She: Have you heard about the campaign?
He: The campaign? Sarah Palin’s started running already?
She: Not that campaign. This one. The one to take back the beep!
He: You’re not telling me that the coyote actually caught the Road Runner?!?
She: Will you be serious a minute?
He: I’ll try. But stand back. You might get burned.
She: Oh, stellar. Don’t you care that this is costing us money?
He: Tell it to get in line. We’re back in Hawai‘i, dear, if you’ll recall. The only thing that doesn’t cost an outrageous amount of money is the air we breathe. And I’m sure they’re working on that.
She: They’ve done it. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.
He: OK …
She: You know, when you leave a message on your cell phone …
He: Unless it’s absolutely necessary, I don’t. I call back later. But go on …
She: Well, when you do leave a message, you have to wait forever and listen to all this meaningless dialogue before you can actually leave the message. And you know who pays?
He: If you both have cell phones, the caller and the recipient. Just like everything else that happens on cell phones.
She: Do you have any idea how much the companies make while we’re waiting for those messages?
He: I’m sure I could run my lab for the rest of my career on a day’s worth. And we won’t even talk about the one-fifth of us who survive on a dollar a day.
She: That’s about right. The take for just one company is estimated to be about US$620 million a year. Which is why this New York Times fellow wants us to tell the phone companies to stop with the unnecessary, time-wasting messages already. Wants us to take back the beep.
He: Right. So the agent of one megacorporation is egging us on to volunteer our time so that we’ll take megaprofits out of some other megacorporation’s pockets and deposit them in his own? Sounds like it’s working, too. I’m not impressed.
She: You’re not?
He: Look. The whole cell phone thing has been a scam from the very beginning. The ridiculously high rates and charges. The extortionate long-term contracts. The poor sound quality. The dropped calls. The wide stretches of country where you still can’t get calls. Did We the People tell the scammers to stop gouging us, or they could stick their Nokias where the sun doesn’t shine? No, of course not. And now we’re complaining about a few seconds here and there? It’s a little damned little, and a lot damned late. You remember POTS?
She: You mean the ones I finally got out of storage for the kitchen?
He: Not those pots. These POTS. Plain Old Telephone Service. Universally available, efficient, and above all cheap. Unless you needed to call Egypt or something. The regulators pretty much made sure that We the People could afford to talk on the phone. There’s no reason why cell phones couldn’t have been developed under this system. Except one.
She: Which was?
He: What else? The moguls declared that they wouldn’t pursue technologies like cell phones unless they could make enough money off them to finance their yachts. Deregulate or else, they said. And we, like fools, said OK.
She: We’re getting some of this back now, aren’t we?
He: Y’think? This Pogue fellow got one thing absolutely right. ARPU. Average Revenue Per User. The “leave a message” trick is just one sneaky way that the companies have to get us to spend more money on our phones. You don’t think they’ve got a million more up their sleeves? So many that they could afford to let Pogue beat down on this one? “Hey, we beat the phone companies! Yay!” And meanwhile they’re implementing ARPU plans J, Q, and ZZ. They don’t get their money this way, they’ll get it some other way. They’ll have to.
She: They’ll have to?
He: Yeah. Because otherwise, We the People who own their stocks will dump them faster than you can say “dropped call”. And the moguls will all have to sell the yachts that we shouldn’t have let them have in the first place to the Sheik of Araby.
She: But what do we do now?
He: We should have thought about that a long time ago. Now, all we can do is the best we can.
– O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.