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TUCoPS :: Phreaking Technical System Info :: tspshist.txt

History of TSPS/TOPS




Subject: History of TSPS/TOPS/OSPS
Date: Thu Jun  8 05:24:00 1995

When 1984 (so appropo' considering Orwell's year) came around, TSPS
operators who had previously been employees of the local Bell Op.Co's
were then employees of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (AT&T
Long Lines became AT&T Communications, too).

I'm not quite sure about the larger Indeps (GTE, etc) who had their
OWN toll switches and operator centers.  Some Indeps had TSPS (a
Western Electric standard) but the Indeps had GTE-Automatic Electric
manufacture TSPS.

Canada was PRIMARLIY TOPS (Traffic Operator Positions Systems), which
Northern Electric (Telecom) developed in the 1970's.  This was MORE
DIGITAL than TSPS and usually homed on a DMS switch.  Many Indie's in
the US also used TOPS.  The terminals were just like a computer
terminal and NOT designed like a TSPS board.  There is a video monitor
and a keyboard (alphanumeric).  However, the OPERATOR FUNCTIONS (KP,
KP card, KP back, POS-REL, T&C, INTL, etc.etc.etc.) were ALSO labelled
on the alphanumeric keys (along with the regular letters & numbers).

Sometime around 1986, AT&T here in Louisiana began adding video
monitors and keyboards to their TSPS positions.  This were a SEPARATE
operation, to search a database for NamePlace (NPA-NXX), Rate & Route,
Rates, Operator Codes, Numberings, etc.  They were NOT directly tied
in with the traditional TSPS.  Around Christmas 1986, local TV showed
how AT&T's operators were busy handling Holiday calling volume, and
you saw the traditional TSPS board along with the video monitor
suspended on a pole from the ceiling and the keyboard sitting on top
of the flat shelf directly in front of the operator.

One of the MFJ stipulations was that the local BOC's were going to
'take-back' operator services for local/inTRA-LATA calls.  The CBS
Evening News one nite in 1985 showed Seattle (Pac.NW Bell/USWest) with
the differences between 0 (InTRA-Lata Bell) and 00 (InTER-Lata via
AT&T or whatever carrier).  AT&T was still using TSPS while the local
Bells were unanimously going to NT's TOPS equipment.  Louisiana had
Bell taking back the '0' (for InTRA-Lata) in the Spring of 1986.  The
SCBell Operator could always transfer you over to AT&T, but AT&T
cannot transfer you back to Bell.  (Today, SCBell can also try to
transfer you over to MCI and Sprint and probably others, at the
customer's request).  From 1986 to 1989, AT&T could ALSO complete
calls within the LATA at the Bell Tarriffed rates, and Bell got all of
the revenue.

Around 1989/90, AT&T began to introduce OSPS (Operator Service
Positions Systems), a Western Electric manufacture, DIGITAL,
associated with #5ESS.  AT&T operators would NOT assist on InTRA-LATA
calls (unless tarriffed by the local body to do so).  You could NOT
place a 'sequence call' on your calling card within the LATA if the
original call was InTER-Lata via AT&T.  OSPS 'boards' look very much
like TOPS- a monitor and keyboard.

In September, 1991, the Louisiana PSC 'permitted' InTRA-LATA
competition.  Why I put this in quotes is that MCI, Sprint, etc.
ALWAYS completed InTRA-LATA calls when placed with fg.A or B access
using 950-XXXX or 1-800- numbers.  AT&T had ALWAYS respected Bell's
revenue/territory and since AT&T did not get any revenue on InTRA-LATA
calls but their operators were doing work, they discontinued
InTRA-LATA when they implemented OSPS. When InTRA-LATA competion was
then allowed, AT&T started completing calls again, and here in
Louisiana, their per-minute toll rates ARE NOTICEABLY LESS than Bell
(except on weekends/nites, where Bell is a penny cheaper per minute
than AT&T).

SHORTER DISTANCE Intralata (toll) points are OPTIONALLY available as an 
extended monthly package plan - similar to measured/metered rate and even 
some of these points are 'capped' as if it were monthly flat rate.  AT&T 
handled (such as calling card) calls which are in the TRADITIONAL LOCAL 
CALLING AREA are timed rate - Bell's card and opr.asstd.local rates are FLAT 
here in Louisiana - approx.88cents (63cent opr.assistance surcharge even 
tho' it can be fully automated, plus the quarter you WOULD have dropped in 
the payphone).  If you have several calls, mixed inTER-Lata, InTRA-LATA 
TOLL, and LOCAL to all be billed on a calling card, you should try to 
determine the rates BEFOREHAND, and probably NOT want to do a simple string 
of 'Sequence Calls'.

I'm NOT getting into private payphone situations in the above - we
know that they do NOT conform to traditional Bell System standards.

A FEW MORE POINTS - when you were connected to a TSPS operator, both
the caller AND the operator heard a 'zip' tone beep for a split second
- you do NOT hear that when the OSPS or TOPS operator answers - AND -
AT&T has been doing MAJOR consolidation of their Operator centers (the
Bells have done some too) - When I dial 00 from New Orleans, I started
to get TSPS or OSPS operators in Jackson MS or Memphis TN in 1989/90.
TODAY, I get AT&T operators in Atlanta, Florida, the Carolinas, and
Virginia (yes, I ask them where they are located), a different time
zone than mine, and if the OSPS opr.doesn't check our times, she HAS
quoted me the wrong rates such as when I have 7am and she has 8am - of
course, I know what the rates are approximatly and I usually say
'check-again ... I'm in the CENTRAL time zone'.

ALSO, when one dials (10(10)288)+00 (or AT&T's 800 access) today, you
first get the jingle and logo, followed by a recorded 'If you'd like
to place a call, please enter the Area Code and number now - If you
need Operator assistance, please say OPERATOR now' to which you can
also touch(DTMF) 0 or 0# or 00, to which you hear 'Please hold for an
operator'.  AS THE OPERATOR COMES ON THE LINE, most of the time, a
standard recording (usually female) states 'AT&T-How may I help you?'.
They do have a standard MALE recording, but sometimes the female voice
recording states the above, with a MALE operator on the line.
Sometimes the recording does NOT come in and the operator answers
LIVE.  I HATE THAT RECORDING and the waits and prompts - When I dial
00, I want to talk to a LIVE OPERATOR.  If I am making an automated
tupe of billed call, I will dial (10288)+0+ (and other code strings)

A LONG WAY AWAY FROM "NUMBER PLEASE"


MARK J. CUCCIA    PHONE/WRITE/WIRE:
WORK:     mcuccia@law.tulane.edu
UNiversity 5-5954,TEL(+1 504 865 5954)
UNiversity 5-5917,FAX(+1 504 865 5917)
HOME:             CHestnut 1-2497
4710 Wright Road | fwds.on busy/no-answr.to cellphone/voicemail
New Orleans 28  | (+1 504 241 2497)
Louisiana (70128) USA



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