Thursday, June 19, 2003

Stupid Corporate Tricks, Part II

I'm still trying my best to remember the new cell phone number I received when I switched from Sprint to Verizon. Then I saw this in today's Business section:

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission can create area codes specific to mobile telephones, a U.S. appeals court ruled, rebuffing a challenge by Sprint Corp.


Sprint argued the FCC plan could allow the agency to inconvenience current wireless customers by forcing them to switch their 10-digit phone numbers for entirely new ones, while landline users kept theirs.

I had no idea the cell phone companies were so worried about people having to change phone numbers. Why it seems like just yesterday I heard them yelling and screaming about what a bad idea cell phone number portability was. Despite being told by the FCC to make this happen in the mid-90s, the cellular industry has been whining and dragging its feet for years. As Stewart Alsop makes the point:
Question: What do Andrew McBride and Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf have in common?

Answer: They're both loyal lackeys of corrupt administrations willing to say anything in order to justify their existence.

Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf is the now infamous Information Minister of Iraq who insisted that the Iraqi army and government had control of Baghdad and were massacring coalition troops right and left. "I triple-guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad," the minister was quoted as saying just as Americans were entering the city.

Andrew McBride, on the other hand, is a lawyer for Verizon Wireless, the largest cellular operator in the U.S., and for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association. McBride has taken on, somewhat enthusiastically, the job of justifying the cellular industry's base interests as being the most desirable for consumers. He was quoted as testifying in court to the following point of view: "It's very speculative to say this [number portability] even offers consumer benefits."

Get your story straight, guys! If you're so convinced that it will hurt consumers if their numbers change, why have you been so busily fighting cellular number portability for the last five years? Sheesh.

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