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Why Is Wireless Caller ID So Often Wrong?

By Jeff Kagan
Sep 24, 2018 10:35 AM PT
incorrect wireless caller id is a problem that can and should be fixed

I have a gripe with the way Caller ID works -- or in fact, increasingly doesn't work -- on wireless phones. I've noticed that most very stinking time I get a call on my wireless phone, the Caller ID information is wrong. Sometimes the number is correct, but the city is wrong. I say if this problem can be fixed, fix it. If not, get rid of it! What do you think?

When Caller ID was introduced a few decades ago, it was great. It started on the landline phone, either providing a name or number to give you a heads up as to who was calling. Fast-forward to the present. Today, when a call comes into our wireless phone, the information that appears on the screen is accurate only some of the time.

More often than not, what displays is a phone number, sometimes right and sometimes wrong, and a wrong city. New technologies -- mainly wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol -- have created chaos in this sector. In many cases, owners can gain control over what is displayed. When they can't, the information typically is wrong.

Place vs. Device

These days, we don't call a place -- we call a phone, no matter where it is.

As we use more wireless phones to make calls, or VoIP services, which route calls using the Internet, there is no physical address associated with our calls. Instead of calling a place, we are calling a phone, no matter where that phone is located.

The move from landlines to wireless is one contributing factor. Another is the control others have over what is shown on Caller ID. This problem started years ago and has steadily gotten worse.

This functionality is helpful to companies that are located in one area but want to give the impression they have local staff in areas around the country. I suppose we can live with that level of deception, although I'm not in favor of it. The problem is when this capability is used by bad guys to steal from us or worse.

This is a case of new technologies, like wireless and VoIP, screwing around with older technologies, like landlines and Caller ID. There needs to be a solution to this relatively simple problem, don't you think?

Wireless is growing and continuing to take us to new and grander places year after year. Wireless will continue to grow mixed with artificial intelligence and the cloud. Wireless and mobile and smartphones and tablets and all the other industries that use wireless to wow us with their advancements truly are amazing.

The wireless future is bright. However, with every step forward problems pop up that need to be fixed. This Caller ID problem is one of them.

Should Fixing Caller ID Be a High Priority?

Like you, I love wireless. I love the wireless industry. I follow wireless networks, mobile virtual network operators, smartphone and tablet makers, app makers, and many other companies that are coming up with advancements using wireless.

The wireless space is an incredible place to be. It's growing rapidly and expanding into other industries. Wireless is one of the hottest and most interesting technologies around for both the consumer and business user, and it will get hotter and more important going forward.

Yes, I know there are more important things to worry about than seeing the wrong Caller ID. However, this is 2018, and we are surrounded by a growing number of new technologies. Why can't we maintain control over wireless as we move forward?

Should consumers have to suffer the consequences when a new development screws up something old? We shouldn't have to take a darn step backward every time we take a step forward. So, let me ask you: Do you agree, or am I getting upset over nothing?

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.

Jeff Kagan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2010. His focus is on the wireless and telecom industries. He is an independent analyst, consultant and speaker. Email Jeff.

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