Thursday, July 14, 2016

FCC Says Telcos No Longer "Dominant," in One Sense

In something of milestone ruling, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has said, as part of a decision on decommissioning of old time division multiplex networks, that local voice providers “are no longer dominant in the market for connecting local callers to long-distance networks.

That still is not a full fuling that local telcos are no longer dominantfor other purposes, but it is a step in what some would say is the right direction. It seems only a matter of time before the whole notion of “dominant providers,” and the special restraints placed on them, are reduced.
Cable TV companies arguably already have displaced telcos as the “dominant” suppliers of high speed Internet access while mobile service has displaced landlines as the “dominant” way people use voice and messaging.

“The increasing popularity of mobile wireless, cable Voice over IP services and regulatory changes combined to erode the dominant position of local carriers in the market for interstate switched access,” the FCC noted.

The other helpful decision, from a telecom industry viewpoint, is that the new rules streamline the process of ending  legacy TDM-based voice service and supplying such services on a next-generation network, in as few as 30 days.

Applicants must show that:
  • network performance, reliability and coverage is substantially unchanged for customers
  • access to 911, cybersecurity and access for people with disabilities meets current rules and standards is proven
  • Compatibility with a defined list of legacy services still popular with consumers and small businesses, including home security systems, medical monitoring devices, credit card readers and fax machines, subject to sunset in 2025, is assured.

Ironically, some would note, even as pressure mounts for building of new next-generation optical fiber networks, some still insist that legacy TDM networks--and legacy services--be maintained as well.

To the extent that operating two ubiquitous networks, where one network has fewer and fewer customers, raises operating costs and wastes capital investments, the older networks should be retired faster, not slower.

Yes, there are some consumer effects when a legacy network is terminated. But we have experience wiith such things. First generation netwoerks were shut off in favor of second generation networks.

Those 2G networks, in turn, will be shut off in favor of 3G. Consumers need time to migrate, but there alwys is some disruption, at the margin. Such disruption is no reason to delay the transition process any more than absolutely necessary.

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