If We Allow You Better Phone Service...The Terrorists Win!

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Consumers have no idea how reliable their cell phone service will be when they buy a phone and sign a long-term contract. The Federal Communications Commission could offer some guidance, but it won't. The agency refuses to make public a detailed database of cell phone provider outages that it has maintained since 2004.

The reason? Why of course, this would help terrorists. If for example, they wanted to blow the crap out of several hundred thousand cell towers across the country, this would help them do it. I feel safer all ready. "Can you hear me now?"

A federal Freedom of Information Act request for the data, filed in August by MSNBC.com, has been rejected by the agency. The stated reasons: Release of the information could help terrorists plan attacks against the United States, and it would harm the companies involved.

Complaints about cell phone service are near the top of every list of consumer gripes. The Illinois attorney general’s office, for example, last year ranked cell phone complaints as the fourth-most-common complaint, trailing only gas prices, credit card firms and home improvement scams.

To find out if a cell phone carrier service will be reliable, consumers are forced to buy a phone, then use it at home and on their normal commuting routes. Callers generally get 30 days at most to return a phone if the service doesn’t work well enough.

But that test won’t reveal anything about carriers’ periodic outages.

The Federal Communications Commission does know something about outages, however. It has collected outage reports from telecommunications firms since the early 1990s. Any time a carrier has an outage that affects 900,000 caller minutes – say a 30-minute outage impacting 30,000 customers – it must report it to the Network Outage Reporting System.

In the beginning, the reports all were from “wire line” telephone providers and were available to the public. But in 2004, the commission ordered wireless firms to supply outage reports as well. But at the same time, it removed all outage reports from public view and exempted them from the Freedom of Information Act.

The FCC took the action at the urging of the Department of Homeland Security, which argued that publication of the reports would “jeopardize our security efforts.”



Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-01-06 16:35:43
Well, of course! If the terrorists know that there was a 30-minute outage in Des Moines, they will learn that there MUST BE A CELL TOWER in Des Moines. You can see how dangerous such knowledge would be to release.


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