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TUCoPS :: Phreaking General Information :: eqauto.txt

Equal Access and the modem autodialer

               Equal Access and Modem Autodialers by Shadow 2600

    Now that AT&T is being divested of its local telephone companies, phone
customers across the nation have to choose their long distance carrier as equal
access is phased in.  Advertising campaigns emphasize such aspects as low rates
and operator assistance, but no one mentions a factor that will affect modem
users who use auto dialers for long distance calls.  Not all of the alternate
long distance carriers provide called party answering supervision on all calls.
Called party answering supervision basically has the telephone company start
billing only when the called party answers the telephone.  However, many of the
alternate long distance companies still operate with the "fixed timeout" basis
for charging.  That is, if a call is held for a fixed length of time (usually
30 seconds) the charging starts, whether or not the call was answered.  This
could cause modem owners large bills if they use autodialers to make long
distance calls.  Modems are usually set up to wait up to one minute when
attempting to make a call, and thus have to timeout through busy signals, long
call setup sequences, extender waits, and similar problems.  This could result
in many billed but never answered calls.

    Some of the other carriers provide it on calls to some cities, and others
not support it at all.  Only AT&T Communications provides called party
answering supervision on all calls to all points at this time.  It is almost
impossible to get information on how a long distance company charges its calls
as as they don't want to reveal how their billing is handled.  The alternate
carriers get called party supervision when the destination location goes equal
access.  However, there has been no quick action on the part of the alternate
long distance companies to make use of the supervision data as they would have
to get equipment for passing the information back to the billing computer at
the originating point.  Thus called party answering supervision information
often ends up being ignored by these carriers even when available.  Another
point to remember is that called party answering supervision's availability
depends on whether the destination has equal access, not the originating
location.  The lower long distance rates of alternate long distance rates must
be weighed against the time out problem as it affects autodialing modems.  One
way to circumvent this is merely to set your modem to a shorter
waiting-for-connect time, but this may not provide enough time for the call to
go through.  [For more information on this and other telecommunications topics
call the Private Sector BBS at (201) 366- 4431]

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