Late last week. the Federal Communications Commission issued a public notice seeking comments on proposed trials for evaluating the transition from legacy wireline networks to wireless; from copper networks to fiber networks; and from time-division multiplexing to Internet protocol. According to the FCC, seeking comments on the IP transition is necessary to ensure the agency issues sound policy that balances the public interest of delivering quality of service and ensuring public safety services while allowing carriers to profit from the enhanced services i.e. audio, video, etc., that can be provided via IP networks.
The FCC believes voice-over-Internet interconnection should be more efficient and “has the potential to unleash new, innovative services and features.”
The FCC is less certain as to when the benefits of next generation 911 services would be seen as an IP transition takes place.
The FCC also wants to address the issue surrounding one provider’s proposal to test a transition from wireline services to wireless services. The FCC would like comments on the consumer quality of service experience with wireless-only service and a consumer’s ability to go back to a wireline service upon conclusion of the test.
AT&T, while applauding the public notice as a “step forward”, expressed its disappointment at how tentative the FCC is approaching the IP transition especially given its national broadband plan goals.
I particularly share AT&T’s concern about how the FCC’s delay in implementing trials much less issuing this public notice may impact the flow of capital and investment. Foot dragging creates uncertainty. Given the interstate commerce nature of the transition, waiting on the opinions of more than fifty states, territories, and Tribes only serves to impede progress.
As media companies and e-commerce sites seek to go mobile with their apps and services, the demand for a well thought out but quick transfer to IP networks becomes the more exigent.