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Reply-To: John Higdon <>
Subject: Re: Caller ID on 800 Service
Date: 24 Dec 89 20:11:36 PST (Sun)
From: John Higdon <>

Marvin Sirbu <> writes:

> Unless the carriers are providing calling number identification to
> customers for free (fat chance!) they must file a tariff for the
> service with the FCC.  AT&T did indeed file a tariff with the FCC for
> its Info-Call service and charges 2-3 cents per calling number
> delivered.  We can thank the FCC for completely igonoring the privacy
> aspects of the tariff and approving it without much fanfare.

It is true that tariff would have to be filed with the FCC, but I had
discounted that when I made my comment. With the exception of
broadcasting, the FCC has historically avoided "social engineering"
aspects of the communications field. Originally, the purpose of the
FCC was to prevent chaos on the airwaves. From a logical point of
view, the FCC was correct to ignore the privacy aspects of 800 caller
number delivery. It's only function should have been to ensure that
the technical aspects of the feature were sound, did not violate any
other *technical* provisions of the rules and regs, and to advise on
the suitability of the proposed charge. Yes, indeed, we can thank the
FCC for doing its job, and not assuming the role of thought policeman
for us all.

BTW, answering an 800 number without calling number delivery is
roughly equivalent to answering a POTS line and having the operator
say, "I have a collect call, you've just accepted the charges, and
it's none of your business who it is."

But back to the FCC for a moment. To get an idea why I am against the
FCC meddling in areas other than technical one only has to look at the
way the commission handles the broadcaster. As you are no doubt aware,
commissioners are appointed by the party in the White House. Over the
past twenty-some years that I have been in the business, the FCC's
policies directly reflect the political leanings of the moment.

For instance, under Johnson, the FCC set up this incredibly exhaustive
list of requirements for public service that radio and television
station had to adhere to in order to keep their license. Every three
years, each and every station had to prove that they had met their
public service commitment. You remember public service, the stuff that
played every Sunday morning and late at night that no one listened to.

Many of these requirements lasted through the Nixon-Ford
administration, and stayed with Carter. Broadcasters jumped for joy as
the Reagan administration promised to ease up on all these programming
requirements. That plus a relaxing of many technical rules was
heralded as a major step forward. They thought they had arrived.

The Republicans had a surprise in store. Reacting to fundamentalists
and other righteous folk, the FCC has now set itself up as the
Prudence Peabody of the airwaves. For instance, a station in Las Vegas
was recently fined for playing a rock record (I forget what) that
somebody thought was obscene and complained about it. Never mind that
the same record routinely plays everywhere else in the country, or
that the place was, after all, Sin City. The FCC considers a station
guilty of obscenity until proven innocent--and most stations would
rather pay the fine than the high costs of litigation.

So this is what happens when the FCC tries to diddle with things that
are not related to the nuts and bolts of communication. I would rather
not have the FCC consider the social ramifications of the entities
that they oversee and stick to their design function: the
establishment and enforcement of technical standards in our
communications services.

> The FCC could have chosen to take the same policy stance as the
> California PUC and mandate the ability to block calling line
> forwarding to *IEC customers* (though not of course to the IEC itself
> which needs the number for billing purposes).  They chose not to.

Thank heaven for that.

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

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