The race is on to make the U.S. an IP nation. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) put the plans in motion a few years back when it outlined the roadmap for the IP transition. While some may feel the timetable is a little long and others believe the agency is wielding too much power, the latest announcement that it has approved a test period for POTS replacement is a step in the right direction.
Softswitch providers are likely to get excited now that the FCC has paved the way for wireless and VoIP providers to demonstrate whether or not they have the infrastructure in place to offer a viable replacement for POTS. The circumstances under which these services will be provided are also under review.
The growing demand for softswitch and VoIP connectivity has been clearly identified in the U.S. over the last several years. Consumers flocked to lower priced options, preferring to take lower quality calls over networks provided by the likes of Vonage (News - Alert) in favor of higher landline bills. Large telcos have been fighting the shift, but now Verizon is all on board – there must be something profitable under the debate.
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Verizon’s (News - Alert) voice was as loud as its competitors for the last decade, telling consumers that VoIP was not a quality option for connecting calls or replacing POTS. Now that the message is changing, will consumers know which message to believe? Some will be offered the opportunity to try VoIP over their carrier networks as part of this trial, while new customers may be pushed to the service by default.
For rural users, who consistently battle poor bandwidth availability – if any – and the constant oversight by telcos, the idea that VoIP will be their only option is sure to cause concern. Subsidy money made available to expand high-speed connectivity and even fiber throughout rural areas will help, but not all the underserved will receive the access they need.
It’s a reality that in order for the IP transition to come to fruition, we must migrate away from the PSTN and copper and toward IP-based technologies. Karl Bode made this point known in the DSL Reports, highlighted in a recent Telecom TV post. AT&T (News - Alert) and Verizon have both refused to upgrade DSL lines and have leaned on the IP transition as protection in the move to eliminate consumer protection.
It appears both want the revenue from current clients and the ability to dominate the market with new technology without being accountable on either end. What vendor wouldn’t love such an arrangement, blessed by the very agency that monitors its activity? The only question is whether or not the IP transition will happen quickly enough and with enough “wow” factor to make consumers forget and push for inclusion in the new wave.
Edited by Alisen Downey