VIEWPOINT

Flashback to 1987. Walrus moustache twitching, the editor stormed down the hall to the MIS director’s office, shouting, “Get this $#@#!* thing out of my office!” The `thing’ was a fancy new computer that did many more things than the old one, but none easily.

The same computer the MIS guy said I couldn’t work because I’m a Ms. not a Mr.

Boy, did I get a good last laugh.

Fast forward to 1997, and even the most advanced computers have their intelligence internalized to make their use simple. The same cannot be said for wireless telecommunications.

“Right now, you need a suitcase to carry around all your wireless devices,” said Chuck Poderas, vice president of sales for enVia, a Menlo Park, Calif., computer applications company.

“So far, by and large, corporations around the world pay no attention to the customer; [instead], they are lulled by the lure of technology,” said Peter Georgescu, chief executive officer of Young and Rubicam. The advertising agency has spent $20 million developing a database on consumer attitudes toward brands of products, including telecommunications services.

I’m not an early adopter, but I am always on the lookout for the better mousetrap. And as a woman, let’s face it, I make the major purchasing decisions in my household. I’m also in a desirable age, educational and income bracket from a marketer’s standpoint.

I’m not from Missouri, but I have adopted the state’s motto, “Show me.”

What I want is wireline telephony walking, wireline telephony on wheels. Any latter-day imitator of wireline had better be better.

My wish list for wireless: One number anywhere, including on extension phones. Calling party pays. Automatic, instantaneous location for emergency calls. Clear, worldwide coverage anywhere, anytime using a single handset without gizmos that need insertion. One bill. Reasonable rates. Very long battery talk and standby time, and near universal recycling of spent batteries. A responsible industry response to radio-frequency radiation emissions concerns. Dedicated and sincere promotion by the industry of safe wireless handset use by drivers.

Sound like a tall order? Wireline either doesn’t have these problems or has addressed these concerns anywhere I’m likely to go, which is to many places. Don’t tell me what I need. Give me what I want, and you’re very likely to get a much better reception.

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