" to add in the second call. Of course
to do so would drop the call. It makes for a most awkward interface.
The DMS and 5ESS have no such difficulty (as far as speed is

5. Call Waiting inoperative during three-way. We went rounds on this
about the 5ESS, but it turns out that on Centrex-type services the 5E
sports the ability to have Call Waiting operate if the call recipient
is the center of a three-way call. The GTD-5 does not have this
ability. Since Centrex has only been available on the GTD-5 for a
relatively short time (!), I have not had the opportunity to critique
the possible horrors awaiting there.

6. Ringback tone does not land in mid-ring. On virtually every
electronic switch in service today, analog or digital, the firmware
causes the caller to receive ringback tone at the moment of
connection.  There are three ringing phases and one is always active
with tone. The switch should (and all but the GTD-5 do) drop the
caller into the active phase. The GTD-5 always immediately supplies
ringing voltage to the called telephone, but the caller may have to
wait up to several seconds for any confirmation that his call has gone

So there are the complaints about the GTD-5 that are demonstrable and
repeatable, and are not shared by other contemporary digital products.
I invite anyone familiar with the product at an engineering level to
comment. But please, let us dispense with pretenders who only seem to
know how to call people names.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Thu, 12 Jun 92 03:10 PDT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Some History of GTE-Florida

tim gorman <71336.1270@CompuServe.COM> writes:

> steven@alchemy.UUCP writes in TELECOM Digest V12 #460:

>> This type of thing happens all the time. I have heard where develpers
>> have come into areas and built houses without telling any of the
>> utilities and then start screaming because there is no electric,
>> water, gas, telephone or cable.

> I have a bone to pick with this.

So do I. Most of the time, GTE is just stupid when it (doesn't) plan
for an area. I present for your consideration my very service in the
Santa Cruz mountains. My building is at the end (top) of what amounts
to a very exclusive residential street. These are literally palaces
built on a hillside with seven-figure views of the SF Bay and
surrounding population. There is much undeveloped property, mostly at
the top near my site.

What, in its infinite wisdom, did GTE deem necessary to run up the
hill? A single 25 pair cable, about one pair per customer AT THE TIME
THE CABLE WAS INSTALLED. That's right -- no expansion was even
considered. Given the upscale nature of the community, the undeveloped
property, and the fact that a radio transmitter site was at the top,
this was the most stupid thing a utility could have done. It certainly
would have been cheaper to install a larger cable at the time than to
have to later install a whole new cable which is what eventually

In the meantime, GTE used its scourge of telephony, subscriber
carrier.  I have already denounced the use of this nonsense, something
that GTE has always made heavy use of when its woefully inadequate
cable planning has become evident.

Other telcos manage to plan. Other telcos manage to avoid subscriber
carrier. I live in a neighborhood that is over thirty years old. For
miles in every direction is property zoned R-1 (residential
single-family use). The nearest shopping center of any size is more
than four miles away. Have I had trouble getting additional lines? No.
Have my neighbors? No. Is anyone on subscriber carrier? No.

Next excuse, GTE? Is there someone ELSE we can blame for your lack of

> This type of development is not usually done overnight, not even over
> a summer. If something this major is missed, it is not just the
> customer's fault for not telling the "utilities". The utilities must
> accept blame for not doing a "good" job of staying current with
> activities in the area.

A telco can even forecast on its own. GTE appears to just be ahead of
its time. The corporate way in many companies, and apparently in GTE,
is to sacrifice the long term for the short term. It installs the
absolute minimum that it can immediately get away with. Later on, it
can blame a host of "causes" when it explains to a customer or a whole
neighborhood why it cannot supply additional service.

This is pathetic in view of its recent acquisition of Contel. Contel's
impeccable planning is a wonder to behold. An associate who lives
twenty miles outside of Victorville (but served out of a Victorville
CO) can have as many lines as he likes. No subscriber carrier, no
excuses. Around him is a community that literally sprung up overnight.
Did Contel get caught with its pants down? Not a chance. Everyone has
as much phone service as he likes.

Eventually, GTE will impose its wretched way of doing things on poor
old Contel. Gone will be the Victorville offices, repair center,
everything. It will all be turned over to 1000 Jokes, where the
Artificial Persons will tell the desert customers why their phones
cannot be installed/fixed/moved/changed/upgraded. This merger has made
me more angry than almost any other telecom news in the past couple of
years. Fortunately, the inevitable has been postponed by the CPUC,
which has demanded that, for the present, Contel be operated as a
separate company. Anyone now wonder why?

I appreciate the efforts of well-meaning people at GTE. But the
company is SO rotten that I cannot imagine that much could ever be
done without a soul transplant. Yes, everyone can come up with a good
experience with GTE (even I can, but with broadcast services, not the
telco per se). But overall, if GTE set the standard in this country
rather than the former Bell System, Mexico's telephone service would
start to look very good.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 723 1395      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Wed, 29 Jul 92 01:18 PDT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Wires of Mystery

David Brightbill <> writes:

> Every time I drive from my home in the swamps of North Florida to
> Georgia, I wonder about a wire that runs for a few miles along the
> road.  This is a little used back road which was reportedly once
> popular with the moonshine crowd.  The road is so isolated that there
> aren't even power lines or indications of burried cables running along
> side most of it.  The line in question starts in Florida where the
> power line ends.  It is two bare copper lines hanging on glass
> insulators.  

I don't know about your wires, but you might be amused at a typical
practice of GTE. A number of years ago, the cable that follows a road
to one of my mountain top sites was damaged. It failed during some
major flooding and earth movement about a decade ago. GTE's
"temporary" repair was to literally string some fifty-pair IW along
the roadway and lay it in the bushes. No temporary poles, no
protection of any kind, not even the use of outdoor service cable.

This lashup hack job sat around for nearly the past ten years. Within
the last year, GTE decided to bury a permanent cable. Did it dig a
nice neat little trench at the side of the narrow road? Of course not.
It tore up a trench right down the middle of the road, buried the
cable, and then did a wretchedly poor job of filling it in. Since I
have to drive this road regularly, it is a constant reminder of GTE's
wonderful way of tending to business.

Isn't there a GTE in Florida?

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 92 03:50 PDT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: Contel After GTE

turner@Dixie.COM writes:

> Clay County has been served by Contel, who has made
> some fairly substantial investiments in the area (REA financed of
> course).  Anyway while I was there I noticed GTE had pulled all of
> their customer service operations out of Clay County.

This is standard GTE practice: centralize everything regardless of its
impact on customer service, public relations, or even profitability.
After all, if you need more money, just raise rates. GTE already has
substantially higher rates in California than Pac*Bell for a
significantly reduced level of service, so it is certainly possible to
con a PUC into going along.

My "desert hideaway" is served by Contel. Nearby is a small building
that houses a remote from the main switch many miles away. On the
front of the building are the block letters, C-O-N-T-E-L.  Recently,
the 'C' had fallen off and we had just assumed that it would remain
missing until GTE took over and pulled the rest of them off. But
yesterday it was noticed that the 'C' had been restored. So apparently
the "absorption" of Contel by GTE here in California is not just
around the corner.

That is good since we are prepared to pull up stakes and move the
operation elsewhere. Unfortunately, we require a level of service at
the facility that GTE could never provide in its wildest dreams.

> Another GTE story, told to me recently by a OSP contractor who got his
> start as a GTE lineman in KY: Aparentaly GTE got a rate increase based
> on some new services to be offered as part of a REA sponsered upgrade.

This is another standard GTE sleaze: "provide" some insignificant,
useless "improvement" to service (such as having business offices open
until 8 PM on Thursdays) and then use that as justification to jack up
rates. Understand that Contel already charges "higher than normal"
rates in California because it operates almost exclusively in rural
locales. Regulations allow telcos providing such service to compensate
for the higher costs of providing service in sparcely populated
districts. This is, of course, in addition to the ultra-cheap REA
loans that Contel, GTE, and other rural telcos are entitled to. (A
recent TV news magazine called this practice into question, claiming
that the need for such assistance was long past.)

In any event, GTE almost always demands a rate increase in any telco
it takes over. The claim is that it provides a higher level of service
(absolute balogna) and requires compensation for equipment upgrading.
Contel in California (and I assume in other states) is a progressive
operation that uses the most modern equipment and provides impeccable
service to which GTE's brand cannot even be compared. IMHO, when GTE
finally rips the Contel name off the buildings and tears them down, it
should be required to lower rates by a substantial amount, reflecting
the reduced level of service that will inevitably be provided.

> Anyway GTE didn't get the loan and thus was going to be making too
> much money.

GTE always makes too much money. Well, at least it charges too much.
What happens after that is anyone's guess.

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Date: Fri, 20 Aug 92 00:00 GMT
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: GTE Thinks I live in 213

aimla!ruby!rudholm@uunet.UU.NET (Mark Rudholm) writes:

> Can't somebody put GTE out of our misery??!!!

Well, you could always do what a major client of mine is in the
process of doing. Ignoring advice to not locate a billing center in
GTE area, this outfit took space in a Long Beach industrial park. For
the past year the GTE horrors have been non-stop.

The first problem was so typical GTE: "Sorry, we don't have the
facilities in your area to give you additional lines." GTE NEVER has
enough facilities for ANYTHING. If you need 100 lines, it has twenty
available. If you need one, it has none. Mind you, Long Beach is a
major city in Los Angeles County -- very much a part of the LA metro
area. The billing center was located in an industrial park, not an
isolated residential district. Yet GTE did not have enough lines.

The next problem was T1 delivery of MCI. GTE missed deadline after
deadline installing the hi-cap circuit. Finally when legal action was
threatened, it appeared that GTE hired an outside firm to engineer the
circuit and to install it. In other words, apparently GTE did not even
have a clue as to how to provide that type of service!

There have been billing errors, service outages, and a host of other
problems. At all times, GTE reps were snotty, uncooperative, and
exuded the distinct air of "we are the phone company -- where the hell
else are you going to go?"

Answer: Anaheim. These people were actually considering just pulling
the plug and going out of business when they finally came to their
senses. It turns out that the move to Anaheim will pay for itself
within a couple of months, after which their costs will be
substantially less. When asking Pac*Bell for due dates in Anaheim, the
responses have been, "When do you need it?" Indeed, my experience with
Pac*Bell is that circuits frequently get turned up early. When you
call GTE asking why an order was not installed, you find they lost it.

Trust me. My quarter-century of exhaustive experience is telling you
that if telephone service is important to you and you live in
California, avoid GTE like the plague. If you have a business, never,
ever, locate it in a GTE service area. If you do, you might just as
well get your chapters ready to file now. I am in the process of
compiling a list of businesses that would love to put a contract out
on GTE. Within my circle, possibly a hundred or so people, GTE is the
devil incarnate.

So next month Long Beach will lose a thriving company and Anaheim will
gain one. Is it any wonder that the Town Council of Los Gatos passed a
resolution condemning GTE?

        John Higdon         |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115      | San Jose, CA 95150 |       M o o !

Subject: Re: The Worst Phone Lines in the US?
Date: 6 Nov 92 00:44:42 PST (Fri)
From: (John Higdon)

David Lesher <wb8foz@SCL.CWRU.Edu> writes:

> BS is still under investigation for a multi-million fraud case re:
> repair. Seems that if a problem exists longer than 24 hours, the PSC
> must be notified in the yearly report, and the sub gets a refund.
> Guess what. Virtually EVERY ticket got 'kicked' before 23.9 hours.

This is exactly what GTE California has done to EVERY SINGLE trouble
report that I have ever submitted. Spot checking with friends and
associates reveals similar experience. You report trouble to repair
and when there has been nothing done, you call back. You are told that
the problem has been corrected. When you complain that it certainly
has not, another ticket is opened. Using this sleazy trick, GTE
manages to maintain better looking repair resolution records with the

> At long last, a fired supervisor spilled the beans to the PSC and the
> press. When I last talked to my contact in state goverment, they were
> still turning over rocks on the case ...

GTE employees are usually too busy toting the company line, blaming
customers for all the company's deficiencies. Look how much flack I
have taken on this forum from GTE-types for merely relating
experiences and observations. Rather than fix the problems, it is
easier to just attempt to discredit me.

 From the "GTE Definitions Handbook" by Yours Truly:

Smart Park-- n. A place where GTE has actually installed enough
facilities to provide real telephone service. No real service is
generally provided, however.

John Higdon <> (hiding out in the desert)

Subject: Re: Private Lines, Bandwidth
Date: 15 Nov 92 01:27:45 PST (Sun)
From: (John Higdon)

Alan Boritz <72446.461@CompuServe.COM> writes:

> AT&T, NY Tel, and just about every other telco in the US use *0 dBm*
> as their nominal level transmission standard, NOT +8.

> That's a hell of an example to set for a public radio station at an
> educational institution: know your standards ... and ignore them.

Decades ago, I was involved with a small classical station that had
its studio in Los Gatos (GTE).  We had just moved the programming
operation from the transmitter site up on the hill and had 15KHz phone
lines installed. From day one, the lines were nothing but trouble.
They were muddy. They were unreliable. They had about 50 db loss. If
you think GTE is incompetent now, you should have seen it back in the
late sixties!

Since the studio and the transmitter were "served" out of the same
office, it would have seemed a simple matter for GTE to have provided
decent circuits. But no. We managed to equalize the muddiness out
ourselves. But the worst problem was the incessant "dialing clicks"
that could be heard over the loudest fortissimo passages and that
would raise one right out of his chair during the pianissimo segments.

Our solution was unconventional. We impedance-matched a pair of Dynaco
amplifiers to the phone lines at the studio end. Then we drove them at
about the ten-watt level. This had the effect of pushing the dial
clicks down about thirty decibels, but had the additional effect of
leaking symphonic music into a number of telephones in the area. GTE
was furious. So were we. It ended up being a standoff (GTE did not
disconnect us; we did not go to the PUC) until the station was sold
and the new owners bought a 950 MHz link to the studio and also began
playing rock music.

John Higdon <> (hiding out in the desert)

Date: Sun, 20 Dec 92 17:12 PST
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: GTE and Subscriber Carrier (Jack Decker) writes:

> 2) I am told that this system puts six subscribers on one line, and
> there is NO "baseband" subscriber (that is, one of the six does not
> get the actual physical pair ... there's no "A party" and "B party" as
> in some other carrier systems.

It does, however, sound as though it is dysfunctionally the same as the
simple A/B subscriber carrier system that I have oh so much experience
with from GTE.

> 4) The "at rest" idle line voltage is only 15 volts, which has already
> caused some problems with certain equipment I had.  However, the "off
> hook" voltage seems to be a healthy six volts.

The reason for that is simple: the unit is powered off of a very
weenie fifteen VDC supply. Therefore the maximum open-circuit voltage
will be the fifteen that you measured. This can be a problem for any
line-powered equipment or any equipment that detects open-circuit
voltage to determine line status.

> 5) On voice calls, I find it very difficult to hear the person at the
> other end (using a standard 500-type telephone).  However, my modem
> seems to work fine at 2400 bps.  And, wonder of wonders, after being
> told that my fax machine probably would not work on these lines, it
> appears to work fine, at least for outgoing calls (haven't tested it
> on incoming yet, but then I don't receive many faxes).

The biggest problem with all of the subscriber carrier units is
INCONSISTENCY in levels. I had one that was so loud that the
distortion was painful -- that is until the power supply pooped out and
then it just faded away. You might want to check the transmission
times of your fax.  What is probably happening is that there is some
serious speed fallback going on. In other words, you may be able to
send a fax OK, but it may take three times as long as it should.

> 6) Don't know if it's the carrier or the central office, but dial
> pulsing at 20 PPS (pulses per second) is NOT accepted... I had to drop
> back to the standard 10 PPS.  You'd think a digital exchange would
> accept 20 PPS, but maybe not.

This is probably the fault of the subscriber carrier unit being unable
to follow your 20 PPS dialing interruptions. I had one that could not
even transmit 10 PPS; it was so bad that rotary dialing would not work
at all. Fortunately, a touch-tone phone worked fine so I just started
using one.

> 7) If someone drives by using a two-way radio, the signal comes in
> loud and clear on my phone for the few seconds that they are within a
> couple hundred feet of my carrier unit (don't take the distance as
> absolute truth; this has only happened once so the distance estimate
> is a wild guess at best).

These things are very sensitive to RF. Picture, if you will, one of
these things installed at the transmitter site for a high-power FM
station. Then try to imagine what it is like to carry on a
conversation with rock music several times as loud in the telephone as
the party's voice you are trying to hear. Fortunately, I had physical
access to the unit and found that using a garbage can lid
strategically placed, the RF-induced noise could be minimized.

> Should I just leave well enough alone and maybe get a volume control
> handset, or should I keep badgering GTE to give me a better line?

Always badger GTE. That company is going to have to learn someday that
its laughable service does not wash in a non-third-world country. I
now complain about every little thing on every single GTE account that
I am in charge of. If nothing else, it might harm the service stats
enough that the PUC might take notice. This applies to any phone
company; if Pac*Bell gave me anything approaching the miserable
service I have come to expect from GTE, it would be treated the same

> The GTE repairman told me that I am about seven or eight miles out
> from the central office, but you'd think that since I'm on carrier
> anyway, the carrier equipment would boost the signal strength.  Maybe
> not, though.

This whole arrangement is totally obsolete. If you had a real phone
company, you would be served out of a digital remote switch physically
located near you. It, in turn, would be connected via digital circuits
to the master CO located in town. In this way, your telephone service
would sound as though you lived across the street from the central

My business associate lives about twenty miles from his CO and his
phone service and transmission are flawless. But then his telco is
not-yet-GTE-ized Contel, and the switch is not the dreaded GTD-5, but
a DMS-100. Makes a big difference, you know.

> I recall at one time reading some discussion here of a piece of
> equipment designed for "long loops".  I don't recall what it was,
> though, nor whether it would be applicable in this situation.  If such
> a device would be helpful, I wonder what my chances would be of
> convincing GTE to hang one on my line (assuming they've ever even
> heard of such a device, which is doubtful in and of itself).

The only real fix is for your system to be brought into the nineties.
All analog boosters, loop extenders, etc., etc., are bogus when
compared to the now-standard way of doing things. Going digital would
increase capacity by an order of magnitude, make the audio transmission 
perfect, and improve your service in every way. That is why I suspect
GTE has not considered it.

John Higdon  |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | 10288 0 700 FOR-A-MOO | +1 408 264 4407

Date: Sun, 31 Jan 93 09:41 PST
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: "Advanced Switching" at SWBT (Chris Petrilli) writes:

> 	1) She had no clue what T3/DS3 service was, and said that SWBT
> didn't provide it and she had no way of pricing it.

> 	2) Told me that I was "very lucky" that I was in the 83X
> using a ESS1A".

> I don't know about everyone else, but while the 1A is a nice switch
> and all, it doesn't quite qualified for "most advanced switch" even
> with 100 adjuct boxes on it.

> I was also SHOCKED at the cost of running a T1 line from the 83X

At the risk of sounding like a Pac*Bell shill, a few comments are in
order. Over the years I have accused Pac*Bell (and its pre-divestiture
incarnation, Pacific Telephone) of being the most backward LEC in the
country. It seemed as though about five to seven years after something
was commonplace in other parts of the country, Pac*Bell finally got
around to offering it.

No more is this the case. In fact, in yesterday's {Chronicle}, there
was an article wherein Pac*Bell acknowledged the past and spoke of its
goal to become the nation's most advanced LEC in short order. This
will be accomplished by the rapid upgrading of every single switch to
digital, replacing the 1/1AESS equipment still in service on an
accelerated basis.

As to digital circuits, Pac*Bell now almost begs customers to take
POTS on T1. There is no extra charge. Already reasonably priced, point
to point hi-cap will have the bottom dropped out of the pricing
structure in August.

And at no time do you ever get a rep (at least I don't) that says
something stupid such as "We don't offer that service ...", unless, of
course, the company really does not (such as Caller-ID). Add to that
the lack of silly restrictions such as limiting the number of
residence lines that can be installed and the lack of screwy
definitions as to what constitutes residence service, and you have
(already) a progressive LEC.

John Higdon  |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | 10288 0 700 FOR-A-MOO | +1 408 264 4407

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: Pac*Bell and Distinctive Ringing (was Re: Save Your Breath with 
	the PUC)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Wed, 19 Jul 1995 04:04:57 GMT
Lines: 52

In article <3uhp3o$> (Jim
Gottlieb) writes:

>Almost every other telco in the country (including GTE California)
>offers a form of distinctive ringing, whereby two or more numbers are
>assigned to the same physical pair but use different ringing patterns
>to indicate which number was called.

I am inclined to tell you to save your breath with the PUC. Story

A friend of mine in Los Gatos had Call-Waiting from GTE. It had a
peculiar characteristic. Friend calls another party (any other party,
anywhere in the world). While he is talking he gets "call-waited". He
takes second call. Concludes conversation with second call and goes
back to the first call. Finally, he concludes first call and hangs up.
Problem is: that connection is still there; it does not drop. The
person he called cannot use his phone, no matter where it is: Los
Gatos, Bay Area, California, Arkansas--makes no difference.

He first noticed this when some long distance charges came through for
eight and ten hour calls (to Arkansas, as a matter of fact). Finally,
we did some testing, and sure enough--he could predictably and reliably
put anyone's phone out of service by calling the phone and then being
call-waited during the conversation.

There were numerous calls to GTE repair. Many, many, many calls, as a
matter of fact. He must have been told fifty times that "the problem
has been repaired" only to be hassled by a friend about his
"call-wasting killer phone" again. Finally, more than slightly fed up
with GTE's inability to handle what seemed like a simple problem, he
wrote the PUC.

The PUC said, in essence, "GTE informs us that the behavior you observe
is the way the feature is supposed to work. As much as we would like to
help you, it is important that you realize that service features cannot
be tailored to each customer's specific needs. If the feature does not
work in a manner useful to you, then you should consider dropping that
particular service."

In other words, GTE claimed that Call-Waiting, as offered by them, was
designed to seize and hold called lines, putting them out of service,
making them useless for summoning emergency aid, and causing ridiculous
long distance charges to occur. The PUC bought that and told the
customer that he could "take it or leave it".

So you want to complain to the PUC that you don't like Pac*Bell's
version of Distinctive Ringing? Good luck!

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 1995 20:53:28 GMT
Lines: 31

Pacific Bell has finally perfected its "Automated Repair
Service/Customer Brush-off" system.

Last night, I found on of my few lines not yet carried on DEF to be
busy to incoming calls, yet the peg counter on the switch had shown no
incoming calls for three weeks. So I popped the bridge clips off the
RJ--still busy--and called "repair service".

An automated voicemail jail system told me that the line was "being
tested; please hold". Then it informed me that "our tests have
determined that the problem on the line is in your equipment. A phone
has been left off the hook, or there is a problem in your inside
wiring. Pacific Bell is not responsible for maintenance of your
telephone equipment or your inside wiring. Goodbye."

So there I am, standing with what should be appearing as an open toward
the CO, my equipment FULLY disconnected, and a machine tells me that
telco is not responsible.

By calling priority repair (write this number down if you live in
Pac*Bell territory--611 is of no further use--811-8081), I was able to
get a Monday morning appointment. No cable company I have ever dealt
with is that arrogant and rude in dealing with customers.

Just another nail in Pac*Bell's competitive coffin as far as I am

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 03:56:04 GMT
Lines: 26

In article <48olch$> Don Hackler <> writes:

>611 has been a disaster and shows no sign of improving. 
>You know this.  You post (well deserved) flamage about it.
>Why do you bother with anything but the priority repair number?

Optimism, I suppose. I just cannot accept that a company with the
history and tradition of Pac*Bell is willing to let the one single
competitive advantage it enjoys over local pretenders dribble down the
drain. Not long ago, a good comeback to anyone suggesting that dialtone
might come from someone other than the LEC was, "how would you like to
call the cable company if your phone stops working?"

Nowadays, that does not seem to be such a bad idea. I never had the
cable company tell me my set was bad without even checking the problem

>Just out of curiousity, who else is offering serious dialtone 
>competition today in the SF Bay Area?

Bay Area Teleport?

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 05:25:39 GMT
Lines: 15

In article <48oj2i$> Rahul Dhesi <> writes:

>When the voicemail maze asks you if you are calling from the line on
>which you are reporting trouble, answer yes.  This skips a couple of
>dungeons in the maze and should get you to a human quickly.

Too slow, I guess. It seemed rather unlikely (at the time) that I would
be able to report trouble on a line from the line itself, particularly
if it were shorted. But I suppose the machine would not be that
logical. Something to try if I ever call 611 again.

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995 04:31:24 GMT
Lines: 20

In article <48qrtp$> (Roger Books) writes:

>I really hope you are wrong.  I have been informed by our local carrier
>(Centel) that they don't have a market for ISDN so they aren't going
>to bother.  The only way I am going to get a reasonable data line to my
>house is if the cable companies do it. :(

ISDN is still pay-as-you-go, time/distance-sensitive, intermittant
connectivity. It is nothing more than an extension of the same
telephone mentality that originated early in this century, except for
the higher bit rate. It is NOT network mentality.

The cable companies are in a perfect position to carry network topology
at high speed. I mean twenty-four hour, flat-rate connectivity--not the
illusion of network communications connectivity that ISDN provides. 

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 21:47:18 GMT
Lines: 41

In article <48qfa3$> (Rpadula) writes:

>If anyone comes knocking on my door trying to sell me cable telephone
>service, they'll be promptly kicked in the butt!  This stuff is *NOT*
>ready for prime time -- I know, I used to work on developing one system
>and have a good friend who worked on another.  Don't hold your breath!

After talking once again with a Pac*Bell supervisor, I think that I
would greet someone from the cable company with open arms. I
specifically complained about the automated line tester that insisted
the problem was in my equipment. She informed me that it was going to
get much more like that in the future and that even speaking to any
human about a service problem would be very, very difficult. So much
for Pacific Bell.

As a matter of fact, this morning I had a mini-confrontation with the
repair people who insisted (live and in person on the phone) that the
problem was indeed in my equipment. After a back-and-forth tug-o-war,
they implied that I would be charged the "if we find the problem in
your equipment" fee since they were supposedly not at fault. So I
dragged out the only weapon left in my arsenal:

"OK, let's schedule a meet at the demark. I will bring a line/trunk
analyzer, and you bring whatever you like. Just to be fair, we will do
this testing at the MPOE to eliminate building wiring as the cause. If
we can pull ground start dial tone at the MPOE, then I will cheerfully
pay your scare fees. If, however, we cannot pull ground start dial tone
at that location and my analyzer shows "clear" into the house, then my
rates are $75 an hour with a half-day minimum, due and payable. Deal?"

The bottom line: thirty minutes later they were able to isolate the
trouble in the central office. Remember that this is two days after the
automatic 611 testing machine unequivocally announced to me that the
trouble was in my equipment or inside wiring.

Telcos (particularly any like Pacific Bell) are in real trouble.

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 00:09:45 GMT
Lines: 21

In article <> (Dean Heinen) writes:

>I also have doubts about many cable companies ability to provide reliable 
>data service.  Hell, they often can't get video right.   TCI certainly cannot 
>in this area.  

Carrying dozens of delicate many-megahertz-wide analog channels with
minimal frequency and phase aberations is a MUCH greater technological
feat than carrying a telephone conversation over a copper pair. Such a
comparison is like saying that the bus ride to Dulles was just fine,
but the Concorde landed in Paris twenty minutes late. There is a LOT
more to go wrong with cable TV than there is with your telephone line.

And just for the record, my cable service is MUCH more reliable than my
telephone service, which failed several times last year and on one
occasion took Pacific Bell a week to fix.

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom,
From: (John Higdon)
Subject: Re: And Downhill It Goes
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Distribution: na
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 00:35:59 GMT
Lines: 61

In article <> (David Lesher) writes:

>My doubts re: cable companies are first based on politics & people,
>not technology.

Yes, of course, Pacific Bell is totally non-political. They take PUC
commissioners out to lunch because they enjoy good companionship and
enjoy the same fine California wines. Nope--nothing political about
Pacific Bell.

>Nobody WORKS for the cable company. The guy who hires the
>subcontractor installers is likely one himself. There is no
>institutional memory, or loyality.

Well, let's see. When Pacific Bell was installing the superhypeway in
my yard, the trucks said "AT&T" on the side. When they put in a new
cable to accommodate more circuits to my house, the trucks had
"Voltelcon" (a cable contractor) on the side.

On the other hand, when TCI replaced some amplifiers on the pole, the
truck said "TCI" on the side.

Now--who does what for whom here?

>There is no "by the BSP" standards of work (quality) anywhere.
>Look at the continuing battles the FCC has with them over leakage
>from their OSP.

When I complained about leakage from the cable once years ago, an army
of trucks showed up on the same day. They fixed it, and the problem has
never returned. On the other hand, I recently had a T1 go dead. I
called priority repair. The tech called back and said (and I'm
serious), "I can't loop your CSU so that's probably where the trouble

"Of course you can't loop my CSU: the line is dead." This was a
Saturday night. After acknowledging a probable telco problem, the tech
responded with, "OK, we can have someone on this first thing Monday
morning." "How about having someone on it within the hour???" "Oh, gee,
I would have to get someone out of bed at this time of night on a
weekend." (For the record, the problem turned out to be missing jumpers
in the CO that someone has mistakenly yanked. In other words, sheer

>The entire system was built cheap with fast-payback venture capital
>money.  While this does mean they depreciate it far faster than a
>RBOC; it also falls to pieces in a few years. And in the
>meantime, expect lots of grief...

I see. They build telcos on solid, technical foundations with lengthy
depreciations. So even though we customers have to put up with ancient,
outmoded equipment that takes forever to be retired, we get wonderful,
useful and responsive service.

Would you like to buy one of the Bay Area's seven major bridges? How
about all of them in a package deal?

 John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 |   +1 500 FOR-A-MOO    | +1 408 264 4407
              |             | 

From: (John Higdon)
Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom
Subject: Re: CID - California NEWS FLASH!
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 1996 19:58:04 -0700

In article <4psvn4$>,
(Kwilliams3) wrote:

> It's kind of funny how Pac Bell employees get the news from the radio
> instead of their own company?!?

Not surprising anymore. Pacific Bell is in chaos. I have had numerous
discussions with other engineers as well as Pac*Bell people. At its
present rate of decline, Pacific Bell will find itself a lesser player in
California within five years. Businesses have already begun to desert the
company on a major scale, using competition to carry data and leased
circuits. As the major telco with the LEAST robust offering of local
dial-based features and services in the US, many people are waiting to see
what the competition brings.

Internally, the people who know what they are doing in every corner of the
company have been laid off or "early retired". One engineer quipped that
Pacific Bell might just as well discontinue offering audio services, since
there is no one left who knows anything about them. With repair
commitments going from hours to weeks, the company is no longer able to
provide "mission critical" service to any business that requires it.

Unless SWB can turn things around, Pacific Bell is through. I have dropped
Pac*Bell from consideration on a number of projects for clients in the
past few months. An associate of mine who used to "wear Pac*Bell
underwear" so to speak now admits that when his current rep is laid off or
is transferred, he has no further need to give the company any
consideration in whatever area may now be served by the competition.

On the other hand, I am most delighted by the recent "can-do" attitude
exhibited by GTE. I get repairs in hours. I get to talk to knowledgable
people. I get reliable service and leased lines. GTE folks give answers.
Pac*Bell people say, "we haven't been told about that yet...".

John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   | +1 408 264 4115  |      FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | +1 500 FOR-A-MOO |+1 408 264 4407
             |         |

From: (John Higdon)
Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom
Subject: Re: CID - California NEWS FLASH!
Date: Sun, 16 Jun 1996 20:02:13 -0700

In article <>, Wally Roberts
<> wrote:

> I have never seen Pacific Bell act in such an outrageous manner before.
> They have truly lost it, in my view.
> They have twice taken a confirmed order from me for CID and twice
> reneged.  Based on my latest order, taken on Wednesday, I purchased
> a fair amount of CID CPE equipment. 

Just another symptom of the major deterioration that has consumed Pacific
Bell. Last year, I proposed a major system to a MAJOR client that involved
dedicated data circuits all over the west coast, DEF, and a number of
other services from Pac*Bell. Due to one thing and another, the project
has suffered many delays. Now it would appear that Pacific Bell is no
longer even able to deliver key product in areas that were critical to the
project. I am one step away from throwing the whole thing into redesign,
and this time involving MFS and some other players.
> If they don't launch by July 1st, they will see two things from me:
> (1) a written informal complaint to the FCC for their failure to
> deliver my CPN to AT&T.  (2) a small claims court summons for the
> price and inconvience of my useless CID CPN equipment.

Since the other telcos in the state (all of whom are now offering CID)
display Pac*Bell callers' numbers, all the delay means is that people who
could not get their blocking act together are protected from the peering
CNID-eyes of other Pac*Bell customers ONLY. For once it would be nice if
Pacific Bell considered the convenience, interest, and necessity of its
customers who have their acts together rather than the just the slobbering
idiots who don't even know what Caller ID even is.

> Also, you think they would hang around newsgroups like this to see
> what is being said.  Naa, they are too comfy in their self-deluded
> arrogance and confusion.

No, they DO read the newsgroups. However, it has been explained to me by
people within the company (who have asked to remain anonymous) that there
is not much to say. What is being said here is just about the way it is.
When I report on Pacific Bell, I am not just making it up. My information
comes directly from people within the company who know. The competence and
pride of doing a job well are traits no longer found in Pac*Bell. Those
that are not just waiting for the axe to fall are actively looking
elsewhere for employment. It is not a good company to work for anymore,
and most of the installers, plant people, and administrators that I have
spoken to insist that it is just going to get worse.

John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   | +1 408 264 4115  |      FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | +1 500 FOR-A-MOO |+1 408 264 4407
             |         |

From: (John Higdon)
Newsgroups: alt.dcom.telecom
Subject: Re: PabBell CID 6/15
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 18:11:31 -0700

In article <4q21uj$>, (Diane
Blackman) wrote:

> Wally Roberts wrote:
> : Well, GTECAL isn't beating PacBell with Caller ID in California, after all.
> Oops, maybe it will.

No "maybe" about it. Pac*Bell is dead last in the US in offering Caller
ID, even if it turned on by the end of June--which it won't. Just one more
"due date" that Pacific Bell has missed for me this year. The company is
batting 1000 in missed due dates so far in 1996.

> Hee hee, they also sent the same letters to people who HAD ordered
> complete blocking, and stranger still, even where the complete blocking 
> was (supposedly) effective.  So another delay while they untangle the
> mess.  ?Am I supposed to trust anything they say?

No one can. Pacific Bell is now a joke. The marketing department is now
apparently in charge (inmates running the asylum). That which works today
does so because someone set it up years ago and it simply hasn't broken
yet. As someone with a business that uses complex services from Pac*Bell,
I am becoming very nervous.

John Higdon  |    P.O. Box 7648   | +1 408 264 4115  |      FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | +1 500 FOR-A-MOO |+1 408 264 4407
             |         |

From: fgoldstein@bbn.|nospam.|com (Fred R. Goldstein)
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.isdn
Subject: Re: GTE California tarrifs
Date: 18 Jun 1997 16:39:48 GMT

In article <>, says...

>Have you ever heard anything so stupid in your entire life.
>Why do we treat telecommunications this way? Just imagine the
>government telling Dell they can sell computers at a certain price
>because they can't possibly make money. 
>I'm sick of the government being involved in setting rates for phone
>service. It's about time we let the market set the price. 

Trust me, I'm not speaking for GTE when I discuss this.

Dell sells computers into a competitive market.  GTE and PacBell sell phone 
service in non-competitive markets.  Competition is planned, and the first 
dribs and drabs are showing up, but it's one thing to *permit* competition 
and another thing to actually *have* it.

PUCs have agendas.  I don't know the CA PUC very well.  A couple of decades 
ago, they were giving GTE a really hard time.  The rule was "rate of return 
regulation", and they allowed GTE and PacBell a really low rate of return, 
which meant that they could do better investing their money practically 
anywhere else.  Low rate of return, of course, holds down basic rates.  But 
it's a traditional way to regulate a monopoly; CA just got too clever for 
their own good, and the networks were not funded as well as they might have 
been otherwise.

Rate of return is no longer specifically capped, so far as I know, but rates 
are still regulated within certain parameters.  Alas, economic theory 
dictates that in a truly competitive market, price would approximate cost, 
and regulation as a substitute for competition would tend to use cost-based 
rates.  Some PUCs don't go along with this, and instead do anything to hold 
down the basic monthly rate for residence analog lines.  Toll, ISDN, data 
services, whatever, all are overpriced to create subsidies for the proverbial 
little old lady with the black rotary phone.  Of course most of the subsidy 
flows elsewhere.  

>On 17 Jun 1997 04:00:37 GMT, (Daryl Daughters) wrote:
>>He said he
>>rejected the first application because he felt GTE's proposed unlimited
>>rate for residential wouldn't allow GTE to make money, and therefore would
>>be unfair to competors.

Without knowing the specifics in CA, I can state that it's well known that 
local usage costs under (on average) a half-penny a minute, and flat-rate 
lines average less than 30 hours a month.  That bounds the flat rate usage 
cost at under $9/month, but in fact the real numbers are even lower.  I do 
not know GTE-CA's, and if I did I couldn't tell you :-) .  However, GTE does 
want to be the telco of choice, expanding into areas beyond its 
former-monopoly franchise.
Fred R. Goldstein   k1io    fgoldstein"at"
BBN Corp., Cambridge MA  USA         +1 617 873 3850
Opinions are mine alone; sharing requires permission.

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