3/29/2007

Cellular networks start associating names with numbers on caller-id...

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I was shocked and impressed by a technology that is more than three months old. I take pride in the fact that I am a product of the generation that will forever be the last to truly remember the days before caller-id, which seem so archaic in retrospect, but in fact remain only about a decade since implemented universally in both the cellular and fixed-line telephone networks. As long as I can remember, content displayed by a caller-id screen has remained relatively fixed in style and content. Calls placed from a fixed-line, or a landline, to another fixed-line generally contain both the number of the calls origin, as well as the corressponding White or Yellow Pages listing associated with that number, with exceptions usually only in the case of 1-800 and 900 hundred numbers and in the case that the person placing the call wishes to mask there identity. Calls made from cellphones to fixed-lines have always, at least everywhere and everytime I have witnessed caller-id in action, included the number of origin and a generic classification as a "cellular call".

Yesterday while working with my aunt she informed me that when I had called her work phone the previous day she was a bit taken aback to see that my name had been attached to my cellular signature and was displayed as if I had called from my home landline. Admittedly, having never seen or heard of such a caller-id service, I too was taken aback and remained unconvinced until I witnessed for myself how my phone call was displayed on the screen of the phone behind the counter at her store.

What was even more interesting however, was the confusion we experienced when my twin sisters, who are 14 year-old high school freshmen, and whom have long possessed cell phones registered in my mother's name and entirely unassociated from their identities, appeared with the their first initial followed by our last name, Edwards. If my mother does indeed remain the sole contractee in the agreement for there service packages with T-Mobile, how did they know my sister's initials? I haven't yet reached peace with this matter, as it seems clear that unless my mother, or my sisters, volunteered this information to T-Mobile and have subsequently forgotten, or their identities were discovered by monitoring the private services that go along with the phone upon purchase, such as voicemail, text messages and still from time-to-time old-fashioned telephone calls. Short of reviewing the bills my mother receives from T-Mobile on my sister's behalf, I see no practical or immediately apparent explanation for the inadvertant though accurate use of information such as this.



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