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Cellphone Courtesy Is Lacking

July 8, 2004

By Staff

Digital Manners

It's other people, almost all of them, who are rude. I don't do rude things.

So say cellphone users in recent surveys sponsored by AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and Sprint Corp. The polls found that pretty much everyone thinks that other people are sorely lacking in cellphone manners. Yet more than 95% think their own manners are just fine all or most of the time, according to the AT&T Wireless survey.

Sprint's survey found that 77% of respondents had been subjected to others' cellphone use in a public restroom. That study also found that 62% of those questioned are uncomfortable overhearing others discuss private business or personal matters. About 40% admit to discussing such things within earshot of others.

Blackberry and short-messaging addicts take note: 80% of Sprint's respondents said they consider it rude for a colleague to read or send messages during a business meeting. Doing it during a one-on-one conversation? That's so obviously rude that Sprint didn't even ask.

They may tell you they understand, but slightly more than half of Sprint's respondents resent it when someone interrupts an in-person conversation to take an incoming cellphone call.

By the way, the companies say July is cellphone courtesy month.

Waiting it out

As the jury deliberations drag on toward the end of their second week in the Adelphia Communications Corp. accounting fraud and corporate looting trial, frustration is mounting among the 50 or so journalists, lawyers and supporters of the defendants holding a verdict vigil in U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand's courtroom in lower Manhattan. Summer vacations have had to be postponed and work schedules revised. Every document request made by the jury is closely scrutinized for clues both for which way the panel is leaning and whether they may be getting close to a decision.

Among those in court every day is Doris Rigas, who is the wife of one of the four defendants, Adelphia founder John Rigas, and mother of two others, Timothy Rigas and Michael Rigas. Cathy Mulcahey, the wife of the fourth defendant, Adelphia's former assistant treasurer Michael Mulcahey, also attends regularly, as does Ellen Rigas Venetis, another Rigas family member who gained distinction during the trial because she was the recipient of a Christmas tree shipped to her on the Adelphia corporate jet. (She hasn't been charged with any crime.)

The defendants have been trying to make light of their situation, but sometimes these efforts fall flat. On Tuesday morning, Timothy Rigas tried to cheer up Michael Mulcahey and his wife who were reading magazines together outside the courtroom. "Is this as bad as having a baby?" he asked.

Mrs. Mulcahey replied: "The anticipation of this is worse."

Making History

On June 26, 1974, Sharon Buchanan, a cashier in a supermarket in Troy, Ohio, scanned a pack of Wrigley's chewing gum, making history as the first to use the bar code, or universal product code.

That pack of gum and her scanning device wound up at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington.

"When they started installing the new equipment, we knew it was important," said Ms. Buchanan. "But we had no idea just how far this bar code would go."

Thirty years later, the bar code, which eliminated the need for manual pricing and slashed checkout times at stores, is used in 23 industries, including grocery, retail, health care, transportation and technology. The bar code saves $17 billion annually in the U.S. retail industry alone, according to a 1999 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It became the platform for an international code, which is used in 141 countries.

To commemorate its launch, the Uniform Code Council Inc., the not-for-profit group that created the bar code, and Marsh Supermarkets Inc., the grocery chain that hosted the first scan, celebrated recently at the original Troy supermarket. Representatives from Marsh, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and the UCC, as well as Ms. Buchanan, were on hand.
"This bar code has become a real business icon," said Michael Di Yeso, president and chief operating officer of the UCC. "It gets better with age."

But it may not be around much longer, at least in its current form. Bar codes may, in fact, soon be eclipsed by new technology also developed by the UCC, a so-called wireless bar code that uses radio frequencies.

The Next Big Thing?

Telecommunications has had its share of next big things, but industry insiders think the newest incarnation -- Internet-based calling -- really is the next big thing.
In a poll at the Supercomm communications industry trade show, 91% of more than 1,000 respondents, some of whom could end up unemployed if they're right, said the Internet-calling revolution is already under way.

The biggest advantages to the technology, known as voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP, are that it's cheaper than conventional phone technology and has more features. Many also believe it can help put smaller upstart companies on a more even footing with industry giants.

But survey respondents are betting on the industry giants.

When asked which companies they think will lead the charge, only one upstart, Vonage Holdings Corp., made it into the top five along with AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., SBC Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp.

The survey, sponsored by Telephony Magazine and Spirent Communications, is due for release today. Spirent, based in Rockville, Md., provides equipment and network testing and management to phone companies and equipment makers.

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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

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HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See for details.

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