Pics: How they fix mobile phone towers

How do they fix or upgrade a mobile phone tower? With a very big crane, that’s how.

It wouldn’t be a job for someone with a fear of heights.

Fixing a mobile phone tower (1/2)

Fixing a mobile phone tower (2/2)

In my family, my sister gave up her landline when she moved last year, and in her household now relies totally on mobile phones for making calls (plus naked DSL for internet). My mum has (without moving) just switched from landline to mobile as well. I moved to VOIP at home plus mobile earlier this year — it’s been pretty good, though occasionally the modem needs rebooting.

We’ve all given up the landline due to costs, and needing to have a mobile anyway. Are others doing the same?

Where’s my phone? (New levels of dopiness)

Need to leave. Where’s my phone?

Not on the counter. Not on my bedside table. Not on the desk. Not on the kitchen table. Not on the dresser. Not on the couch.

Look again in all those places. Not found.

Really need to go.

Reach for home phone. Dial mobile number. It rings.

It’s in my pocket. Oh man. Not good.

* * *

Later…

Oh. My mobile says a missed call. From a private number.

No voicemail was left. Why do these people not leave a voicemail so I can ring them back?

Oh, wait…

It was me.

Are mobile phones the new cigarettes?

Fifty years ago the people waiting on this bench might have been smoking — now they’re all fiddling with their phones.

Ripponlea station

It’s long been thought that mobile phones might be replacing cigarettes:

Teenagers may be getting healthier because mobile phones are replacing cigarettes as a symbol of rebellion and fashion.

Clive Bates, Ash director, suggested that the need to stay in fashion by owning a phone may mean less money is available to pay for cigarettes.

— BBC, November 2000

This Age article from 2005 suggested the same thing.

I’m pondering other links:

Phones, like cigarettes, give you something to do with your hands, something to fiddle with.

Phones, like cigarettes, are social. Instead of standing around in doorways chatting to fellow smokers, you’re talking to your friends via social media — wherever they are.

Phones, like cigarettes, can be invasive if used thoughtlessly in a group of people (though having to listen to someone’s boring conversation is less unhealthy and unpleasant than secondhand smoke).

I’d love to reach some profound conclusion here, but that’s all I’ve got. Thoughts?

Telstra brochure from 1997 explains new-fangled “text messages”

Clearing out some old books, I found this from 1997. It’s a Telstra brochure explaining a new product they’re introducing: the “SMS Text Message Service.”

Front cover:
Telstra brochure explaining text messages: page 1

Middle pages:
Telstra brochure explaining text messages: pages 2-3

Back page:
Telstra brochure explaining text messages: page 4

Everything was new once upon a time, right?

From the brochure (and this matches my recollection), initially messages could not be sent between operators. This didn’t come until April 2000, and predictably resulted in exponential growth in messages sent.

The prepaid phone saga

Predictive textA while back I gave eldest son my old (but quite capable) mobile phone, and got him a SIM card that looked to be a reasonable cheap basic prepaid phone service: Woolworths Everyday Mobile.

This worked fine until early October when the phone stopped working.

Or to be precise, the SIM stopped working. We tried the usual stuff: turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, trying a different SIM in the phone. It was clear the SIM didn’t work.

I should note that this company has all its Call Centre people in Australia. While in an ideal world this shouldn’t make a difference, of course in reality it can. But in this case there was no issue with communications problems due to bad phone lines and people struggling to understand each other.

So on Sunday 9/10, I rang them up. Of course the gatekeepers to the real technical support staff tried to deflect me, only letting me get through after I had explained that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone.

They said they’d check some things on their end, give me a call back within two days.

No call back, so on Thursday 13/10, I rang back. Once again I had to explain that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone. They said nobody from technical support was available, because it was after 8:30pm. I said I’d ring back the next day.

I rang back on Friday 14/10 at lunchtime. Explained that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone. They said the relevant person isn’t available, but they would ring or email back later in day.

Yeah. Sure they would.

Nothing, of course, so just after 6pm I rang back. Explained that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone. They said the relevant person isn’t available, and apologised that I hadn’t been contacted.

And a key bit of information finally came to light: I already knew the service is closing down and being replaced by a different Woolworths mobile phone service. What I didn’t know was that this will be run by a different company. (It’s clear now that these operations are effectively franchise users of the Woolworths name). For this reason the lady said they were having problems simply sending out a new SIM.

I asked for a refund. She said she couldn’t do that. She said it would be referred to their IT group, and someone would ring the next day to discuss other options.

Well if you can’t provide the service, and you won’t give me a refund, what other options are there that don’t involve me being ripped-off? I was suddenly grateful that there was only $20 credit on the account.

But it sounded like this miracle-working IT group might be able to wangle another SIM.

Needless to say, there was no phone call back the next day.

Rang back again on Sunday 16/10. Explained yet again that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone. Also explained that I had originally rung them a week before, and nothing had happened.

They said — unbelievably — that the original problem had never been referred to IT.

I was pretty narky at this point, emphasising that it wasn’t this particular guy’s fault, but asking how it was possible that after such a long period of them being unable to provide me a service, nothing had been done to resolve it.

The guy was very apologetic, and assured me things would happen.

At about 4:15pm on Tuesday 18/10, they actually rang me. Wow. An actual call back. For once I didn’t have to explain again that we had tried turning the phone off then on again, trying the SIM in a different phone, and trying a different SIM in the phone. They already knew I needed a replacement SIM. And they said they did have some spares, and they’d be sending one out Express Post to me straight away.

Friday 21/10, a new SIM arrived in plain brown envelope. The letter is dated 18/10, but it very clearly did not go via Express Post. Luckily however it works fine.

The conclusion from all this is: steer clear of Woolworths’ mobile phone operation. It works fine as long as everything goes smoothly, but if you have a problem, even accounting for the fact that they are closing down, it’s very difficult to get them to take action. OK, maybe their replacement service will be better, but I’d not be willing to take that risk again.

Thankfully the phone’s new owner has been very patient throughout this saga.

The postscript

I knew before the first call that Everyday Mobile were closing down, and wondered if they would end up giving me a refund. Either way, knowing we’d have to port off them by early next year, I took the opportunity to order a new SIM from another provider. I looked around for a bit and for some unknown reason, decided I liked the look of Amaysim. So on 13/10 I ordered a SIM from them through their web site, with some credit on it.

To this day, that SIM has not arrived.

On Sunday I emailed them to ask them where it was. They got back to me on Tuesday to apologise and say their system messed up on my delivery address (odd, it’s a fairly conventional post office box, no weirdness like apostrophes) and it should now arrive in a few days.

Are all prepaid mobile companies like this?

I know they’d probably prefer to lock you into a contract on a postpaid plan, but surely they should be treating prepaid customers (many of whom spend considerable amounts of money) with better care.