Today, the Federal Communications Commission’s Chairman Tom Wheeler announced that he is circulating two technology transitions proposals that would manage the technology upgrades of the nation’s communications network, ensuring all Americans have access to basic communications as network providers upgrade their technology.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, Vice President of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“Chairman Wheeler’s technology transition proposals clearly make certain that the transition of the nation’s communications network is not an upgrade for some and a downgrade for the rest of us. Access to communications networks is a basic necessity to participate in our global economy, connect to adequate education and health care, and call for help in times of emergency. These proposals will ensure that both consumers and network providers understand how to enact the tech transition in a way that leaves no one behind.
“Many of these protections are things we have taken for granted because they have always just worked. But recent weather emergencies and reports from consumers have shown an ongoing need for the FCC to ensure our 21st century networks meet basic expectations.
“Chairman Wheeler’s proposals take several important steps. First, they set an expectation that consumers can maintain access to essential communications during power outages. This expectation can no longer be taken for granted since new 21st century networks do not combine power with connectivity.
“Second, the Chairman’s proposals hold network providers accountable for communicating with consumers as they transition their network away from older copper lines. Consumers expect that their network is adequately maintained at all times. Too often we’ve heard stories of providers allowing old lines to degrade to force consumers to upgrade to a costlier service. This proposal will ensure that consumers have a reliable network at all stages of that transition.
“Third, the Chairman’s proposals preserve consumer access to competitive carriers. Competition is a core value of the FCC’s network compact and helps give consumers innovative choices and lower prices.
“Finally, the Chairman’s proposals set a path to create standards for services created to work on traditional copper networks making the transition as well. These are important services that impact Americans’ daily lives, such as medical alerts and home alarm systems, that consumers expect will continue to be accessible.”
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