Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt a framework guiding the technology transition from the legacy phone network to digital services, ensuring the transition is an upgrade for all Americans and not just an upgrade for some and a downgrade for others.
As I noted in my first post-Verizon v. FCC blog
post, the Net
Neutrality decision both dramatically expanded and dramatically limited the
FCC’s authority. This has a large number of immediate implications for the
FCC’s ability to conduct its work. While this ripples across just about every
area of FCC jurisdiction, it has its most immediate impact on the transition of
the phone system to all IP.
At a glance, the biggest losers are cable operators (except
Comcast), CLECs, and anyone else that wants mandatory interconnection or cares
about call completion. That means resolving the rural call completion problem
just became harder, since VOIP providers cannot, now, be subject to the duty to
complete calls. The most recent FCC Order, which imposes reporting
requirements is still OK. But the original declaratory ruling requiring
IP-based providers to actually complete calls is probably a dead letter.
On the other hand, the decision potentially empowers the state
Public Utility Commissions (“PUCs”), or gives the FCC power to delegate to
state PUCs, the ability to override the laws passed in 27 states that prohibit
any regulation of IP based services, and to override limits on municipal
Today marks the 100th anniversary of an agreement called the Kingsbury Commitment that embodied some of the most fundamental principles that underly our communications networks.
In honor of its 100th anniversary, it's worth pausing to remember how the Kingsbury Commitment set a national goal to ensure interconnection and provide at least basic telephone service to all Americans. Our country has not wavered from that fundamental commitment since. As we now move into new IP-based phone networks and communications infrastructure, we must hold fast to this commitment to make sure no one is left behind in the phone network transition.
What Is The Kingsbury Commitment?
The Kingsbury Commitment is a deal struck in 1913 between American Telegraph & Telephone (now AT&T) and the Department of Justice, settling an antitrust investigation into AT&T's market power, especially over long-distance phone service.
Yesterday we recapped the transition of the phone network thus far and touched on what to expect. Today we discuss the technical trials and what happens next.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, a “wire center”
is the place where all the wires for telecommunications service in a specific
area come together. That’s not just all the residential subscribers on the
AT&T system. It’s the place where AT&T exchanges traffic with the other
providers (such as the local cable operator and whoever offers cell service),
the 9-1-1 access point, and the source of “special
access” circuits for enterprise customers and other carriers.