Re: 'Phone Barons seek to control CU (what's new?)

Jonathan Day (
Thu, 09 May 1996 02:08:39 +0000

Elliott Mitchell wrote:
> I had a chat with my telecommunications guy about this subject, and he
> filled me in a bit, I'll pass along what he told me filtered through my own
> inexperience, incompetence and ignorance: The phone companies are, indeed,
> carrying all the internet traffic on their lines now, but at rates that are
> set based on a common standard. But here's where it gets messy. The
> standard data rate for a voice conversation is 64Kb, but -- for example --
> Internet Phone can get by with 7K (I think that's right), and somebody with
> half a brain can squeeze nine internet phone conversations into the space
> of one traditional voice circuit. My contact says that's why the 'phone
> companies are yelling, mostly because they can't do that too.

Oh, but they /can/! If they could be bothered, that is. When you make
a phone call, the /entire/ line is reserved for that call, even though
it's probably being used for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the time
that the call is being made. Secondly, raw connections contain vast
amounts of redundant data. The phone companies try to remove it by
limiting the range of frequencies, which is why phone conversations
sound so awful. Thirdly, the modern exchanges are digital, not
analogue, making a lot of the older practices which were genuinely
needed on the older analogue technology wasteful and plain stupid.

> He sez that he believes the logical outcome of this problem will be a
> system of charging for line use by the bit, rather than by the 64K channel.

Charging flat-rates is the current trend, which is a sensible approach,
IMHO. The phone companies would be better off trying to work out ways
of using their networks more efficiently. For a start, they could try
to have more than one signal being sent down one wire. It really isn't
that difficult. Necessary regulation is one thing, but I see no reason
for us to pay for /their/ lack of imagination.