[PLUG-TALK] Phone caller ID

Keith Lofstrom keithl at gate.kl-ic.com
Tue Feb 12 13:53:29 PST 2013

On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 11:36:31AM -0800, Denis Heidtmann wrote:
> I recently got a Tracfone cell phone.  When I call my landline (Comcast)
> from the cell phone the Caller ID says "Dawn Larson".  When I call a
> neighbor's landline (Century Link) the display says "Portland, OR"  When I
> call a third person's landline (unknown provider) it says "Wireless caller".
> I suspect that the two which do not display "Dawn Larson" are avoiding the
> pain of frequent ID updating and are using some default ID.  I have
> contacted Tracfone numerous times.  That I am posting this question here
> should show that the contacts with Tracfone have been less than
> satisfactory.
> How long does it typically take to get this done?  The phone was activated
> 5 days ago.  Is there anything which I might do to help the process along?
>  (My searching leads me to believe that in this case Tracfone is using ATT.)

The CLID system is archaic.  To save bandwidth back when it cost
something, they send only the phone number with the call.  At
the central office switch connected to the recipient's phone,
the switch looks up the number in an on-site database, and sends
the recipient the CLID information that it finds in local storage.

The databases used to be updated by sending 9 track tapes around
the country.  Perhaps some still are.  In any case, all the phone
companies build CLID databases of all their subscribers, send them
to all the other phone companies, which assemble the files into 
master data files, sending those to all their thousands of central
offices.  There, some tape monkey might or might not get around
to installing them, or accidentally overwrites them, or whatever.  

My wife moved her office in CenturySlink land 18 months ago, and we
are still watching the callerID here in FrontEar shift between her
business name, her personal name, and "Out of Area" month by month.

In summary, CLID is a barfogenic kludge.  It could take months
for everybody to get the new data, and then it is just as likely
that some will lose it again, until the next update.

Rejoice - - - this is just that much more incentive to replace
POTS (and $$$ texting) with multiple, competing internet-based
alternatives.  The "natural price" of voice telephone is a few
pennies a month, and when the right technologies appear, POTS
will be gone a year or two after. 


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993

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