ICB Toll Free (800/888) News by: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News
Friday March 13 1998 at 09:11:29 AM EST

1 800 GO GEROW

Attorney Charlie Gerow is a GOP candidate for Congress who is a strong believer in the free market power of vanity toll free numbers. In 1996, Gerow. s campaign bought 1-800-GO-GEROW, and has used the number successfully in both races.

New York, NY US - (ICB TOLL FREE NEWS) Charlie Gerow is an attorney from Mechanicsburg, PA who is a GOP candidate for Congress from the 19th congressional district of Pennsylvania. In the 1996 primary, Mr. Gerow, with a small budget, came within a hair of defeating a 22-year republican incumbent, Bill Goodling. This year Gerow is in a closely watched (and better funded) May rematch with Bill Goodling.

Mr. Gerow. s race should be of major interest to the telecom industry. Gerow. s background doing legal work for both a major Bell operating company, and vanity number consultants, put him in a unique position of having firsthand knowledge of, and being a proponent for, toll-free user issues, both service provider and user.

Mr. Gerow is a strong believer in the free market power of vanity toll free numbers. In 1996 Gerow. s campaign bought 1-800-GO-GEROW and has used the number successfully in both races.

Gerow recently gave ICB the following interview:

ICB: What would you say is your general view of federal telecom and internet regulation?

Gerow: As with most federal regulations, less is better. The development of the internet is a great vision for all regulators to ponder. The internet has had explosive growth worldwide, created new companies and millions of new jobs in great part because of a mostly unregulated free market. Generally I support government staying out of the way. Telecom regulation is behind the curve in letting a global telecom free marketplace of ideas and products flourish the same way that the internet has.

ICB: How would you respond to those who say that regulators need more power and more regulations to fight fraud?

Gerow: I would simply say that fraud is already against the law. Everyday prosecutors go to court with fraud cases. Fraud is a crime and it doesn't matter whether it is done by telephone, internet, US mail, private express mail, wire or in person. If anybody needs more resources, it. s not regulators, it. s law enforcement -- so they can enforce existing laws.

ICB: What is your position regarding rights of 800 number holders to their 888, 877 or future toll free exchanges?

Gerow: Anti-free market regulators have created a fiasco with new toll free exchanges. I believe that if an open free market to buy and sell 800 numbers had been allowed to flourish, holders of 800 numbers that had only a few dollars of use per month could have openly sold their 800 number asset to the highest bidder. That way, there would never have been a shortage in the first place. 800 and 888 numbers should be a separate domain like .com or .net on the internet. Both 800 and 888 use should be only given out for business, government and non-profit voice, data or fax applications. If individuals need toll free numbers for personal uses like paging, voice or fax, they should use the new 877 or other upcoming toll free exchanges. Establishing toll free domains is clearly the answer to fixing what regulators broke.

As far as property replication rights of 800 holders to corresponding 888 number, again it could have been handled better. First they asked firms to identify and request 888 replication of their high value 800 numbers. Government then had the list of numbers, many with high value vanity 800 branding applications like 1-800-FLOWERS. Political leaders of both parties suggested soon after the replication list was in hand that the government should pull the rug out from those firms -- and auction off the numbers they requested to be replicated to the highest bidder. Fortunately, no auction took place and no firm had to buy what regulators led them to believe were already reserved numbers. I want the government to keep its promise and release 888 numbers held in the replication pool if the 800 holder who requested its replication so desires. If the firm no longer wants the number they can turn it off and send it to the available pool.

We can totally avoid the problem in the future by giving 800 and 888 holders a 90 day first right of refusal. This would allow firms to protect their 800 brand and replicate their firm. s high value numbers in any new toll free exchanges. If a firm fails to request replication on a number it needs, they should be free to try to buy it from the party it was assigned to.

ICB: If you are elected what will be your main focus?

Gerow: I strongly believe in deregulation and getting power back to the state and local government. I will work on that agenda in everything from Telecom regulation to education reform. The IRS presents a huge opportunity for reform. Abolishing the current Internal Revenue Code and replacing it with a simpler, fairer and flatter tax would be great for the economy.

ICB: How is your race looking as the May 19 GOP primary gets closer?

Gerow: I am confident my mother will be talking about her son the congressman next January. Fortunately the 19th is a heavily GOP district -- so in effect the primary is the only real race for the seat. In '96, with a small budget, we lost in a squeaker. This time our race is very simple -- if we can raise the money to finance our larger budget, we will win. Like many congressional races, this one will be decided by how much money the challenger can raise to get their message out. Challengers have to overcome the incumbent. s advantage of being able to use government money for mass mailings. Also, all contributions are limited to $1,000 from individual U.S. citizens; and nearly all of the PAC money goes to incumbents.

ICB: How can anyone who wants more information contact you?

Gerow: People can reach me at:

Snail mail: P.O. Box 2001 York, Pa. 17405 Toll Free: 1-800-GO-GEROW email: crgerow@aol.com fax: 717-737-1932

Author/Correspondent's Profile: Judith Oppenheimer, Publisher, ICB Toll Free (800/888) News

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