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Windows 7: Porn Company Has Snatched Up 25% of 1-800 Numbers in U.S., Canada

19 Apr 2011   #1
Buddahfan

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Porn Company Has Snatched Up 25% of 1-800 Numbers in U.S., Canada

Quote:
NEW YORK For years, teenagers across the U.S. could call a toll-free hotline if they had embarrassing questions about AIDS and safe sex. Dial the same number now and you get a recording of giggling women offering to talk dirty to you......................

Records obtained by The Associated Press show that over the past 13 years, a little-known Philadelphia company called PrimeTel Communications has quietly gained control over nearly a quarter of all the 1-800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada, often by grabbing them the moment they are relinquished by previous users. As of March, it administered more 800 numbers than any other company, including Verizon and AT&T.

And many, if not most, of those 1.7 million numbers appear to be used for one thing: redirecting callers to a phone-sex service............

Founded in 1995, PrimeTel is one of around 400 companies registered as toll-free service providers for the U.S. and Canada. That gives it the same power to reserve and assign unused toll-free numbers as big phone companies with millions of customers. But PrimeTel appears to be amassing numbers predominantly for one closely related partner, National A-1.

There is nothing illegal about using toll-free phone services to promote adult entertainment, and callers aren't charged unless they supply their credit card information.

Over the years, though, PrimeTel has been hit with lawsuits and complaints alleging that it is violating federal rules banning toll-free service providers from hoarding digits. Federal Communications Commission rules say that "routing multiple toll-free numbers to a single toll-free subscriber" is usually considered hoarding..............

According to a database maintained by an industry organization, PrimeTel was listed as the administrator of record for at least 1,667,000 out of around 7.87 million active 800 numbers as of this March. Industry experts said PrimeTel also holds a dominant share of numbers with other toll-free codes, like 888 and 866, giving it several million numbers overall.

Sex isn't the only business. Some numbers reach advertisements for a mortgage brokerage based in New Jersey. Others promote a dieting website or a travel reservation service. Those instances appear to be outnumbered by ones in which callers reach a phone-sex solicitation.

Critics of the company say it isn't the sex that bothers them, but the acquisition of so many numbers....

The key to PrimeTel's business is its access to the entity that controls the assignment of toll-free numbers, called the 800 Service Management System. Numbers are available on a first-come, first-served basis at a cost of about 9.6 cents per month. When a customer is done using a number, it is supposed to go back into the pool for use by someone else.

FCC rules expressly ban service providers from reserving a number unless they have a genuine customer lined up to use it. Speculating in numbers is banned. They are considered public resources that may not be bought or sold. The big phone companies that supply toll-free numbers make their money not by selling the number itself but by providing telephone service.

But there are also companies that are illegally buying and selling the numbers, and they are a hot commodity, sometimes even available on eBay.

Such numbers are so highly sought-after that several companies have built powerful computer systems that search the database every day, looking for digits of potential value. Numbers can be reserved as quickly as 95 milliseconds after they are released by former users.

Helein said PrimeTel has been the target of complaints from other industry players who are "jealous" of the company's computer systems.
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