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[ NNSquad ] Re: Google Voice permitting porting of mobile phone numbers

No question the telephone stuff is a mess. I was asking the question to give
one example of the many problems in managing my telephony in the same way I
have the DIY option for email. Porting to GV, as you note, is an incremental

This is also part of the larger protocol problem that I cover in
http://rmf.vc/CES2011.nn -- protocols tend to be in line with status quo
business models. This is an endemic problem. The IETF is (or was) an
exception from simpler times when not as much money was at stake and DIY
implementations could set examples. I remember asking Craig McCaw about
extending cellular phone features to land lines and he simply noted that
that's not where the money is. There's no real difference beyond those
generated by the business models just like we cordless phones have their own
protocols apart from cellular and IP.

This is all engineering by the accidents of history. If you dive into the
cellular protocols you find that it is built on a compacted collection of
protocols found lying around such as Hayes modem AT protocols used to
communicate within your phone!
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Serial_Programming/Modems_and_AT_Commands (I
was going to say sanitary landfill but sanitary is the wrong word)

ENUM doesn't really help that much because the ITU has squeezed them out
citing security concerns based on the idea of encoding information in the
telephone numbers. This is akin to putting disk addresses as UserIDs (as DEC
did on the PDP-10 and thus CompuServe.

Liberating phone numbers would take a lot of work for little value -- after
all why are we dialing numbers in the first place. The should be the unify
finding and using identifies with URLs being one model (if we accept the DNS
-- another issue).

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Bob Frankston
Sent: Thursday, January 20, 2011 12:17
To: 'Lauren Weinstein'; nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Google Voice permitting porting of mobile phone

But if we're playing fair then porting should work both ways ... I should be
able to port a number away from Google Voice.

Ultimately the goal should be "ownership" of your phone number like you own
your name so you don't have to worry about investing in a number only to
find that it got lost because some form or another had a comma in the wrong
place or someone simply stole it as with domain names.

   [ This is all considerably more complicated than it appears to
     most people.  Porting a mobile number to Google Voice is simply
     moving a number, not a service per se.  If you want to continue
     cell phone service, you still need to pay a carrier for voice
     and/or data service, typically on a *different* phone number.
     Unless you're willing to use GV solely through your computer (e.g.
     GV/Gmail interfaces or eventually VoIP I'm assuming) there are
     other entities to deal with (and in fact, you obviously need
     an ISP/mobile carrier to even access GV/Gmail directly).

     Porting of landline numbers is a similar case.  If you could
     transfer a number to GV, but wanted to maintain a landline, you'd
     still need to either have a landline with a different number --
     OR -- Google would need to become your "local phone company" to
     directly support that physical line.

     Now we went through this idea some years back, with all sorts of
     entities offering to "become your local phone company."  This was
     all piggybacked on the dominant phone company circuits though.
     At one point, I switched one of my home lines "local service" to
     MCI in order to take advantage of an attractive long distance
     deal.  This turned out to be a terrible idea.  Everything about
     the line was the same -- I got the same PacBell dialtone and
     services as before, except the billing was now coming from MCI.

     When I had an outage on the line, PacBell repair wouldn't talk to
     me since they no longer considered me to be their customer.  I
     had to do everything through MCI, who apparently FAXed requests
     to PacBell repair -- back and forth that way.  What should have
     been an outage lasting a few hours stretched out for 4 days -- no
     doubt exactly as PacBell intended.  I naturally dumped the MCI
     account and switched back to PacBell immediately after this, also
     as PacBell presumably intended.

     Theoretically (subject to the regulatory complications that would
     likely be triggered) Google could provide landline service directly
     into GV through similar arrangements.  But avoiding the same pitfalls
     as sunk the MCI service (they terminated it completely shortly after
     I cancelled) could be tricky.

     I use both YouMail and Google Voice extensively and in tandem.  At
     this stage, I would be reluctant to move any numbers to GV as
     a primary provider, since about 10% (more or less) of the calls
     to my GV numbers locally terminate in a disconnected number
     intercept rather than ringing into GV properly (both for external
     callers and when I call into the system myself).  This may well be
     a local facilities issue that is not experienced by GV users
     elsewhere, but it is confusing enough to callers ("hey, Lauren,
     your number is disconnected!") that it is of concern.

        -- Lauren Weinstein
           NNSquad Moderator ]

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Lauren Weinstein
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 23:00
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Google Voice permitting porting of mobile phone numbers

Google Voice permitting porting of mobile phone numbers

http://bit.ly/eaaOJh  (Engadget)

The comments associated with this link illustrate the expected
confusion about this procedure.

One issue of course, is that by definition it needs to be a mobile
number at this point, and porting that number terminates the existing
service plan for that phone, and may trigger early termination

If you only have one mobile phone, and you port its mobile number to
GV, what number are you using on your mobile phone?  None.  So that
phone is offline unless you get another number.  I'm wondering how
many people actually have working mobile numbers to "spare" in this
kind of scenario for porting?

Normally when you a change a mobile number you're not able to port the
old one, you have to give it up.  Hmm.  Obviously, the real game
changer would be porting of landline numbers, but that might trigger
carrier-level regulatory scrutiny, depending on FCC interpretation.

This appears right now to mainly apply to people who have two or more
mobile phones and are willing to shut one down anyway, or go through
the hassle of shutting down their only mobile phone and then
restarting with a new number, toward the goal of preserving the
original mobile number as a GV number.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com)
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800
Co-Founder, PFIR (People For Internet Responsibility): http://www.pfir.org
Founder, NNSquad (Network Neutrality Squad): http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, GCTIP (Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance):
Founder, PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Google Buzz: http://bit.ly/lauren-buzz