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Article: Don't call 911 to test your new phone

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Anonymous
December 24, 2004 11:51:08 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Not that anyone who reads this newsgroup would do such a thing...

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/12...

"Our phones start exploding with hang-ups (on Christmas)," said CHP Sgt.
Wayne Ziese of the Golden Gate division, which patrols the nine-county
Bay Area and dispatches its cars and motorcycles from division
headquarters in Vallejo. "The operator says, 'You've reached the CHP,
and what is your emergency?' Then 'click.' Or they'll say, 'I'm just
testing out my cell phone. ' "

It's the kind of thing dispatchers are not happy about.

Measuring her words as evenly as she can, Diane Chupinski, a 13-year
veteran CHP dispatcher who now supervises other dispatchers in the
Vallejo center, offers this: "I can say it is not clear to me why people
think 911 needs to be tested. If you want to know if your phone works,
call your friend and say, 'Guess what I got for Christmas.' "

Chupinski adds, "Here is my wish for Christmas: People should program
their seven-digit local police emergency number into their cell phones."
(That number can normally be found in your phone book.)

--
Frank Harris in San Francisco with an A680
Anonymous
December 25, 2004 11:34:44 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Frank Harris" <frankbhX@XcompuserveX.com> wrote in message
news:cqhhcf$6fr$1@ngspool-d02.news.aol.com...
> It's the kind of thing dispatchers are not happy about.

They may not be, and I'd agree that it's unreasonable to ever simply hang up
on a 911 dispatcher, but testing for 911 service from a cell phone in
general strikes me as an entirely reasonable thing to do. Although doing so
on Christmas day or other days that can reasonably be expected to be 'busy'
isn't friendly either.

> Measuring her words as evenly as she can, Diane Chupinski, a 13-year
> veteran CHP dispatcher who now supervises other dispatchers in the Vallejo
> center, offers this: "I can say it is not clear to me why people think 911
> needs to be tested. If you want to know if your phone works, call your
> friend and say, 'Guess what I got for Christmas.' "

This shows her naievete. Cell phones handle 911 calls in different enough
ways from regular calls that, while being able to call your friend to say
'hello' is a very good indication of 911 being handled properly, it's not a
sure thing.

A couple? of years ago Consumer Reports had an article on cell phones
specifically focusing on how successful they were in their ability to reach
911 services under various conditions. For example, there were cases where
a phone _could_ have reached 911 by switching over to the old AMPS system
but didn't bother because the phone was set to PCS or some other digital
system only for regular calls and a digital carrier wasn't present. Knowing
how one's phone behaves in such situations is quite useful, and not
something routinely found in instruction manuals.

> Chupinski adds, "Here is my wish for Christmas: People should program
> their seven-digit local police emergency number into their cell phones."

Certainly not a bad idea, but the whole point of 911 is that it's a
universal number, and a large point of cell phones is their mobility which
means you may well not be in your local area when an emergency strikes.

In my opinion, the article sounds like some reporter went fishing for a
bunch of low quality 911 dispatchers who were more than happy to bitch about
some of the less-than-pleasant aspects of their jobs.

---Joel Kolstad
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 12:45:10 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
>
> <snip>

Bottom line... Are you suggesting that it's a good idea for
everyone to test "911?"

Notan
Related resources
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 1:11:55 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Notan" <notan@ddress.com> wrote in message
news:41CE41D6.D9F946A2@ddress.com...
> Joel Kolstad wrote:
>>
>> <snip>
>
> Bottom line... Are you suggesting that it's a good idea for
> everyone to test "911?"

I'm suggesting that anyone who is at all 'concerned' about their phone's
ability to contact 911 in an emergency should, at a reasonable time, test
it. Some people are just 'concerned' by their nature, and others have more
technical reasons to be -- such as the case where, e.g., you spend a lot of
time driving through analog-only coverage but keep the phone set to
'digital' roaming only.

I would be surprised if anyone a few levels higher up than a dispatcher
would go on record discouraging people from testing 911 (with a cell phone
or a landline) if they have any concern about their equipment's ability to
reliably connect -- but I'd expect they'd give guidelines such as good times
to call. I don't know which phone it is any more, but I've purchased phones
where they included such guidelines (particularly including the point about
not hanging up on 911 -- this typically results in at least in a callback,
and if that fails, a police dispatch to check out the 'problem...').

---Joel
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 11:18:15 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
>
> "Notan" <notan@ddress.com> wrote in message
> news:41CE41D6.D9F946A2@ddress.com...
> > Joel Kolstad wrote:
> >>
> >> <snip>
> >
> > Bottom line... Are you suggesting that it's a good idea for
> > everyone to test "911?"
>
> I'm suggesting that anyone who is at all 'concerned' about their phone's
> ability to contact 911 in an emergency should, at a reasonable time, test
> it. Some people are just 'concerned' by their nature, and others have more
> technical reasons to be -- such as the case where, e.g., you spend a lot of
> time driving through analog-only coverage but keep the phone set to
> 'digital' roaming only.
>
> I would be surprised if anyone a few levels higher up than a dispatcher
> would go on record discouraging people from testing 911 (with a cell phone
> or a landline) if they have any concern about their equipment's ability to
> reliably connect -- but I'd expect they'd give guidelines such as good times
> to call. I don't know which phone it is any more, but I've purchased phones
> where they included such guidelines (particularly including the point about
> not hanging up on 911 -- this typically results in at least in a callback,
> and if that fails, a police dispatch to check out the 'problem...').

While it's just an opinion, I can't believe that *anyone,* in the 911
system, would encourage *any* type of testing.

I'd like to see some type of "912" test number that people could call.
similar in all respects to 911... Rather than going to a live operator,
the call would go to a pre-recorded confirmation line.

Notan
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 1:54:34 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Tinman wrote:

>>I'm suggesting that anyone who is at all 'concerned' about their
>>phone's ability to contact 911 in an emergency should, at a
>>reasonable time, test it.
>
> Why stop there? Let's all test the fire alarms in public and private
> office buildings. I mean, we need to be sure they work, right? Oops, I
> forgot about private homes. We'll all need to call the local FDs to
> "test" their response time. Never can be too safe, right? Heck, while
> we're at it, let's test those EMS workers too.

If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise, you're
supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK. It's a pretty standard
thing to do when, for example, you're setting up a PBX in an office...

--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 2:14:57 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Frank Harris wrote:
> "Our phones start exploding with hang-ups (on Christmas)," said CHP Sgt.
> Wayne Ziese of the Golden Gate division, which patrols the nine-county
> Bay Area and dispatches its cars and motorcycles from division
> headquarters in Vallejo. "The operator says, 'You've reached the CHP,
> and what is your emergency?' Then 'click.' Or they'll say, 'I'm just
> testing out my cell phone. ' "

You know, I really hope the CHP gets E-911 Phase II rolling out soon.
It would be interesting to see what happens when some of these "test
calls" end up in a visit by the police to wherever the cell phone is
located to enforce those prank 911 call laws.

People who do this should automatically have their cell phones
confiscated. They've just proven they can't handle the responsibility.



--
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Transpose the c's and a's in my address to reply by e-mail.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 2:33:41 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:

> They may not be, and I'd agree that it's unreasonable to ever simply hang up
> on a 911 dispatcher, but testing for 911 service from a cell phone in
> general strikes me as an entirely reasonable thing to do.

Reasonable in what way? The FCC has mandated that it MUST work. It
isn't something that's individual to any one cell phone. Your "testing"
the service doesn't activate it; it's already there as a blanket mandate
that all cell phones capable of receiving a signal, whether activated or
not, MUST be able to call 911.

And "testing" it also doesn't ensure anything. Just because it worked
the moment you took the phone out of the box doesn't guarantee that the
same operation will work later, in a different area and possibly on a
different cell site or network.


>>Measuring her words as evenly as she can, Diane Chupinski, a 13-year
>>veteran CHP dispatcher who now supervises other dispatchers in the Vallejo
>>center, offers this: "I can say it is not clear to me why people think 911
>>needs to be tested. If you want to know if your phone works, call your
>>friend and say, 'Guess what I got for Christmas.' "
>
> This shows her naievete. Cell phones handle 911 calls in different enough
> ways from regular calls that, while being able to call your friend to say
> 'hello' is a very good indication of 911 being handled properly, it's not a
> sure thing.

I'm sorry, but I think you've just shown your own naivete here. How
does flooding a 911 call center with unnecessary calls educate anyone
about anything, except how to make a 911 dispatcher very irate? You
have no emergency to report, so it's not as if you're making the
dispatcher go through the entire process with you. In fact, you'll
learn a lot a less from calling 911 and hanging up or saying "just
testing" than if you use that same cell phone to call your local police
department's NON emrgency number and kindly ask "if I call 911 from my
cell phone, what can I expect?"

> Knowing
> how one's phone behaves in such situations is quite useful, and not
> something routinely found in instruction manuals.

I don't know about you, but my manual clearly states what my cell phone
will look for based on what roaming settings I have configured, and I
clearly know what to expect because I've read my manual. I don't have
to bother calling 911 to know that my chances of reaching a PSAP outside
when I'm outside of my coverage area are drastically reduced.


>>Chupinski adds, "Here is my wish for Christmas: People should program
>>their seven-digit local police emergency number into their cell phones."
>
> Certainly not a bad idea, but the whole point of 911 is that it's a
> universal number,

I'm sure that if you're in the middle of a true emergency and find that
you have to be put on hold when you dial 911, you'll realize how very
wrong you are. 911 is NOT a "universal" number. It's a number
specifically designed to be called only when you are absolutely certain
that a true, immediate emergency exists and that life or property (and
some states even omit "property") is directly threatened. It is not
meant as a test line, nor is it meant to be called to get the
dispatcher's opinion of whether something is an emergency.


> and a large point of cell phones is their mobility which
> means you may well not be in your local area when an emergency strikes.

You also misunderstand the current intent of cell phones. Ask any
wireless carrier whether they will guarantee that a cell phone let you
reach authorities in an emergency, and all of them will invariably say
that NO, it is a not guarantee. A cell phone is not a public utility.
It is still very much an item of convenience, and subject to service
availability, and it will be so for quite sometime.

People need to realize that while cell phones are useful tools in an
emergency when they work, they are absolutely not a guarantee of
emergency help. Somehow people managed to get along prior to the 1980s
when cellular networks were commonplace, and people need to realize that
this technology still isn't perfect and you might find yourself in a
situation where you will still need to cope however people did in the
pre-mobile era of society.


> In my opinion, the article sounds like some reporter went fishing for a
> bunch of low quality 911 dispatchers who were more than happy to bitch about
> some of the less-than-pleasant aspects of their jobs.

I sincerely hope sir, that you never find yourself in an emergency,
because I pity the "low quality" 911 dispatcher who will deal with the
likes of you.

--
E-mail address munged to thwart spammers.
Transpose the c's and a's in my address to reply by e-mail.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 2:51:00 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Notan wrote:

>
> While it's just an opinion, I can't believe that *anyone,* in the 911
> system, would encourage *any* type of testing.
>
> I'd like to see some type of "912" test number that people could call.
> similar in all respects to 911... Rather than going to a live operator,
> the call would go to a pre-recorded confirmation line.

You know, there really doesn't need to be even that. When you get down
to it, there is really nothing on the cell phone's end that is any
different in how the call is made to 911 than if you called Aunt Martha
to say hello. It must still find a signal; it must still be able to
interface with a wireless network using whatever protocols it is
compatible with; it must still be able to connect to the MTSO and pass
through call information. The rest of the call is routed by the PSTN
based on local and national 911 routing guidelines, just like a
landline. Yet I don't see this person advocating that we periodically
test our landlines to see if they can connect to 911 (and god help him
if he does advocate this).

I get this unfortunate impression that Mr. Kolstad thinks that an
obligation exists among public safety agencies to ensure that any
foolhardy individual can get help anytime, anywhere. While that would
be nice, this is not an ideal world, and even the Supreme Court is
recognized that while PSTN's, mobile carriers and public safety agenices
provide a valuable service by allowing you to get help when they are
able to provide it, they are *not obligated* to do so (according to
Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981): "a
government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public
services, such as police protection to any particular individual citizen.").

Again, it's unfortunate, but the emergency workers have finite
resources, and while it does run counter to what the average person
beleives, testing 911 only bogs down the service and makes it LESS
available when it is needed, rather than ensuring its availability.



--
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Transpose the c's and a's in my address to reply by e-mail.
December 26, 2004 3:28:27 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Steve Sobol wrote:
> Tinman wrote:
>
>>> I'm suggesting that anyone who is at all 'concerned' about their
>>> phone's ability to contact 911 in an emergency should, at a
>>> reasonable time, test it.
>>
>> Why stop there? Let's all test the fire alarms in public and private
>> office buildings. I mean, we need to be sure they work, right? Oops,
>> I forgot about private homes. We'll all need to call the local FDs to
>> "test" their response time. Never can be too safe, right? Heck, while
>> we're at it, let's test those EMS workers too.
>
> If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise,
> you're supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK.

Well apparently you *don't* know...
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 3:28:28 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Tinman wrote:

> Well apparently you *don't* know...

Wow, what an intelligent retort. Perhaps you should ask over in
comp.dcom.telecom if what I'm saying is correct. I could be mistaken.


--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
December 26, 2004 3:57:47 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Steve Sobol wrote:
> Tinman wrote:
>
>> Well apparently you *don't* know...
>
> Wow, what an intelligent retort. Perhaps you should ask over in
> comp.dcom.telecom if what I'm saying is correct. I could be mistaken.

I don't need to ask. Call your local PD (NOT via 911) and ask them what
they think about citizens test-calling 911. (You know, the very subject
this thread is about.)

Do try and keep up.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 3:57:48 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Tinman wrote:

> I don't need to ask. Call your local PD (NOT via 911) and ask them what
> they think about citizens test-calling 911. (You know, the very subject
> this thread is about.)

*shrug* Fine, will do that when I have time in the next couple days.

> Do try and keep up.

Sorry, you have to use words with three or fewer letters in order for me to
keep up. "Keep" is four letters long. ;) 


--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 11:22:18 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <y5WdnXs5zMJGo1PcRVn-sg@comcast.com>, Joel Kolstad
<JKolstad71HatesSpam@Yahoo.Com> wrote:

> A couple? of years ago Consumer Reports had an article on cell phones
> specifically focusing on how successful they were in their ability to
> reach 911 services under various conditions. For example, [...].
> Knowing how one's phone behaves in such situations is quite useful,
> and not something routinely found in instruction manuals.

In order for this test to be of any use, you would have to conduct many
tests under a variety of different conditions, in a variety of
different places (to sample various combinations of signal strength
from different providers). It would be easier to compile a directory of
all the police emergency numbers in communities you frequent.

The bottom line: no, testing 911 from your cellphone is not a
reasonable thing to do. The fact that the phone works or doesn't work
in your test will have very little relation to whether it works or
doesn't work in a real emergency.

The manufacturers and cellular companies should certainly conduct tests
under controlled circumstances to ensure that the phones will behave in
the best possible manner, including such things as automatically
overriding the user's roaming settings to grab the best signal from any
available carrier. (That includes figuring out the specific operational
definition of "best signal.") But testing by the end users -- either
haphazardly or methodically -- is not a good idea.

--
Linc Madison * San Francisco, California * lincmad@suespammers.org
<http://www.LincMad.com&gt; * primary e-mail: Telecom at LincMad dot com
All U.S. and California anti-spam laws apply, incl. CA BPC 17538.45(c)
This text constitutes actual notice as required in BPC 17538.45(f)(3).
DO NOT SEND UNSOLICITED E-MAIL TO THIS ADDRESS. You have been warned.
Anonymous
December 26, 2004 11:36:45 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message news:gsBzd.4184$nB.1457@fe35.usenetserver.com...
>
> People who do this should automatically have their cell phones
> confiscated. They've just proven they can't handle the responsibility.

Let's just make it a mandatory $100 fine for calling 911 without
an emergency. People who still want to test can do so and pay
the price.

--
John Richards
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 2:24:49 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <338hjfF3ub1ebU1@individual.net>, Tinman
<mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote:

> Steve Sobol wrote:
> > If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise,
> > you're supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK.
>
> Well apparently you *don't* know...

Actually, Steve Sobol *DOES* know, and you left out the part of his
quote that demonstrates that quite clearly:

> > If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise,
> > you're supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK. It's a
> > pretty standard thing to do when, for example, you're setting up a
> > PBX in an office...

It *IS* sometimes necessary and proper to make a test call to 911 when
you are setting up a PBX. Of course, you must contact the authorities
beforehand to determine the proper protocol and procedure.

What makes the PBX special is that the PBX may be able to pass
additional information to the 911 center beyond the default information
for the trunk line. For example, the PBX may be able to pass the
building and room number, rather than simply "somewhere at XYZ Corp's
362-acre headquarters complex."

Ordinary individuals should never make test calls to 911. However,
under certain circumstances, telephone installers may need to.

--
Linc Madison * San Francisco, California * lincmad@suespammers.org
All U.S. and California anti-spam laws apply, incl. CA BPC 17538.45(c)
This text constitutes actual notice as required in BPC 17538.45(f)(3).
DO NOT SEND UNSOLICITED E-MAIL TO THIS ADDRESS. You have been warned.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 2:24:55 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <5_Bzd.5630$1p2.5379@fe32.usenetserver.com>, Isaiah Beard
<sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote:

> Notan wrote:
>
> > While it's just an opinion, I can't believe that *anyone,* in the
> > 911 system, would encourage *any* type of testing.
> >
> > I'd like to see some type of "912" test number that people could
> > call. similar in all respects to 911... Rather than going to a live
> > operator, the call would go to a pre-recorded confirmation line.
>
> You know, there really doesn't need to be even that. When you get
> down to it, there is really nothing on the cell phone's end that is
> any different in how the call is made to 911 than if you called Aunt
> Martha to say hello. It must still find a signal; it must still be
> able to interface with a wireless network using whatever protocols it
> is compatible with; it must still be able to connect to the MTSO and
> pass through call information. The rest of the call is routed by the
> PSTN based on local and national 911 routing guidelines, just like a
> landline.

This is not at all true. From the cellphone's end, dialing 911 is
*VERY* different from calling Aunt Martha to say hello.

When you use your cellphone to dial 911, several things happen
differently. The phone should automatically override your preference
against roaming and even disregard the question of whether your
provider has billing arrangements with the provider whose network you
are using. The phone must disregard any lockout or security code that
you may have to enter to make ordinary calls. Furthermore, the
cellphone will not allow you to hang up on 911 quite as easily as on an
ordinary call. On my phone, I have to press some combination of extra
keys to disconnect from 911.

Furthermore, the routing of the 911 call once it enters the PSTN is
also quite different from the routing of a landline 911 call. In many
states, cellular 911 calls are routed to the highway patrol dispatch,
since a large proportion of cellular 911 calls are from freeways. I
don't know of any place that routes landline 911 to the highway patrol.

However, I still agree that testing 911 on your cellphone is a bad
idea. I know how my phone works from calling 911 to report a bona fide
emergency. (I also know how my phone works when I dial 415-553-0123 to
report a non-emergency situation to the San Francisco Police.)

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that my phone wasn't properly set
up for analog roaming one night on an isolated rural road when I was
trying to call AAA. Thus, if you're concerned about the possibility of
being unable to call 911 when you're in an area without Sprint PCS
signal, you might try calling Aunt Martha from a rural area. Paying the
cost of a minute or two of roaming is better than burdening the 911
system with a non-emergency call.

--
Linc Madison * San Francisco, California * lincmad@suespammers.org
All U.S. and California anti-spam laws apply, incl. CA BPC 17538.45(c)
This text constitutes actual notice as required in BPC 17538.45(f)(3).
DO NOT SEND UNSOLICITED E-MAIL TO THIS ADDRESS. You have been warned.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 2:27:45 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Linc Madison wrote:

> Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that my phone wasn't properly set
> up for analog roaming one night on an isolated rural road when I was
> trying to call AAA. Thus, if you're concerned about the possibility of
> being unable to call 911 when you're in an area without Sprint PCS
> signal, you might try calling Aunt Martha from a rural area. Paying the
> cost of a minute or two of roaming is better than burdening the 911
> system with a non-emergency call.

What's your opinion about making test calls from a landline?

Just wondering,

S



--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 12:33:10 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <cqod9s$s3l$2@ratbert.glorb.com>,
Steve Sobol <sjsobol@JustThe.net> wrote:

> What's your opinion about making test calls from a landline?

As an EMS dispatcher myself (though working for a private company that
does 911-contract work, but not actually working at the 911 center
itself), you should coordinate with the 911 center, preferably by
calling their non-emergency line, talking to someone in a position of
authority, and explaining your request.

As an example, my home burglar alarm is connected directly to the police
department (as opposed to going through a monitoring company). A few
days ago, I was doing some re-wiring to ensure that the burglar alarm
was compatible with the DSL service that now shares the same line. I
called the non-emergency number, informed them that I was going to be
doing some wiring, and that the alarm may be sounded several times and
that no police response was necessary.

After doing the wiring, I called the police again, had them take me off
the "test" monitoring they were doing, informed them that I was going to
be testing the alarm one more time (this time in "production" mode) and
verified that the appropriate alarm signal and information was properly
transmitted.

Usually the emergency services are willing to accommodate reasonable
requests made by citizens so long as they do not interfere with
emergency calls. Call the non-emergency number at an off-peak time, ask
politely, explain precisely why you want to test and how you're going to
do it, and they may well agree to help.

Calling them every day to arrange a daily test, or doing "Can you hear
me now? Good!" tests from all over the region by cellphone will likely
cause them to be disgruntled. Dealing with emergency services at major
cities (i.e. San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.) is
likely to result in frustration, while small and medium-sized cities may
be much more helpful. <insert common sense here>

<insert obligatory disclaimer about me representing only myself, not any
company or organization. Your mileage may vary. Ad nauseum.>

--
Pete Stephenson
HeyPete.com
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 12:54:47 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
news:5_Bzd.5630$1p2.5379@fe32.usenetserver.com...
> You know, there really doesn't need to be even that. When you get down to
> it, there is really nothing on the cell phone's end that is any different
> in how the call is made to 911 than if you called Aunt Martha to say
> hello.

Please re-read my post. Although you're of course correct that much of the
way a cell phone connects to 911 is 100% identical to a call to Aunt Martha,
it is _not_ identical and (as I gave an example for) the differences are
enough that I don't think it's unreasonable to want to 'check' the system.

> Yet I don't see this person advocating that we periodically test our
> landlines to see if they can connect to 911 (and god help him if he does
> advocate this).

I wasn't suggesting 'periodically.' I think 'once per new phone' line is
probably fine.

I'm willing to bet you that there are many parts of the day during which
local 911 dispatchers are not actively handling calls. Although I'd imagine
they have plenty of other responsibilities as well, testing 911 during these
slow periods is not likely to create problems.

> I get this unfortunate impression that Mr. Kolstad thinks that an
> obligation exists among public safety agencies to ensure that any
> foolhardy individual can get help anytime, anywhere.

Not at all. But I don't see how you come up with that belief based on my
suggestion that it's reasonable to test out a new cell phone's 911 behavior?

> While that would be nice, this is not an ideal world, and even the
> Supreme Court is recognized that while PSTN's, mobile carriers and public
> safety agenices provide a valuable service by allowing you to get help
> when they are able to provide it, they are *not obligated* to do so
> (according to Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap.,
> 1981)

Keep in mind that our taxes and service fees PAY for those 911 dispatchers
and other safety agencies.

> Again, it's unfortunate, but the emergency workers have finite resources,
> and while it does run counter to what the average person beleives, testing
> 911 only bogs down the service and makes it LESS available when it is
> needed, rather than ensuring its availability.

At the end of the day, it comes down to costs. If for every 100 'real' 911
calls there's 1 test call, instead of 100 dispatchers you now need 101... so
the cost of running 911 goes up 1%. Of course, I don't know the real
numbers, and as previously mentioned, I'd suggest that since there have to
be more 911 dispatchers employed than are statistically expected to ever be
needed (to handle the rare situation where a lot of emergencies DO pile up
together), by being cognizant of proper '911 test etiquette' and knowing
good times for test calls we can kill two birds with one stone.

I like the other poster's idea of having a '912' number for tests. This
would require changes to cell phones such that '912' calls were treated
identically to 911, but I think it'd be worthwhile. He's really nailed
where the problem in the system is -- at present, the only way to test 911
is to use the Real Thing, which is an expensive enough resource that
alternative testing methods would be useful.

---Joel
December 27, 2004 1:22:23 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Linc Madison wrote:
> In article <338hjfF3ub1ebU1@individual.net>, Tinman
> <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote:
>
>> Steve Sobol wrote:
>>> If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise,
>>> you're supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK.
>>
>> Well apparently you *don't* know...
>
> Actually, Steve Sobol *DOES* know, and you left out the part of his
> quote that demonstrates that quite clearly:
>

I knew exactly what Steve was alluding to; I simply did not find it
germane to the, albeit sarcastic, point I was making.

This thread started... well read the subject to figure that out. Joel
Kolstad suggested it (test-calling 911) was a "reasonable" thing to do.
Notan asked, presumably sarcastically, if Kolstad was claiming it was a
good idea that everyone test 911. Kolstad then replied that anyone
"concerned" about their phone's ability to contact 911, should do so (at
a reasonable time)--even from landlines.

Most any citizen would say yes if asked if they are "at all concerned"
about their phone reaching 911. So if you are advocating test-calling
911 to any concerned citizen, there needs to be a 911 system in place
that is capable of handling many times the number of calls they receive
now. But the reality is that emergency systems--not just PSAP--are
tested professionally all the time.

And of course we don't, and likely never will, have the kind of PSAP
capacity to allow all citizens to test-call. Ergo, advocating 911
test-calling to any "concerned" citizen, particularly from a mobile
phone where a test is almost meaningless, is IMO absurd (unless you
believe that certain citizens are somehow more entitled to PSAP services
than everyone else). If you are going to throw out an idea, at least
consider it through to its logical conclusion--and this is what I
replied to originally.

For the record, I have coordinated the testing of 911 from PBX systems
myself--each and every station. But I did not place a sticker on each
station for the end users stating,"Please test 911 between 9AM and 11AM,
and don't hang up on the operator." This is no different than the
testing cellular carriers perform, at the point their systems interact
with the PSTN. Accordingly, mobile handsets don't come with stickers
asking users to test 911.

And to return to my original sardonic query, "why stop there?" Many
people would answer yes if asked if they are "concerned" about
police/fire/EMS response times. Why not advocate having the public test
them too? Seems to me to be just as important as reaching a 911
operator. And just as absurd to test by the general public.

This is Usenet, so any tangent that can possibly be taken, generally
is...
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 1:54:09 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Tinman,

"Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
news:33aujrF3v2f8kU1@individual.net...
> And of course we don't, and likely never will, have the kind of PSAP
> capacity to allow all citizens to test-call. Ergo, advocating 911
> test-calling to any "concerned" citizen, particularly from a mobile phone
> where a test is almost meaningless, is IMO absurd

Do you really thing there are more 'concerned' citizens out there who'd want
to test-call 911 than the number of people who call 911 for not truly
life/property threatening sitations anyway? I expect that many 911 calls
are situations along the lines of, 'my cat is stuck in the tree!,' 'I locked
my car with the keys inside!,' etc.

I'm not advocating that if there are already lots of improper calls to 911
that test-calling is just another form that should be accepted, rather that
911 already has had to be built up to handle far more calls than are srictly
necessary for true emergencies, and that test calls to 911 would be a drop
in the back compared to the overall capacity of 911.

> (unless you believe that certain citizens are somehow more entitled to
> PSAP services than everyone else).

Absolutely not...

> For the record, I have coordinated the testing of 911 from PBX systems
> myself--each and every station. But I did not place a sticker on each
> station for the end users stating,"Please test 911 between 9AM and 11AM,
> and don't hang up on the operator."

So you should be allowed to test each and ever office phone as part of a PBX
system that dials 911 because you're a professional phone installer, yet the
owner/operators of cell phones shouldn't because they couldn't possibly do
it the way they're supposed to, huh? Sure sounds like you're the once
claiming that some people are more 'entitled' than others...

> And to return to my original sardonic query, "why stop there?" Many people
> would answer yes if asked if they are "concerned" about police/fire/EMS
> response times. Why not advocate having the public test them too?

The difference is in cost. A test call to 911 should be somewhere in the
'under a dollar' ballpark to test; not enough to make it worthwhile to bill.
If people want to test the police/fire/EMS -- and are willing to pay for the
test -- it's a little absurd but I suppose I'm all for that too if you call
them up and tell them, "Hey, I'm willing to pay for a practice drill of your
firemen, so long as you pretend it's my house that's burning down. When
would be a good time to arrange this drill?" I'd expect THOSE tests would
run more in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, however, so unless you're
wealthy you'll just have to take your chances.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 2:02:14 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Linc,

"Linc Madison" <lincmad@suespammers.org> wrote in message
news:261220042022186248%lincmad@suespammers.org...
> The manufacturers and cellular companies should certainly conduct tests
> under controlled circumstances to ensure that the phones will behave in
> the best possible manner, including such things as automatically
> overriding the user's roaming settings to grab the best signal from any
> available carrier. (That includes figuring out the specific operational
> definition of "best signal.") But testing by the end users -- either
> haphazardly or methodically -- is not a good idea.

Do you think, then, that it was wrong of Consumer Reports to perform their
tests? (Which I'm sure were done with the coordination of the emergency
agencies involved.) If so, I'd say you're then on a slippery slope of
trying to define just who 'should' or 'shouldn't' perform such tests.

Especially when you consider that CR found out that the phones they testsed
did _not_ behave in the 'best possible manner,' it certainly suggests to me
that having SOME outside party (other than the manufacturers and cell phone
companies) perform such tests is worthwhile.

I agree there's plenty of potential for problems if every Aunt Martha out
there were to start placing calls to 911, but my expectation is that _in
general_ very few people are going to bother making such calls anyway. I
expect the problem the original article referred to (people calling 911 from
new cell phones they received for Xmas and then hanging up) eminates from
the fact that many times cell phones are given as gifts specifically as
'safety' devices for the recipient. Given that reality, perhaps it would be
better overall if the cell phone manufacturers did spend a few paragraphs or
two in the 'quick start' manuals discussing what the proper way to test
would be.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 3:13:21 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:

> Look, 911 dispatching is a job like anything else. In my opinion, it's also
> a job that the average individual can perform,

While it doesn't take Superman to do the job, the job carries a huge
responsibility, and probably a lot of stress. And I don't know if the shifts
are twelve-hour shifts like the ones worked by my friend the police dispatcher,
but I suspect that they may be.

> risking their lives at times for their jobs. Hence, I don't give 911
> dispatchers any special 'pass' on getting to complain about what are
> predictable downsides of their jobs.

I believe the argument here is "don't give the 911 operators additional
workload that they don't need". Who's saying the people working these jobs
didn't already know what they were getting into when they took the jobs? Not
me. Not anyone else that I can see in this thread.

> newspaper in what would appear to be an attempt to 'scold' all those bad 911
> test-dialers out there.

In some cases tests might be appropriate; if everyone tested out their brand
new phone by calling 911, it wouldn't scale very well, now would it?

--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 4:03:17 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <cqod9s$s3l$2@ratbert.glorb.com>, Steve Sobol
<sjsobol@JustThe.net> wrote:

> Linc Madison wrote:
>
> > Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that my phone wasn't properly
> > set up for analog roaming one night on an isolated rural road when
> > I was trying to call AAA. Thus, if you're concerned about the
> > possibility of being unable to call 911 when you're in an area
> > without Sprint PCS signal, you might try calling Aunt Martha from a
> > rural area. Paying the cost of a minute or two of roaming is better
> > than burdening the 911 system with a non-emergency call.
>
> What's your opinion about making test calls from a landline?
>
> Just wondering,

In any ordinary circumstance with a single-line POTS service, it's a
bad idea. Setting up a PBX is about the only case I can think of where
test calls to 911 are justified. There might be a few other specific
exceptions, but the general rule stands: call 911 only for a real
emergency.

--
Linc Madison * San Francisco, California * lincmad@suespammers.org
All U.S. and California anti-spam laws apply, incl. CA BPC 17538.45(c)
This text constitutes actual notice as required in BPC 17538.45(f)(3).
DO NOT SEND UNSOLICITED E-MAIL TO THIS ADDRESS. You have been warned.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 5:22:58 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Steve Sobol wrote:

>> Why stop there? Let's all test the fire alarms in public and private
>> office buildings. I mean, we need to be sure they work, right? Oops, I
>> forgot about private homes. We'll all need to call the local FDs to
>> "test" their response time. Never can be too safe, right? Heck, while
>> we're at it, let's test those EMS workers too.

> If you're planning on testing 911, from a landline or otherwise, you're
> supposed to call beforehand and let them know, AFAIK. It's a pretty
> standard thing to do when, for example, you're setting up a PBX in an
> office...

Test a PBX's emergency call routing is an apples to oranges comparison
though. A PBX is a test of a private phone system that interconnects
with but isn't officially *PART* of the PSTN (though you could argue
that Centrex is more fully integrated). In such rigs, a one-time test
by the party(ies) responsible for maintaining that PBX to ensure things
work is reasonable.

The cell phone, however, is a device that connects with a switch whose
emergency call routing can reasonably be assumed to have been tested FOR
you by the carrier responsible for providing you with service. If it
can make and receive non emergency calls, then really the parts that you
can and should test have already been tested. Chances are, it hasn't
been a terribly long time since the last person called 911 from that
MTSO, meaning it's unlikely an issue with 911 call routing has gone
unreported.


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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 5:25:27 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

John Richards wrote:
> "Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
> news:gsBzd.4184$nB.1457@fe35.usenetserver.com...
>> People who do this should automatically have their cell phones
>> confiscated. They've just proven they can't handle the responsibility.
>
>
> Let's just make it a mandatory $100 fine for calling 911 without an
> emergency. People who still want to test can do so and pay the price.

I would accept such a proposal, with an amedment: let the "tester" pay
the actual, accountant-certified itemized cost for such a response.
Generally PSAPs report that false 911 calls cost taxpayers a lot more
than $100 per occurrence. So, let the fine be whatever direct costs can
be proven.



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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 5:51:04 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> "Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
> news:5_Bzd.5630$1p2.5379@fe32.usenetserver.com...

>>You know, there really doesn't need to be even that. When you get down to
>>it, there is really nothing on the cell phone's end that is any different
>>in how the call is made to 911 than if you called Aunt Martha to say
>>hello.
>
>
> Please re-read my post.

If I responded to your post, then you can assume that I read it. Just
because someone disagrees with you, it does not make them illiterate,
and implying so only bolsters the idea that you cannot sufficiently
defend your position.

> Although you're of course correct that much of the
> way a cell phone connects to 911 is 100% identical to a call to Aunt Martha,
> it is _not_ identical and (as I gave an example for) the differences are
> enough that I don't think it's unreasonable to want to 'check' the system.

The system is "checked" many, many times a day in real life emergencies.
There is nothing inherent to one person's particular cell phone that
will permit them to uncover a problem with the PSAP that has not already
been discovered through legitimate requests for assistance, and
fulfillment of those requests. Thus, it IS unreasonable to "check" the
system. Such "checks" are unwarranted and make the system less
available to those who need it.

>
>>Yet I don't see this person advocating that we periodically test our
>>landlines to see if they can connect to 911 (and god help him if he does
>>advocate this).
>
> I wasn't suggesting 'periodically.' I think 'once per new phone' line is
> probably fine.

Which brings me to my other point, which you so cleanly glossed over: a
single test of a cell phone when new does not guarantee that the same
cell phone will work later. It ony guarantees that had you been in an
emergency at that place at that time, help might have gotten to you. It
does not assure the same performance in different situations, perhaps on
a different cell site on a different channel, during a different time
frame. Again, the "test" you propose is useless and unreasonable.


> I'm willing to bet you that there are many parts of the day during which
> local 911 dispatchers are not actively handling calls.

And as someone with PSAP experience, I can tell you that you are wrong. :) 


>>I get this unfortunate impression that Mr. Kolstad thinks that an
>>obligation exists among public safety agencies to ensure that any
>>foolhardy individual can get help anytime, anywhere.
>
>
> Not at all. But I don't see how you come up with that belief based on my
> suggestion that it's reasonable to test out a new cell phone's 911 behavior?

Your seemingly paranoid desire to test new cell phones by calling 911
seems to indicate that you expect your cell phone to provide you with
help when you need it, on command, when neither the cell phone nor the
emergency services it may or may not connect to can guarantee such a
thing 100% of the time.

That, or you are just extremely ignorant about how cell phones operate.


>
>> While that would be nice, this is not an ideal world, and even the
>>Supreme Court is recognized that while PSTN's, mobile carriers and public
>>safety agenices provide a valuable service by allowing you to get help
>>when they are able to provide it, they are *not obligated* to do so
>>(according to Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. Ct. of Ap.,
>>1981)
>
>
> Keep in mind that our taxes and service fees PAY for those 911 dispatchers
> and other safety agencies.

So you DO admit that as a taxpayer, you expect a guarantee of help?
Then why did you deny it just one paragraph ago?

But that's neither here nor there. As case law demonstrates, just
because you may or may not pay your taxes does not mean that you are
guaranteed round the clock protection. Emergency services are human,
and they are also often underfunded, because people don't LIKE paying
taxes, and certainly it's proven they don't like to pay more of those
dreaded for the promise of more services.

But I digress.

>>Again, it's unfortunate, but the emergency workers have finite resources,
>>and while it does run counter to what the average person beleives, testing
>>911 only bogs down the service and makes it LESS available when it is
>>needed, rather than ensuring its availability.
>
>
> At the end of the day, it comes down to costs. If for every 100 'real' 911
> calls there's 1 test call,

Already your math is unreasonable. How many cell phone users are in the
US? On Sprint alone there are more than 20 million, and on a typical
quarter, they add around 400,000 new customers. By your philosphy, they
should all test their phones at least once. So, for Sprint customers
alone, that amounts to 4,444 and change in false emergency calls per day
in the US, JUST from Sprint customers, and JSUT new customers... not
accounting for existing customers who havd upgraded or exchanged their
phones. Other carriers have economies of scale that are higher, and
some that are lower, but they all add significantly to the numbers. And
I'm willing to bet that the numbers would add up to more than just 1
call out of 100.


> I like the other poster's idea of having a '912' number for tests. This
> would require changes to cell phones such that '912' calls were treated
> identically to 911,

....which means you've just eliminated any advantage to a "912" number,
because now you are requiring the same facility and the same people to
handle those calls. People may as well just call 911.

Besides, I'm sure that NANPA would take issue with the assignment of 912
as a test number, as the reservation of such a number would reduce North
America's already dwindling supply of available NXX-xxxx addresses by a
few million.


> but I think it'd be worthwhile. He's really nailed
> where the problem in the system is -- at present, the only way to test 911
> is to use the Real Thing, which is an expensive enough resource that
> alternative testing methods would be useful.

Well, once again you've contradicted yourself. Earlier you were arguing
that the costs of such tests were insignificant. Now you're championing
a test number to ease the burden of such costs? Which is it then?


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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 5:51:05 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Hi Isaiah,

"Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
news:XIZzd.929$WN4.852@fe36.usenetserver.com...
> The system is "checked" many, many times a day in real life emergencies.
> There is nothing inherent to one person's particular cell phone that will
> permit them to uncover a problem with the PSAP that has not already been
> discovered through legitimate requests for assistance, and fulfillment of
> those requests.

The problems are more with the cell phones than the PSAPs.

I'd be a lot more sympathetic to you and others who are saying it's a bad
idea to test 911 connectivity to a new cell phone if the Consumer Reports
article found that there WEREN'T problems with the connections going
through. As it is now, you seem to be arguing that while clearly 911
usually works as designed, the fact that there are cases were this isn't the
case should be assumed to be a fluke or irrelevent occurence not worthy of
continuing tests.

This reminds me of the case of the... space probe? missile? -- I forget
which -- that once, during a ground test, had some bizarre inexplicable
computer crash that was dismissed since it couldn't be reproduced and then
had to be destroyed after launch when the same bug struck again.

> Thus, it IS unreasonable to "check" the system. Such "checks" are
> unwarranted and make the system less available to those who need it.

At some level, sure, any 'test' makes the system unavailable, but on the
other hand, if the test is coordinated with the PSAP to occur during their
slow times, it should have a negligible impact of the system's performance.
I mean, the population in this country keeps growing anyway, and the 911
system certainly will grow to handle those new people, so you can't argue
that it's impossible to handle a small increase in system utilization
because Aunt Martha wants to test her one new cell phone the same day some
PXB installer is also testing 274 office phones.

> Which brings me to my other point, which you so cleanly glossed over: a
> single test of a cell phone when new does not guarantee that the same cell
> phone will work later. It ony guarantees that had you been in an
> emergency at that place at that time, help might have gotten to you.

Right, as I've said before, I'm suggesting people hedge there bets. At some
point it becomes absurd and not worth the expense/hassle to test for every
conceivable failure (and historically safety failures occur more often due
to internal political communication problems rather than a lack of testing
anywa). It's the law of diminishing returns... 1 call working makes people
99% confident everything's kosher, 10 calls is 99.9%, 100 calls is 99.99%...
it just isn't worth it.

> It does not assure the same performance in different situations, perhaps
> on a different cell site on a different channel, during a different time
> frame. Again, the "test" you propose is useless and unreasonable.

You're still ignoring that the main idea is to test THE PHONE and not the
cell sites, PSAPs, etc. There are fewer variables in testing it than
everything else.

>> I'm willing to bet you that there are many parts of the day during which
>> local 911 dispatchers are not actively handling calls.
>
> And as someone with PSAP experience, I can tell you that you are wrong. :) 

So you're saying there's often a hold time on 911 calls then? I don't see
how this could otherwise be the case.

> Your seemingly paranoid desire to test new cell phones by calling 911
> seems to indicate that you expect your cell phone to provide you with help
> when you need it, on command, when neither the cell phone nor the
> emergency services it may or may not connect to can guarantee such a thing
> 100% of the time.

That's quite an extrapolation! Would you suggest that by testing the
batteries in a smoke detector in an upstairs corner bedroom I'd expect it to
detect a fire in a basement bedroom? Not me.

> So you DO admit that as a taxpayer, you expect a guarantee of help?

Not a guarantee, a 'best effort' as money and resources allow. There are no
guarantees at all in life, for crying out loud... all the money in the world
can't guarantee anything.

Personally, I'm generally an advocate of far smaller government than we have
now. But on the other hand, if others vote to impose tax-payer funded
programs, you can bet I'll attempt to use them in the way they were designed
if they'll benefit me.

> Emergency services are human, and they are also often underfunded, because
> people don't LIKE paying taxes, and certainly it's proven they don't like
> to pay more of those dreaded for the promise of more services.

The problem is that there are so many government services now, it's easy for
anyone to point to an expensive taxpayer funded program that they can't
benefit from and feel pissed and therefore not want to approve new funding.
But keep in mind, over the long term taxes have been monotonically
increasing in this country for centuries, and it's not abot to stop.

One can argue endlessly over the funding level such government programs as
the military, public education, welfare, emergency services, etc... but it's
only a very small number of people (under 5%, I'd say) who outright don't
think there should be ANY funding for the military, public schools, etc.

If we lived in Ayn Rand's world it'd probably be Sprint providing emergency
services and you could take'em or leave'em as you wished and Claire would
respond to test calls. :-)

> Already your math is unreasonable. How many cell phone users are in the
> US? On Sprint alone there are more than 20 million, and on a typical
> quarter, they add around 400,000 new customers. By your philosphy, they
> should all test their phones at least once.

Nah, only if they're 'concerned' about its reliabiliy. I'd guesstimate that
to be ~0.25% of all new customers... so that takes your 400,000 new calls
down to 1000 per quarter or ~11 per day.

But regardless of the numbers, you still haven't answered why you think any
increase in the number of 911 calls received can't be handled with
additional funding? I think it's a safe bet that if you can honestly say
yor local PSAP is going to have to start implementing hold times for
life-threatening emergencies, you'll get some extra funding ASAP.

> ...which means you've just eliminated any advantage to a "912" number,
> because now you are requiring the same facility and the same people to
> handle those calls.

Same facility, but answered by a computer. I trust that if a call can get
as far as being routing into a PSAP, they'll do appropriate TESTING :-)
internally to make sure 911 goes to humans and 912 goes to computers.

> Besides, I'm sure that NANPA would take issue with the assignment of 912
> as a test number, as the reservation of such a number would reduce North
> America's already dwindling supply of available NXX-xxxx addresses by a
> few million.

See the thread about the idea for, when you call 911, getting the computer
that says, "Press 1 if this is a test calls, otherwise remain on the line
for the next operator..." -- with a 3 second delay.

>> but I think it'd be worthwhile. He's really nailed where the problem in
>> the system is -- at present, the only way to test 911 is to use the Real
>> Thing, which is an expensive enough resource that alternative testing
>> methods would be useful.
>
> Well, once again you've contradicted yourself. Earlier you were arguing
> that the costs of such tests were insignificant. Now you're championing a
> test number to ease the burden of such costs? Which is it then?

The costs are insignificant from the point of view of having to hire
additional dispatchers to handle the increased call volume (e.g., if you
have 100 dispatchers and now you need 101). On the other hand, the cost of
1 additional dispatcher is an 'expensive enough resource' that if we can get
a machine to do it, by all means we should. Tax payers are very happy to
see government agencies say something like, "Well, we needed the ability to
handle an increased call volume, but rather than just doing 'more of the
same' and hiring more dispatchers at $100,000k/year, we worked a little
smarter and found a computer that could so some of the more menial parts of
the job for a one-time only price of $25k."

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 6:14:09 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> "Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
> news:TJBzd.1271$xw4.1227@fe81.usenetserver.com...
>
>>Reasonable in what way? The FCC has mandated that it MUST work.
>
>
> FCC mandates and reality are two different things.

I would expect as much from someone who seems to want to trust his cell
phone in an emergency and yet is distrusting enough to want to test it. :) 


> Look at the Consumer
> Reports article -- there are cell phones out there that DO NOT 'work' even
> though the COULD with somewhat better programming.

And how could a 911 test uncover this when a normal call could not? The
problem associated with failed 911 calls relates to coverage issues. If
your phone says "NO service" then guess what? Call won't go through!
There is no magic to 911 that makes a new cell tower sprout from the
ground to miraculously give you coverage when you dial it. If a regular
call cannot go through, then 911 can be expected not to work, either.

>>And "testing" it also doesn't ensure anything. Just because it worked the
>>moment you took the phone out of the box doesn't guarantee that the same
>>operation will work later, in a different area and possibly on a different
>>cell site or network.
>
>
> True, but the idea of testing is to see how the cell phone behaves in an
> area you might expect to spend a lot of time traveling through, i.e., you're
> hedging your bets.

And doing this would require more than one test. So now we've gone from
one test when you first get your phone, to a number of test in sporadic
areas where you normally travel. Where does it stop?

> I agree it's completely improper to call up 911 every
> day to perform the 'test.'

Then any test is ineffective. Bottom line: don't do it. Instead, call
your local non emergency number and ask them any questions you may have
about how the 911 system operates until you're content.

>>I'm sorry, but I think you've just shown your own naivete here. How does
>>flooding a 911 call center with unnecessary calls educate anyone about
>>anything, except how to make a 911 dispatcher very irate?
>
>
> The article didn't claim the call center was 'flooded' (in the sense of...
> they were getting so many test calls they were having difficulty processing
> the real ones).

The headline of the article was rather clear: "Testing Cell Phones Ties
up 911." Seems pretty clear to me.


> I would be irate too if I were getting a bunch of hang-up
> calls, but the point I'm trying to address is whether or not making test
> calls to 911 in the first place is defensible.

And it is not. Plain and simple. There are other ways to test your
cell phone.

> Although it's perhaps comparing apples and oranges, you do realize that
> pretty much every radio-based emergency communications service out there
> holds regular test drills to make sure that (1) the people involved are
> prepared for the real thing and (2) the equipment is all working properly?


Actually, yes! But there's a huge difference. The system test, which
is standard procedure for most public service agencies using an
integrated communication system, is performed on a rigid, set schedule,
and made by ONE and ONLY one person who is officially designated to
conduct that test. Further, this test is automatically postponed when
an emergency condition requires that non emergency traffic be cleared
from the communication system in question.

The individual users of the system DO NOT test their own equipment at
random intervals, nor do they just call and "hang up" when dispatch
responds. Individual equipment failures are very frequently caught
during normal, non-emergency, routine communications traffic, and then
remedial steps are taken promptly to correct the situation. Why?
Because there is NO inherent difference from the standpoint of the end
user between how the equipment will behave in an emergency versus a non
emergency.

Sound familiar? There's plenty of routine, non emergency traffic on a
cell network. From the end user's standpoint, equipment that will work
on a normal call will ALSO likely work when they dial 911. If it does
NOT work during a normal call, then calling 911 will not magically make
the phone work again. And performance tests are ALSO being performed by
the cell carrier's designated staff to ensure that things ARE working.
A designated staff member is testing FOR you, so that you do not have to.


> I'm truly amazed at how much anti-911-test sentiment there is out there.

Maybe that should tell you something about how unreasonable your
position is.


>>I don't know about you, but my manual clearly states what my cell phone
>>will look for based on what roaming settings I have configured, and I
>>clearly know what to expect because I've read my manual.
>
>
> Does it specificially address 911 calls?

Yes, it does.

> For the umpteenth-time, WHEN YOU
> DIAL 911 ON A CELL PHONE IT IS *NOT* PROCESSED THE SAME WAY AS A REGULAR
> CALL.

If you insist on believing that, then there is no point in continuing to
argue with you. I just hope your incorrect assumptions don't get you
into some serious trouble later. Good luck to you.



--
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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 6:14:10 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
news:B2_zd.930$WN4.635@fe36.usenetserver.com...
> And how could a 911 test uncover this when a normal call could not?

The easiest way: Because almost all phones can be set not to roam becase
their users don't want to incur roaming charges, yet 911 calls should ignore
this preference is any coverage is available.

> The problem associated with failed 911 calls relates to coverage issues.
> If your phone says "NO service" then guess what? Call won't go through!

Again, wrong. My phone dispays 'No service' if it's set not to roam and
Sprint PCS coverage isn't available, yet -- if an analog carrier is
available -- a 911 call can go through.

I guarantee you this behavior is not at all obvious to most people carrying
cell phones. It doesn't seem to be to you.

> The headline of the article was rather clear: "Testing Cell Phones Ties up
> 911." Seems pretty clear to me.

'Tied up' in the context of a news article can mean anything from 'working
harder than average, but still completely as designed with no problems
whatsoever' to 'completely flooded and unable to accomplish the intended
goal.' It's not at all clear.

> The individual users of the system DO NOT test their own equipment at
> random intervals, nor do they just call and "hang up" when dispatch
> responds.

No one is advocating that people wishing to test 911 do so (1) without
coordination but calling the non-emergency number first or (2) by hanging
up!

>> I'm truly amazed at how much anti-911-test sentiment there is out there.
>
> Maybe that should tell you something about how unreasonable your position
> is.

That's a very naive opinion. Any topic like 'Should you call 911 to test
your cell phone?' is pretty subjective and complex so it's absurd to argue
that -- when the answers are boiled down to 'yes' or 'no' -- either could be
considered 'unreasonable.'

At one time the question of, 'Should there be 911 services on cell phones at
all?' would have generated quite a discussion with plenty of people saying,
'no.'

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 6:14:10 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

In article <B2_zd.930$WN4.635@fe36.usenetserver.com>, Isaiah Beard
<sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote:

> And how could a 911 test uncover this when a normal call could not?
> The problem associated with failed 911 calls relates to coverage
> issues. If your phone says "NO service" then guess what? Call won't
> go through! There is no magic to 911 that makes a new cell tower
> sprout from the ground to miraculously give you coverage when you
> dial it. If a regular call cannot go through, then 911 can be
> expected not to work, either.

Actually, you are incorrect. There *IS* magic to 911 that makes a new
cell tower sprout from the ground to miraculously give you coverage.
Seriously.

When you dial a normal call, you can only use the networks that your
provider has billing agreements with, subject also to your handset's
restrictions on roaming (digital only, digital or analog, no roaming,
etc.). When you dial 911, your cellphone should grab *ANY* network it
can communicate with, irrespective of billing arrangements of your
provider and roaming settings on your handset.

Of course, if there is no cell tower of any description, you can't call
911, but there certainly are situations where a regular call will not
go through but a 911 call will.

All the same, I stand by my opinion that testing 911 from your new
cellphone is in general a bad idea, both because it gives you little if
any useful information and because it may burden the 911 system with a
non-emergency call. If cellphone performance with 911 is a serious
concern to you, by all means read the Consumer Reports article and
choose a phone model and/or provider that they recommend.

I would also say that the few occasions where testing 911 is
appropriate are best handled by knowledgeable folks in close PRIOR
coordination with emergency personnel, to minimize the impact of the
test on the 911 system and also to ensure that the test provides useful
information.

--
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December 27, 2004 7:17:09 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> Tinman,
>
> "Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
> news:33aujrF3v2f8kU1@individual.net...
>> And of course we don't, and likely never will, have the kind of PSAP
>> capacity to allow all citizens to test-call. Ergo, advocating 911
>> test-calling to any "concerned" citizen, particularly from a mobile
>> phone where a test is almost meaningless, is IMO absurd
>
> Do you really thing there are more 'concerned' citizens out there
> who'd want to test-call 911 than the number of people who call 911
> for not truly life/property threatening sitations anyway?

I was being sarcastic. I'm saying that if your suggestion is taken to
its logical extreme--as in everyone test calling 911, even just
once--it's quite unworkable. We already pay for the implementation and
testing of PSAPs. We pay--mandate--carriers to tie into the system,
which of course includes testing. (Let's drop the landline argument, as
that system has been around for decades, and generally works well. If it
didn't, we'd certainly hear about it--and we do, almost entirely from
people who are put on hold by over-burdened PSAPs.)

Test-calling 911 from a cell phone provides nothing but a false sense of
security. And there is little need to: you CAN reasonably expect to
connect to 911 if you can make other mobile calls. You CANNOT reasonably
expect your phone to switch from digital to analog in order to do so.

While the FCC requires "Automatic A/B Roaming using an Intelligent
Retry," it only applies to AMPS phones, and IIRC dual-mode phones
operating in analog mode. Further, this rule came out (in 2000) as AMPS
was on its way out and only applied to new AMPS and dual-mode handsets
(i.e., it was essentially a meaningless ruling). There is no rule that
I'm aware of that specifies a phone must switch modes in order to place
a 911 call.

(BTW, the time required to switch modes, networks, etc., can add
significantly to a call's set-up time. During this time a caller may
just hang-up.)

You also CANNOT expect the answering PSAP to know where or who you are.
There are still, or at least recently were, PSAPs that can only receive
7-digit phone numbers (when those systems were implemented, no one
considered an emergency call coming from a phone with a different
area-code). And the number of PSAPs that have full cellular location
ability is woefully small, and those that do can only work with the
right combination of carrier and/or phone. Bottom line: expect to
explain exactly who and where you are.

I hope you can see how illogical it is to advocate test-calling 911 from
a mobile phone. If you truly have no one to call to test your new toy,
you can always call the CNA hotline (Compulsive Neurotics Anonymous).

(That was just sarcasm again. ^_^)


>
>> For the record, I have coordinated the testing of 911 from PBX
>> systems myself--each and every station. But I did not place a
>> sticker on each station for the end users stating,"Please test 911
>> between 9AM and 11AM, and don't hang up on the operator."
>
> So you should be allowed to test each and ever office phone as part
> of a PBX system that dials 911 because you're a professional phone
> installer, yet the owner/operators of cell phones shouldn't because
> they couldn't possibly do it the way they're supposed to, huh? Sure
> sounds like you're the once claiming that some people are more
> 'entitled' than others...

But you snipped the end of the paragraph where I pointed out that
911-testing a PBX is akin to a wireless provider testing their
equipment. Both systems need to connect to the PSTN, and need to be
adequately tested. But not by end users. (There are specific reasons why
each station needs testing in an MLTS-type environment--reasons that
differ markedly from a wireless phone and a directly-connected landline
phone.)


--
Mike
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 7:18:01 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Linc Madison" <spamtrap@lincmad.com> wrote in message news:261220042324553671%spamtrap@lincmad.com...
>
>
> When you use your cellphone to dial 911, several things happen
> differently. The phone should automatically override your preference
> against roaming and even disregard the question of whether your
> provider has billing arrangements with the provider whose network you
> are using. The phone must disregard any lockout or security code that
> you may have to enter to make ordinary calls.
>
> Linc Madison

How much time might typically elapse for the phone to find a "better"
signal provider, and then register on that possibly foreign system,
before placing the 911 call?
I'd like to believe it would be a negligible delay, but I'm curious.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 7:18:02 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

John R. Copeland wrote:

> How much time might typically elapse for the phone to find a "better"
> signal provider, and then register on that possibly foreign system,
> before placing the 911 call?
> I'd like to believe it would be a negligible delay, but I'm curious.

Had to dial 911 once from a Verizon phone in Lake County, Ohio, in a
neighborhood where Verizon digital coverage was spotty. The Nokia 3285 I was
using grabbed an analog signal pretty quickly (within 5-10 seconds). It was
*PROBABLY* Alltel's network, maybe AT&T's; but I'm not sure. It might have been
Verizon's, but that's unlikely given their lack of coverage in this particular
neighborhood back then.

--
JustThe.net Internet & New Media Services, http://JustThe.net/
Steven J. Sobol, Geek In Charge / 888.480.4NET (4638) / sjsobol@JustThe.net
PGP Key available from your friendly local key server (0xE3AE35ED)
Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 7:23:05 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
news:33bjcoF3vc3unU1@individual.net...
> I was being sarcastic. I'm saying that if your suggestion is taken to its
> logical extreme--as in everyone test calling 911, even just once--it's
> quite unworkable.

Almost every 'good thing' taken to its extreme is unworkable if it were to
all happen to once... everyone deciding one day to get a cholesterol test,
everyone showing up for the next election, etc.

> You CANNOT reasonably expect your phone to switch from digital to analog
> in order to do so.


Ummm... why not? If I were designing a device, if that device is told to do
whatever it can to contact help regarding a life threatening situation, I'd
certainly have it exhaust all possible bands and modes before it gave up.

> There is no rule that I'm aware of that specifies a phone must switch
> modes in order to place a 911 call.

The vast majority of things cell phones do aren't mandated by FCC rules yet
but can still be 'reasonably expected' by consumers.

> You also CANNOT expect the answering PSAP to know where or who you are.

This is again a technology -- and hence money -- issue. 'Who' you are
strikes me as relatively easy to implement. 'Where' you are... well... I've
personally been surprised that someone -- the FCC? -- thought it was worth
the money to mandate that cell phones should be able to figure out where
they were. I wonder what percentage of cell phone callers to 911 are
unaware of where they are or unable to provide that information? I suspect
the added cost spread over all the cell phone subscribers such that their
cell phones end up providing location information is probabl noticeably
greater than the cost of a test 911 call. :-)

> There are still, or at least recently were, PSAPs that can only receive
> 7-digit phone numbers (when those systems were implemented, no one
> considered an emergency call coming from a phone with a different
> area-code).

I certainly don't know the details, but I can't help but feel that the
system was designed pretty poorly in the first place if the ability to
change from 7 digit to 10 digit numbers isn't pretty straightforward. I
mean, I've been writing computer software since the early '80s, and at that
time, yeah, memory was spendy and CPUs were slow and it often made sense to
hard-code a lot of restrictions in systems. By the '90s those arguments
were typically gone, and by the mid-'90s it was no longer acceptable
practice in many companies to do so.

I do realize that PSAPs run 'high reliability' equipment that takes
considerably longer to engineer/test/etc. than reglar 'off the shelf'
equipment, but still... it's (almost) 2005 here!

> Bottom line: expect to explain exactly who and where you are.

Good advice. If you're still telling people that in 5-10 years, it'll be
sad.

> (There are specific reasons why each station needs testing in an MLTS-type
> environment--reasons that differ markedly from a wireless phone and a
> directly-connected landline phone.)

I'm curious what those would be...?

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:25:09 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:

>>The system is "checked" many, many times a day in real life emergencies.
>>There is nothing inherent to one person's particular cell phone that will
>>permit them to uncover a problem with the PSAP that has not already been
>>discovered through legitimate requests for assistance, and fulfillment of
>>those requests.
>
>
> The problems are more with the cell phones than the PSAPs.

You STILL ignore the obvious: testing a cell phone on recepit of it does
not guarantee it will continue to work well in a different location
under different sets of corcumstances. How will testing your cell phone
under what amounts to ideal conditions give you the assurance you seek?
you refuse to answer this question. Could it be you have NO answer?

> I'd be a lot more sympathetic to you and others who are saying it's a bad
> idea to test 911 connectivity to a new cell phone if the Consumer Reports
> article found that there WEREN'T problems with the connections going
> through.

So basically, you're centering your whole paranoia and desire to flood
the same system you want working when you need it based on a single
Consumer Reports article.

The oh-so-horrifying details you're clinging so desperately to amount to
a very simple principle: if the cell phone does not have service... it
won't make a call to 911! What's the best way to check and see if there
is service? Well, you can either look at the signal strength indicator,
or make a routine call to a number o0ther than 911! If the call doesn't
go through, then 911 won't either. If the call DOES go through, then
it's reasonable to assume that there will be no problme with 911 as far
as end user equipment is concerned.

You can choose to be "sympathetic" or not. But that doesn't change the
fact that you're taking the results of a Consumer Reports article and
overextending the implication of said article into somehting that is
entirely untenable. Frequent "Test calls" by individuals will only make
the system LESS reliable, when in fact you want it to be more
reliable... at least I HOPE that's your aim.

> As it is now, you seem to be arguing that while clearly 911
> usually works as designed, the fact that there are cases were this isn't the
> case should be assumed to be a fluke or irrelevent occurence not worthy of
> continuing tests.

No. I am saying that there are a number of things that are already
being done that make end user testing of the 911 system an unnecessary
duplication of tests that are already conducted. They do not serve to
improve anything, and are a waste of time, money, and are a diversion of
resources that could otherwise be used by a person having a legitimate
emergency and needs the system to work.


> This reminds me of the case of the... space probe? missile? -- I forget
> which -- that once, during a ground test, had some bizarre inexplicable
> computer crash that was dismissed since it couldn't be reproduced and then
> had to be destroyed after launch when the same bug struck again.

And where did THIS paragraph come from? First you put words in my
mouth, and now this drivel. No citing of any incident, and for all I
know you just made something up. Quit grasping at straws; it's okay to
admit you're wrong from time to time, really. :) 


>>Which brings me to my other point, which you so cleanly glossed over: a
>>single test of a cell phone when new does not guarantee that the same cell
>>phone will work later. It ony guarantees that had you been in an
>>emergency at that place at that time, help might have gotten to you.
>
>
> Right


Good! We agree. Then we can end this thread.

> as I've said before, I'm suggesting people hedge there bets. At some
> point it becomes absurd and not worth the expense/hassle to test for every
> conceivable failure (and historically safety failures occur more often due
> to internal political communication problems rather than a lack of testing
> anywa).

Then clearly you see that testing to the point of overflowing the system
with tests meets your criteria for diminishing returns. Glad you're
seeing it my way.



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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:25:10 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
news:8C2Ad.27$m6.12@fe36.usenetserver.com...
> You STILL ignore the obvious: testing a cell phone on recepit of it does
> not guarantee it will continue to work well in a different location under
> different sets of corcumstances. How will testing your cell phone under
> what amounts to ideal conditions give you the assurance you seek? you
> refuse to answer this question. Could it be you have NO answer?

First, I suggested that testing of the cell phone should be performed where
it's most likely to be necessar. Secondly, it is of course true that
there's no way you can ever guarantee that your phone will complete a 911
call when you really need it to. But, performing a test under the
conditions that you feel are most likely to be encountered during an actual
call will give one a significant amount of assurance as to the way their
phone and the system will work during an actual 911 call.

> So basically, you're centering your whole paranoia and desire to flood the
> same system you want working when you need it based on a single Consumer
> Reports article.

I don't think the word 'paranoia' really applies in this case. Who,
exactly, is out to get me? :-)

I'm say that when a system doesn't behave the way many people arguably would
have expected it, in the future it deserves somewhat closer attenuation and
better testing. 'Better testing' only translate to 'flood' in your mind,
not in mine.

> The oh-so-horrifying details you're clinging so desperately to amount to a
> very simple principle: if the cell phone does not have service... it won't
> make a call to 911!

As other people have confirmed, the cell phone display stating 'no service'
does NOT indicate a 911 call will fail. By the same token, the cell phone
display stating that you DO have services doesn't indicate a 911 call will
go through either, but I'd be a little more peeved in that scenario if it
didn't.

> Frequent "Test calls" by individuals will only make the system LESS
> reliable, when in fact you want it to be more reliable... at least I HOPE
> that's your aim.

You're the only one suggesting 'frequent' calls. My number was something
like 'once per new cell phone, if you're concerned.'

> No. I am saying that there are a number of things that are already being
> done that make end user testing of the 911 system an unnecessary
> duplication of tests that are already conducted. They do not serve to
> improve anything, and are a waste of time, money, and are a diversion of
> resources that could otherwise be used by a person having a legitimate
> emergency and needs the system to work.

This sounds very much like someone who has been put under the microscope by
the likes of 60 Minutes, Consumer Reports, etc. or a private company turned
in by a whistle blower objecting that any continued scrutiny is a waste of
time, money, and a diversion of resources.

But you and I seem to have a basic disagreement on how much of an impact on
the system something like one quarter of one percent of cell phones users
placing a test call to 911 every couple of years (whenever they get a new
phone) is really going to be. By the numbers in another post, it worked out
to about 11 extra calls per day spread throughout the entire country...
surely the system can handle this? (Granted, the distribution of those
calls isn't uniform -- the problem the original news report pointed out.)

> And where did THIS paragraph come from?

It was actually bait for you; I'm glad you took it. :-) It really has
little to do with the conversation, I just thought it an interesting
anecdote: lack of testing is bad, that's all... but you'd probably agree
with that. (More bait: You'll also recall the Hubble Telescope, where some
outside party volunteered to test the telescope's optics FOR FREE but the
government turned them down because they felt their own internal testing was
perfectly adequate. Big 'oops!' there, eh?)

In general I don't believe in leaving ALL 'testing' to the government and
those with a fiduciary interest in what's being tested.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:25:11 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Execvtive svmmary: vse 911 only for REAL emergencies.

In article <b7SdnRZcDOPTJk3cRVn-vw@comcast.com>, Joel Kolstad
<JKolstad71HatesSpam@Yahoo.Com> wrote:

> First, I svggested that testing of the cell phone shovld be performed
> where it's most likely to be necessar. Secondly, it is of covrse
> trve that there's no way yov can ever gvarantee that yovr phone will
> complete a 911 call when yov really need it to. Bvt, performing a
> test vnder the conditions that yov feel are most likely to be
> encovntered dvring an actval call will give one a significant amovnt
> of assvrance as to the way their phone and the system will work
> dvring an actval 911 call.

If yov already know where yov're likely to need 911, check the area for
payphones -- jvst in case yovr cellphone's battery is dead.

Also, as I pointed ovt earlier, a random test now doesn't mean that the
cellphone will perform the same way (good or bad) when yov actvally
need it.

> I'm say that when a system doesn't behave the way many people
> argvably wovld have expected it, in the fvtvre it deserves somewhat
> closer attenvation and better testing. 'Better testing' only
> translate to 'flood' in yovr mind, not in mine.

Yov're not advocating BETTER testing. Yov're advocating MORE testing.
Qvantity is not the same as qvality, and this is an excellent example
of that principle. Having someone like Consvmers Union do some tests,
coordinated with emergency response officials, with carefvl
measvrements of things like signal strength of variovs carriers, can
yield vsefvl information. Individval end vsers dialing 911 jvst to see
if it works, do not yield any vsefvl information at all.

> As other people have confirmed, the cell phone display stating 'no
> service' does NOT indicate a 911 call will fail. By the same token,
> the cell phone display stating that yov DO have services doesn't
> indicate a 911 call will go throvgh either, bvt I'd be a little more
> peeved in that scenario if it didn't.

The cellphone display showing that yov have service *DOES* actvally
indicate that a 911 call will go throvgh, qvite reliably. Mvch more
reliably than it indicates that any other call will go throvgh. The
bottom line: if yov can call Avnt Martha, then yov can be absolvtely
100% assvred yov can call 911.

> > No. I am saying that there are a nvmber of things that are already
> > being done that make end vser testing of the 911 system an
> > vnnecessary dvplication of tests that are already condvcted. They
> > do not serve to improve anything, and are a waste of time, money,
> > and are a diversion of resovrces that covld otherwise be vsed by a
> > person having a legitimate emergency and needs the system to work.
>
> This sovnds very mvch like someone who has been pvt vnder the
> microscope by the likes of 60 Minvtes, Consvmer Reports, etc. or a
> private company tvrned in by a whistle blower objecting that any
> continved scrvtiny is a waste of time, money, and a diversion of
> resovrces.

Comparing an ordinary end-vser opening a Christmas present and trying
it ovt on 911, to 60 Minvtes or Consvmer Reports, is absvrd. If 60
Minvtes or Consvmers Union wants to test the cellvlar 911 system, I
trvst them to do it in a responsible manner, inclvding getting data
that will be vsefvl to more than jvst one person.

> In general I don't believe in leaving ALL 'testing' to the government
> and those with a fidvciary interest in what's being tested.

Neither does anyone in this thread. Yov're making a straw-man argvment
here.

Bottom line: DO NOT take yovr shiny new cellphone ovt of the box and
call 911 as a test. Call 911 only in a REAL emergency.

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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:25:12 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

For all you folks who are so anti-911 testing by consumers... perhaps the
solution to the article's original gripe is to get cell phone manufacturers
to put on page 1 of the manual that testing 911 shouldn't be performed.
This is better than what I received, that instead starts off about proper
911-testing etiquette (although I don't think it was page 1 :-) ) -- giving
people that list certainly implies that test calling 911 is reasonable in
the view of the manufacturer, no?

---Joel
Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:31:57 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> "Isaiah Beard" <sacredpoet@sacredpoet.com> wrote in message
> news:B2_zd.930$WN4.635@fe36.usenetserver.com...
>
>>And how could a 911 test uncover this when a normal call could not?
>
>
> The easiest way: Because almost all phones can be set not to roam becase
> their users don't want to incur roaming charges, yet 911 calls should ignore
> this preference is any coverage is available.

Uh huh. And so test-calling 911 in ideal conditions, in your home where
you have native non-roaming coverage, is going to ensure that this cell
phone will work when it's roaming, right?

It's amazing how badly you want to defend your position when even by
your own standards, what you propose simply won't do what you want it to.


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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:44:54 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Linc Madison wrote:

> Actually, you are incorrect. There *IS* magic to 911 that makes a new
> cell tower sprout from the ground to miraculously give you coverage.
> Seriously.

First off, I don't see how Mr. Kolstad can argue that "test calling" on
your cell phone under ideal conditions, when you're at home and
presumably have cell service from your provider, will test roaming
conditions. And second, testing at home still dosn't address what
happens in unexpected situatuons. An emergency can happen anywhere, and
it's unlikely you'll be able to test 911 roaming in situations where it
might actually come into play under real life situations.

If anything, using a single initial test call as your yardstick for how
reliable your phone will be will only give you a very false sense of
security. To have that flase security with your trusty cell phopne at
your side, believing help is only a button push or three away is a very
dangerous and cavalier way of thinking.

Second... I still don't think that people SHOULD rely on roaming as
their saving grace. Even the largest analog networks do not cover all
of the US, and not all phones roam on all networks. Just like cell
service is still a service of convenience, roaming should be considered
a luxury, and should be relied on even LESS. It will not work 100% of
the time, no matter how much you test it.

So in general I'll admit I might be wrong about roaming, but from a
pratical safety standpoint, if you plan on getting mugged, having a
heart attack, or getting in a car accident, I wouldn't do it if my phone
said ROAM or NO SERVICE on it, thank you very much. :)  And I must
reiterate: testing is a useless guarantee. It promises NOTHING, except
that it will cause unnecessary workload for the people who will help you
in a real emergency... assuming you can get to them, after being queued
behind all of those test calls.

> When you dial a normal call, you can only use the networks that your
> provider has billing agreements with, subject also to your handset's
> restrictions on roaming (digital only, digital or analog, no roaming,
> etc.). When you dial 911, your cellphone should grab *ANY* network it
> can communicate with, irrespective of billing arrangements of your
> provider and roaming settings on your handset.
>
> Of course, if there is no cell tower of any description, you can't call
> 911, but there certainly are situations where a regular call will not
> go through but a 911 call will.
>
> All the same, I stand by my opinion that testing 911 from your new
> cellphone is in general a bad idea, both because it gives you little if
> any useful information and because it may burden the 911 system with a
> non-emergency call. If cellphone performance with 911 is a serious
> concern to you, by all means read the Consumer Reports article and
> choose a phone model and/or provider that they recommend.
>
> I would also say that the few occasions where testing 911 is
> appropriate are best handled by knowledgeable folks in close PRIOR
> coordination with emergency personnel, to minimize the impact of the
> test on the 911 system and also to ensure that the test provides useful
> information.
>


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Anonymous
December 27, 2004 11:44:55 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

> First off, I don't see how Mr. Kolstad can argue that "test calling" on
> your cell phone under ideal conditions, when you're at home and presumably
> have cell service from your provider, will test roaming conditions.

For about the fourth time here, Isaia, this isn't what I advocated. Go
re-read some more posts.

You spend several paragraphs in here discussing how people shouldn't 'rely'
on the cell phone system, how it's not all that horribly reliable anyway,
etc. Perhaps this fact should be stressed more in cell phone manuals (it
certainly was in my manual already), but on the other hand something that is
NOT typically communicated to end users is that regardless of what the
phone's display says (no service, keypad locked, etc.), if you're in a
life-threatening situation and your cell phone is your only means of
communication, one should immediately _attempt_ to dial 911 on it. At
worst, you're no worse off than when you started, and if you're lucky, the
end results could be much more positive.

> Second... I still don't think that people SHOULD rely on roaming as their
> saving grace. Even the largest analog networks do not cover all of the
> US, and not all phones roam on all networks. Just like cell service is
> still a service of convenience, roaming should be considered a luxury, and
> should be relied on even LESS. It will not work 100% of the time, no
> matter how much you test it.

This exact same paragraph could be applied to landline communications as
well. It doesn't work 100% of the time either, no matter how much you test
it (even though it is, of course, more reliable than a cell phone).

And of course land lines don't work at all when you're not physically beside
them. A 90% solution that operates in all the places you expect to be is
arguably better than a 100% solution that operates where you only spend,
say, half your time.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 28, 2004 12:34:47 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

I did a little checking, and you can find web pages run by PSAPs both
encouraging and discouraing test calls to 911. Example of the former:
http://www.averyco.com/comm/testcall.htm ...and the later:
http://www.city.waltham.ma.us/wpdweb/WalthamPDWeb/crime... . In
this fast and unofficial survey, the trend seems to be... the bigger the
agency handling the calls, the more discouraging they are of test calls.

The web site matches do tend to be heavily weighted towards 'don't call,'
although some of that may be the connection between bigger PSAPs (who
generally seem more discouraging) also being more likely to _have_ web sites
in the first place.

I also found references to the original Consumer Reports article, and it
discourages test calls.

As already mentioned, I think this all boils down to the need for consumers
to receive more information about 911 call handling with cell phones in as
prominent of a place as possible when they get the phone itself.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 28, 2004 1:12:47 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> For all you folks who are so anti-911 testing by consumers... perhaps the
> solution to the article's original gripe is to get cell phone manufacturers
> to put on page 1 of the manual that testing 911 shouldn't be performed.

Which will be ignored. One thing I found working retail -- as well as doing
Internet tech support -- is that you could have the directions on a huge
flashing neon sign and many people would STILL ignore them.

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Apple Valley, California Nothing scares me anymore. I have three kids.
December 28, 2004 2:04:39 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:
> I did a little checking, and you can find web pages run by PSAPs both
> encouraging and discouraing test calls to 911. Example of the former:
> http://www.averyco.com/comm/testcall.htm ...and the later:
> http://www.city.waltham.ma.us/wpdweb/WalthamPDWeb/crime... .
> In this fast and unofficial survey, the trend seems to be... the
> bigger the agency handling the calls, the more discouraging they are
> of test calls.

The links you provided, more specifically the one "encouraging" testing,
are for landlines. And in the case of the former, a small rural/mountain
community, with the entire county's population at only 18,000.

Some small/rural communities don't even have landline 911 fully in place
yet, let alone enhanced (landline) 911. (Forget about wireless E911.)
Enhanced 911 requires valid street addresses. A lot of rural addresses
had none--some still don't--so addresses had to be literally created
(RR2, BFE just doesn't cut it). Or, they might have "local" street
addresses that are good enough for pizza delivery, but not recognized by
the USPS. If such communities allow or advocate 911-testing, it's
possible the reason is to test address accuracy more than anything else
(unless they are just rolling out 911 in general).

I don't know if this is the case with Avery Co., but I can state with
certainty that they have just completed, or are still in the process of,
re-addressing the community (www.averyco.com/comm/addressing.htm), and
updating the MSAG database. Accordingly, the 911 test-calling the Web
site refers to specifically targets the accuracy of MSAG data. Whether
the volume of 911 calls was a factor in asking for, what amounts to,
citizen participation is irrelevant in this case.

But based on their laissez-faire attitude about calling 911, I'd guess
they average less than a dozen true emergency calls per day. And
test-calling 911 in this case is probably the lesser of two evils: the
risk of a test-call preventing someone from receiving help is much less
than the risk of help being sent to the wrong location due to a MSAG
error (considering their, arguably haphazard, re-addressing project).
One would hope they ran that Web page past the county attorney before
releasing it.

But this really has little to do with test-calling 911 from a mobile
phone, right?


--
Mike
Anonymous
December 28, 2004 2:04:40 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
news:33dldqF40i0gjU1@individual.net...
> But this really has little to do with test-calling 911 from a mobile
> phone, right?

Yes, the topic has certainly drifted. It does seem that the consensus is
that test calling 911 from a cell phone is a Bad Idea, and my initial
suggestion that people who were 'concerned' about their phone's behavior
during such calls was misguided. Hopefully most people would agree,
however, that continued testing by the likes of Consumer Reports and others
who have no regulatory or fiduciary interest in how the system operates is a
worthwhile endeavor, and can serve to benefit the folks who are paying for
the system in the first place.

I have a 'small town' background, so I probably am a little out of touch
about just how the putatively overworked and underfunded large city PSAPs
are.

---Joel
Anonymous
December 28, 2004 2:04:40 PM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

"Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
news:33dldqF40i0gjU1@individual.net...
> But based on their laissez-faire attitude about calling 911, I'd guess
> they average less than a dozen true emergency calls per day.

Out of curiosity, does anyone know how many 911 calls some large
metropolitan area such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York receives?
And what the breakdown is of 'true' emergency calls, 'my cat is stuck in a
tree'/'I have a flat tire' calls, etc.?

---Joel
Anonymous
December 29, 2004 3:14:42 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 10:29:49 -0800, "Joel Kolstad"
<JKolstad71HatesSpam@Yahoo.Com> wrote:

>"Tinman" <mlynch@REMOVEMEcitlink.net> wrote in message
>news:33dldqF40i0gjU1@individual.net...
>> But this really has little to do with test-calling 911 from a mobile
>> phone, right?
>
>Yes, the topic has certainly drifted. It does seem that the consensus is
>that test calling 911 from a cell phone is a Bad Idea, and my initial
>suggestion that people who were 'concerned' about their phone's behavior
>during such calls was misguided. Hopefully most people would agree,
>however, that continued testing by the likes of Consumer Reports and others
>who have no regulatory or fiduciary interest in how the system operates is a
>worthwhile endeavor, and can serve to benefit the folks who are paying for
>the system in the first place.
>
>I have a 'small town' background, so I probably am a little out of touch
>about just how the putatively overworked and underfunded large city PSAPs
>are.

That wouldn't be small-town Palestine, Texas, would it?

>
>---Joel
>
Anonymous
December 30, 2004 12:11:32 AM

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.sprintpcs (More info?)

Joel Kolstad wrote:

>>You STILL ignore the obvious: testing a cell phone on recepit of it does
>>not guarantee it will continue to work well in a different location under
>>different sets of corcumstances. How will testing your cell phone under
>>what amounts to ideal conditions give you the assurance you seek? you
>>refuse to answer this question. Could it be you have NO answer?
>
>
> First, I suggested that testing of the cell phone should be performed where
> it's most likely to be necessar.

Define that. What do you consieder to be "most necessary." If you're
talking about where an emergency is most likely to occur, than that's
rather hard to predict. Part of the risk and danger behind an emergency
is that time and place cannot be predicted.

If you want to argue that the "most necessary" conditions are where the
phone will be used in day to day routine travel, then I still don't see
how making a routine non-911 phone call is not a sufficient test.
Routine routes are likely to be ones well covered by a subscriber's
carrier; otherwise, that customer wouldn't be subscribing to a carrier
that doesn't cover the area well, no? So you can't really test roaming,
you can't really test how the phone will find another network to place
this 911 call, and you can't really make the phone do anything it
wouldn't normally do outside of that routine coverage area under routine
conditions.

> Secondly, it is of course true that
> there's no way you can ever guarantee that your phone will complete a 911
> call when you really need it to. But, performing a test under the
> conditions that you feel are most likely to be encountered during an actual
> call will give one a significant amount of assurance as to the way their
> phone and the system will work during an actual 911 call.

Based on the conditions you're outlining, you have failed to make a case
that a person will have any assurance that would have otherwise been
afforded through routine use of the phone. And if a person does test
their phone in ideal conditions then ventures away from those ideal
conditions, this sense of assurance you profess could be a false one.
Kinda like testing a fire extinguisher in a non-emergency, and being
assured it'll work... only to find that the same fire extinguisher is
now empty in a time when you might really need it.

>>So basically, you're centering your whole paranoia and desire to flood the
>>same system you want working when you need it based on a single Consumer
>>Reports article.
>
>
> I don't think the word 'paranoia' really applies in this case. Who,
> exactly, is out to get me? :-)

I think it does, and in fact I think it smacks of a type of paranois
where you're attempting to instill the same fear in other people. Your
cell phone might no protect you *GASP!* So let's all call 911 and see
if the cell phone will really do the job. Let's just hope someone with
a real emergency will actually be able to get through, seeing as how
we're busy testing this system and all. If people's lives weren't at
stake, it would actually be kind of funny how your proposal makes a
resource less available, when your stated goal is to make sure it's
available as possible.


> I'm say that when a system doesn't behave the way many people arguably would
> have expected it, in the future it deserves somewhat closer attenuation and
> better testing.

Having Joe Blow fire up his cell phone to make a false 911 call doesn't
constitute "better testing." Better testing, in my mind, amounts to
trained, designated people who have experience in such tests, and the
resources to test the worst possible scenarios, track a variety of
possible failure modes, AND to find and trace those failure modes so
that they can be corrected in short order.

And end-user "test" has only two possible modes: it worked or it didn't.
By the time the end user hangs up, he or she has no data on why the
test may have failed, where things may have gone wrong (maybe a misroute
at a switch, a faulty cell sector, the cell is breathing due to a lack
of capacity, the dispatch center is having a system failure, or maybe it
was user error, etc), or how to fix the point of failure. And that
doesnt' bode well even if he or she reports that the call didn't work to
the cell service provider, who has no data to go on other than
"something went wrong, somewhere. Maybe."

Further, the end user probably has little to no coordination with the
PSAP or cell provider on this test. He or she doesn't know whether no
one else is testing or whether 900 other users decided to test at the
same time. He doesn't know if it's a quiet night, or if a 5-alarm
industrial fire with hazmat, numerous injuries and suspicions of arson
with an armed and fleeing suspect is tying up the response channels, and
now might not be a good time to run his little test.

And yet you're going to sit here and tell me that Joe Blow testing his
cell phone whenever the hell he feels like it, just for grins, amounts
to "better testing?"

> 'Better testing' only translate to 'flood' in your mind,
> not in mine.

No, it translates to a potential for a number of people to tie up
resources for NOTHING. The brand of "Testing" you seek provides no
verifiable or traceable results and offer little to no benefit, yet will
make dispatch centers busier. For nothing!

> As other people have confirmed, the cell phone display stating 'no service'
> does NOT indicate a 911 call will fail.

Nor does it mean that any test will assure you that despite "no
service," your phone is still going to manage to find a signal somehow,
somewhere. It's possible, and a great thing if it works, but should NOT
be depended on. The Conntinental US does NOT have 100% blanket coverage
of even the most basic analog service. And some phones STILL can't be
relied on to use an alternate network. This is especially true if you
have an iden phone, a GSM only phone, or a CDMA only phone, which are
becoming more and more popular now as the sunset date for analog approaches.

> By the same token, the cell phone
> display stating that you DO have services doesn't indicate a 911 call will
> go through either,

Agreed! And neither does a test done who-knows-when, who-knows-where.

>>Frequent "Test calls" by individuals will only make the system LESS
>>reliable, when in fact you want it to be more reliable... at least I HOPE
>>that's your aim.
>
>
> You're the only one suggesting 'frequent' calls. My number was something
> like 'once per new cell phone, if you're concerned.'

We already did the math on that. Once per new cell phone activation
still amounts to tens of thousands of calls per day, on only one cell
carrier (who by the way isn't the largest). And while not everyone may
be concerned, it's people like you who are driving people into a false
need for concern AND a false sense of security.

>>No. I am saying that there are a number of things that are already being
>>done that make end user testing of the 911 system an unnecessary
>>duplication of tests that are already conducted. They do not serve to
>>improve anything, and are a waste of time, money, and are a diversion of
>>resources that could otherwise be used by a person having a legitimate
>>emergency and needs the system to work.
>
>
> This sounds very much like someone who has been put under the microscope by
> the likes of 60 Minutes, Consumer Reports, etc. or a private company turned
> in by a whistle blower objecting that any continued scrutiny is a waste of
> time, money, and a diversion of resources.

Please. I represent no company, and have no agenda except that of calm
and common sense.

You don't strike me for one second to be in the same league as Erin
Brockovich, and you most certainly are no Ralph Nader, so don't hide
behind this banner of what is righteous and moral. There is a fine line
between whistleblower and a fearmonger who has no hard facts and claims
to have expertise in a field he has never demonstrated any knowledge in
whatsoever. And you sir, are very much the latter.



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