molly hankwitz on 15 Nov 2000 01:09:05 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] cell/mobile debate

Responding to some comments about phone usage in the usa
and mobile phone usage there...

some points of interest:

a) common usage among people in the bay area (west coast)
 has terms such as 'mobile' and 'cell' being used very frequently. to call
own phone, 'cellphone' is not as common as hearing it referred to
as 'my mobile' or my 'cell' --"you can always reach me on  my cell"
one also hears a lot of "cellular phones" but this from more official
language such as newspapers and police reports.

b) local calls are charged in many parts of the usa. in the bay area
they are charged higher for business phones and at a lower-rate for
residential phones. (then for day, evening and night rates)
 i don't know if other countries have this breakdown
according to business and residential...i would be interested to know.
there is also a fantastic feature of PacBell, the leading phone company
and ex-monopoly phone company in Northern California...they have
something called a Universal Help Line, I think that's the name, which
is for low-income, ill and elderly has a basic monthly billing cost
of only $10.00 almost half of any other type of account and calls are
charged at
an extremely low-rate. This was designed to ensure( especially isolated
people) access to the "outside"world at a respectful rate.

There are many little phone companies cropping up all over the us
which are competing in service and prices to the bigger companies
like MCI, AT&T and others.  Their overall ad "schtick" is to compete
with prices and be less oriented towards "giveaways" and
paper wastage. As it makes no difference which state you are in
for which service you use, you can use a company in Massachusetts
that is cheaper than those in California, from California, for example.
This competition  has been a fairly recent phenomenon.

c) I really don't think that the mobile phone user in the states, at least in
urban areas is so uncommon or "rare".  these statistics mentioned would
have to be measured against populations overall and the size of countries and
relative urban populations, i think. where do the users generally live
in the usa, and so forth...i think that the issue of overhearing phone
conversations, particularly in the era of Scanner and Negativeland
sampling, is not only strange at first, but humorous because it has
long been thought that most phone calls were made "in private"---
curiously, the sense that no one is listening, is part of this, Wark's
article suggested ...this oblivious aspect seems relative to the kinds
of spaces in which people are having the conversations.

maybe phones, like cigarettes in san francisco, will be outlawed in certain
of spaces and the street will be/remain the respository of mobile life???

Hope this helps.

errata: SFNet, the cafe net, was 25 cents for ten minutes, not an hour.
a little less utopian than we thought. my apologies for the mistake.


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