Wireless and wired voice and data networks have, and will continue to become, virtually indispensable infrastructures needed to live a normal life. As such, their reliability needs to be ensured so that normal and catastrophic disruptions are kept to a minimum.
Cellular phone networks should be required by the government to be reliable (able to perform their intended functions) 99.9% of the time and from 99.9% of the service area from public spaces. This means that only an average cumulative total of 10 minutes per week would be the maximum acceptable period time that a cellular phone would be unable to make a call or perform any other normal function. (This downtime would not include problems with the phone itself, but only the network to which it is connected.)
A service area reliability of 99.9% is harder to ensure primarily because the fewest number of cell towers are spaced as far apart as possible to cover the largest geographical area to encompass the largest possible number of people. Thus, marginal areas are usually the places that suffer from low or absent cell tower signals. Then, as people travel from one place to another, they travel through such areas and it is very often the case that signals are very poor or lost altogether. Part of the solution to this problem is to require each industry to get together to build, maintain and manage their common infrastructures, such as cell towers. Instead of duplicating their tower overlays like they are doing today, getting the industry together and investing in common infrastructures would enable the savings of large amounts of money and encourage them to focus on filling in gaps in their coverage areas. But perhaps the most effective stimulant for the ultimate solution would be a government mandate that a certain service reliability standard, such as this 99.9% proposal, be met.
It is understandable that many buildings and underground parking structures will severely block signals from being detected. However, these location are likely to be in private locations. Perhaps significantly large areas of poor signal strength in private areas could be covered by the installation of either voluntary or mandatory signal strength boosters. Nevertheless, signal strength as measured from all public locations must be at or above a certain strength level as measured from 99.9% of all publicly accessible locations.
The reliability of an internet connection should also be regulated to a minimum standard, such as 99.9%. This means that 99.9% of the time that any device attempts to connect to the internet, it should be able to do so. The internet is a medium of communication that clearly forms increasingly critical backbone of any society. At this so-called ‘three-nines’ reliability level of 99.9%, any device could expect to not be able to connect to the internet for about 10 minutes per week. Remember that this is a minimum standard and in real terms, a connection may be significantly more reliable than this.0 Comments
Global Emergency Number
There should be one telephone number set aside worldwide to serve as an emergency telephone number that any person could call 24 hours a day to contact their local emergency police, ambulance, fire, or other emergency personnel. Emergencies would be defined as any looming real or potential threat to life or property.
Global Non-Emergency Number
There should also be one telephone number (and website) set aside worldwide to serve as a non-emergency telephone number that any person could call for purposes of reporting any non-emergency information to authorities. Mainly, this number would be used to communicate to governments information needed in order to rectify problems which negatively impact the safety, wellbeing, and comforts of civil society. Example, would be to inform on dysfunctional infrastructures (street light outages, existence of potholes, etc.), graffiti or litter in need of cleanup, abandoned vehicles, noise complaints, etc. Informants could also use this number to provide authorities with the necessary information to capture criminals involved in past criminal activities.
Perhaps this non-emergency number could also act as a central directory (preferably with live people) capable of answering all kinds of diverse government related questions concerning the operating hours of various departments, telephone numbers to city services, inquiries about who their elected representatives may be and their contact information, general information about building permit requirements and about virtually anything related to any level of government (city, county, state, county, and maybe even international).0 Comments
To introduce a permanent period of stability in telephone number assignments without requiring customers to change their telephone numbers or even to dial additional digits (other than their existing country and area codes), some structural changes would need to be made, especially by the phone companies.
Pressing “Send” Required
First, it should be required that telephone users press a “send” button (as required for cell phones) in order to signal to the phone company that dialing has been competed and to forward the call. Currently assigned telephone numbers would remain the same. However, if the phone company finds it too difficult or expensive to use the new infrastructure required by these changes to allow customers to reach the people they are calling without dialing the country and area codes, the phone company may require these codes to be dialed as a standard practice for all calls, even local calls. Because users would be required to press the ‘send’ button to forward each call, the telephone company would know when the user has finished dialing all the numbers necessary to reach the intended party. Thus, there would be no need to reserve certain numbers like 911, 411, etc., because unless the user pressed the “send” button right after dialing these digits, the phone company would know that these numbers are just the first part of a longer sequence of numbers. This alone would result in several tens of thousands of new numbers becoming available.
Increase (or Variate) Number of Dialed Digits
Again, after the necessary infrastructures have been set up by the phone companies, they could start issuing 12 digit numbers which itself has a maximum capacity of one trillion possible numbers. Though this would obviously permanently solve our problems of ever running out of numbers worldwide (including consideration for the increased use of the Internet for communications), many people may not want to dial twelve numbers, though it would only be one more digit when compared to our current system of eleven digits when the country and area codes are factored in.
Fortunately, because of the “send” button, telephone numbers could be of any length from one digit to twelve or more digits, again, once the telephone companies’ infrastructures support these types of numbers. The capacity of 10 digit numbers is ten billion, while the capacity of 9 digit numbers is ten times less, one billion. It would be theoretically possible to have one digit telephone numbers.
Non-Standard Length Objections Resolved
The most common objection may be that telephone numbers of different lengths could be confusing because people may not be certain that they have all the necessary digits required to call the party they have in mind, whereas today everyone knows that seven digits must be dialed as well as area codes if necessary. Though this is a valid objection, it is the same kind of problem that exists with reference to e-mail addresses which are not of standard lengths. Over time people will just get used to the new system.
All in all, these proposed change would result in a maximum of over an additional 1.1 trillion different telephone numbers worldwide. That’s over 120 different numbers for each person on the planet today. If we need more, we could just start implementing 13 or more digit dialing or include alphabetical and other characters.
Perhaps a future evolution of the telephone system would include alphabetical letters so that instead of punching in numbers on a keypad, people could actually type in the name of the person they want to call. This would simplify life by requiring the memorization or utilization of one less piece of information. Alphanumerical combinations could also be possible.
Another option would be to add a letter at the front or end of a telephone number such as H for home, W for work, C for cellular, etc. Such a telephone number may look like H-1-310-123-4567. Capacity may be increased so much in some areas that even the requirement to dial the area code could be eliminated. This would allow one main phone number to serve many different devices. (Main idea from Bruce M. Gale, L.A. Times 6-15-99)0 Comments
When people are put on hold on the telephone and waiting for their call to be answered they should be told how many other people have also been placed on hold ahead of them and waiting in the same line. Then, no more often than once per minute or whenever the caller reaches a significant number in the countdown such as multiples of 100 or 10 and when they are the very next or within the next five calls to be answered they should be told what number they are in the holding line and an estimate of the amount of time they must continue to hold to get their call answered. This countdown should continue until their call is answered.
Also, when people are placed on hold, they should hear a message that tells them when both the least and most busy times are to call. This type of statistical information could be given for every hour of the day, and for every day of the week. For example, the message would say that the expected wait time for a 9 AM call today is 5 minute, and for a 10 AM call today, it would be 15 minutes. Messages could also say that Mondays are usually the busiest times and Thursdays are the least busy.0 Comments
In the United States, nobody using an automated telephone menu or any other media should ever be actively required to do something, including pressing a button, to select English as their preferred language in which to conduct the transaction or otherwise communicate. It should always be the people who choose a language other than English who should be required to actually do something, like Press 2 for Spanish, 3 for French, etc. In other words, the default language should always be English. Only if someone actively requests a different language should such a request be honored.
English should automatically be the default language because it should be the default language and because most users of the average service would prefer English anyway. More than that, it should always be the responsibility of the immigrants (or anybody who does not prefer to use English) to request a special accommodation. Ideally, even mentioning the availability of languages other than English should be done in English. It’s not that hard for foreign language speakers to learn to understand an instruction to “Press 2 for Spanish”.
Welcoming messages over the telephone or any other medium should never be heard in any other language until a selection is made for those other languages. Then, once the user has made a selection for a particular language, the telephone system should never again ask for a language preference throughout the duration of the call. Business telephone systems should have the ability to tag every call with information about the caller’s language preference, and keep this information thorough any transfers to other parts of the system.0 Comments