10-10-220, etc. internet on airplanes

I have two questions?
We have so many of these stinken numbers it just creates confusion ultimately more
than convenience…
10-10-321, 10-10-9000, there must be something better than this you think?

How come we can’t surf the internet on
airplanes I mean we can now check e-mail,
news headlines, stock information, etc.
using phones from GTE?

A lot of people would say that confusion was the purpose of the numbers. A lot of the 10-10-xxx numbers are run by the big long distance companies (MCI, ATT, Sprint, etc.). The more confused you are the more likely you are to stick with one of them.

Bandwidth and modem speed. Plain text (e-mail, headlines, stock quotes represent a small amount of data when compared to the graphical content of the web. Turn of graphics in your browser sometime and see how much faster it runs. You might be able to accomplish web browsing in text mode over a skyphone but graphics would take forever to load.

“You can’t run away forever; but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start.” — Jim Steinman

Dennis Matheson — Dennis@mountaindiver.com
Hike, Dive, Ski, Climb — www.mountaindiver.com

I don’t remember the exact year, but when companies like Sprint first arrived (probably 10-15 years ago), the procedure to make long distance calls was:

  1. Dial the local Sprint number (seven digits).
  2. Enter a numeric password (I think this was also about seven digits).
  3. Dial the area code and number (ten digits).

Total: 24 digits. I always thought it was fairly silly, but people signed up in droves. I also think that 10-10-5566 + 1 + the area code and number is a little silly, but it’s a big step forward …


The reason is because there’s a phenomenal amount of money to be made in telecommunications, and because of the legal situation that the US Government foisted upon AT&T, pretty much anyone can step up to claim their share of the pie and AT&T has to play nice with them.

It’s informative to look at a map of trunk lines. You rapidly realize that with few exceptions (Sprint and MCI have some lines but, last time I saw a map, nowhere near a nationwide network, and there were a few other minor local players), anyone selling long distance service is buying it “in bulk” from someone else (usually AT&T) and reselling it to you.

Telecommunications is an area with a high Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt factor. In the past couple of years alone, I’ve heard of companies that:

Register a name which SOUNDS like one of the Big Three, so that their operators can “mishear” your long distance preference and route you via their network when calling from a pay phone (at exorbitant rates, natch);

Register names that aren’t really names per se, but phrases that a person might give in response to the question “What long distance company would you like to use?” such as “Oh, it really doesn’t matter”, again so that their operators can route you via their network and then blame you for requesting it if you complain;

Use confusingly worded contest entry forms as authorization to switch your long distance provider to their own network;

Switch you without any authorization whatsoever and hope you won’t notice and/or complain (“slamming”);

Register names which are extremely generic so that the immediately preceding two tactics are not as glaringly obvious on your itemized long distance bill;

Attempt to submit spurious charges through your local telephone billing agency (“cramming”) and hope you don’t notice or complain.

I know for a fact 10-10-220 is a stinking ripoff brought to us by the folks at MCI Worldcom. What they NEVER tell you is, if the lines owned by Telecom USA (a wholly owned subsidiary of MCI) are “busy,” your call will be routed through MCI lines, and you will be billed at MCI’s (already heinously expensive) highest rate for that call. “99 cents for 20 minutes” my ass.

I found this out quite by accident, having noticed MCI billings on my phone bill (I have AT&T as my LD carrier). Thinking I had been slammed, I called Ameritech (my local phone co.) to verify my AT&T status. “Yup. Still AT&T. Nope. Dunno why MCI billed you. Call them.”

I did. Got a big run around from 3 different people who kept asking me for my MCI account number, then when I explained I did not have one, they all said “WELL - how can we help you if you don’t have an MCI account?” Idiots. I told them I refused to pay the bill since they had no rightful claim to my money. They instructed me to “Mail us a copy of the bill.” I told them I was not mailing them anything (the NERVE of those people) and they could sue me if they liked.

I called Ameritech back and told them what had transpired, and they deleted the charges.
Ok, so far so good. (Realize that at this point I had NO idea why MCI was billing me for those calls).

Next month, the same thing happened.
Next month, again.

Finally, someone at Ameritech asked me if I was using any “10-10” numbers. I replied “Yes, 10-10-220.”

“Well, that’s owned by MCI and they reroute your call if the Telecom lines are full. No, they never tell you that. No, there is nothing we can do about it. Yes sir, I’ll delete those charges.”

Three months free LD so far. Who’s defrauding who?

It is amazing they could make such
phone calls as low 99 cents, I mean
gee in this wacked out age of the 90’s now way you will get a hot dog
off from a vendor for under a buck…
I am just wondering how the heck they
pulled it off?