Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–April 7, 2014

Why Locating 911 Calls Is So Hard-And How To Make It Better
Last year, a report found that 55 percent of 911 calls made with a cell phone in California could, in fact, only be tracked to its nearest cell tower-possibly miles from the phone’s actual location. After that report caused understandable alarm, agencies from seven other states audited their calls to find similar blackouts, with up to two-thirds of 911 calls never tracked to a specific spot. Indoor 911 calls from a multi-story building are especially frustrating. In February, the FCC proposed rules requiring wireless phone companies to get better at locating indoor calls within five years. The companies responded by saying the technology was not available. Story by Sarah Zhang for Gizmodo

Cutting the Cord: Are Landlines Dead to Small Business?
Many consumers are dropping their landlines for cell phones and Internet-based phone lines to save some cash. For businesses, however, the decision isn’t quite as easy. Whether you’re a startup weighing your options for business phone systems, or an established business considering dumping your landline, money isn’t always everything. There are two primary alternatives to landline-based plain old telephone service (POTS): Voice over Internet Phones (VoIP) and cell phones. To help you decide whether it’s time to axe your landline, here are four factors to consider about VoIP and cell phones. Story by Sara Angeles for the Business News Daily.

A Number You Need to Have When Your Smartphone Gets Stolen
Consumer Reports says 1.6 million people had their smartphone stolen in 2012. If you were one of them, the cell phone industry has a message for you. It was your fault. Cell phone providers stubbornly refuse to provide an automatic, built-in kill switch that would make a phone useless if stolen. And a booming second-hand market has sprung up, from stores like Best Buy to ATM kiosks, which allow individuals to turn in a phone for instant cash. “It is a crime of convenience,” says state Sen. Mark Leno. “End the convenience. End the crime.” Leno has authored a bill which would require all new devices sold in California after Jan. 1, 2015, to have a built-in kill switch. The bill is getting the expected–if cynical–pushback from the phone industry. Story by C.W. Nevius for San Francisco Chronicle.

Google Weighs a Plunge into Mobile Phone Services
After thrusting itself into competition with U.S. cable operators, Google is inching closer to competing with wireless carriers, too. Google executives in recent months discussed their hope to offer a full-fledged wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service, according to two people who have discussed the matter with Google. Such an offering would mean Google customers in places like Kansas City could get voice and Internet access through their mobile devices wherever they go. Story by Amir Efrati for The Information.

Mobile Phone Usage May be Linked to Erectile Dysfunction
A new study has found a possible link between mobile phone usage and erectile dysfunction. Teams working in Austria and Egypt found that men carrying a switched-on mobile phone were far more likely to suffer from the condition, but stopped short of confirming a definite connection between the two. Story by Michael Moore for CBR Online.

EU Parliament Votes to Ban Mobile Roaming Charges
Members of the European Parliament have voted to ban roaming charges from 15 December 2015, as part of its wide-ranging telecoms reforms. Most mobile operators currently charge extra fees for using a mobile phone to call, send text messages or access the internet in another EU country. Roaming charges reportedly cost British travellers £112 million last year, and more than a quarter of Europeans switch their phones off for the duration of an overseas trip to avoid high roaming charges, according to a recent poll by the European Commission. Story by Sophie Curtis for The Telegraph.

Phone Attachment Linked with Mental Health Stress
Thinking about your mobile when you’re not using it, worrying about whether people can reach you and interrupting what you’re doing when you’re contacted on your phone are linked to increased depression and stress, according to a study involving an ECU researcher. The study of smart devices and mental health found depression and stress are more likely in people who have high “involvement” with mobile phones and tablets. This includes the extent to which people are aware of where their phone is at all times, use it for no reason or feel disconnected if they cannot access it. Story by Michelle Wheeler for Medical Xpress.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.