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Caller ID arrives on T-Mobile phones, old school style

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Knowing who’s calling your mobile phone before you take the call is great, right up until you get a call from someone not in your contact list. T-Mobile customers on selected smartphones now have the option of true caller ID functionality with the Name ID service, powered by Cequint. The Samsung Exhibit 4G and myTouch 4G Slide are the first two handsets supporting Name ID. The service begins as a 10-day free trial, but then requires a monthly of fee of $3.99 for ongoing use of Name ID.

Since the younger generation may not know how caller ID services work, or what life in the telecom world was before it, here’s a short summary of the solution. Cequint is a subsidiary of Transaction Network Services (s tns), which manages an operator-validated database of phone numbers. Upon an incoming call, the Name ID service quickly accesses the caller data through TNS and then displays the name, city and state along with the incoming phone number. If the caller already exists in the contact list or address book on the handset, the locally stored call information appears as normal. Name ID does allow customers to save the contact information received by the service, so it’s easy to add new contacts based on incoming calls.

Cequint is banking on the fact that when Caller ID services rolled out to landlines, nearly 80 percent of all telephone lines opted for the useful service. I remember when Caller ID arrived back in the day and yes, it did seem like everyone I knew had the service. While such call screen techniques will likely always be wanted, I don’t see the same high adoption rate for Name ID on smartphones, although some are sure to add it. We’ve become a more mobile society and one of the necessary evils as a result is that we’re constantly connected and available to communicate.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for the new Name ID service. But as consumers get more savvy about what their smartphones can do, either through apps or configuration settings, they’ll likely opt for no-cost or one-time app fees over subscriptions for a service like this. Given that the first two supported handsets run the Android (s goog) operating system, the free Google Voice is a viable option for call screening. One Voice setting is specific to call screening and if Google doesn’t know who’s calling, it can ask the caller to announce their name so you can screen the call and decide what to do, for example.

Of course, not everyone knows about or is comfortable using Google Voice. In a case like that, Cequint’s Name ID on T-Mobile could find a following, even at $3.99 per month. The folks at Cequint also tell me that no amount of money will add in caller names from Verizon Wireless(s vz) customers as the operator doesn’t provide that data to the carrier-supported Caller ID database.

Image courtesy of Flickr user brianteutsch

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