The State of Wireline is changing, but our values remain the same
The State of Wireline is changing, but our values remain the same
The State of Wireline is changing, but our values remain the same

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    Senators examine the opportunities and challenges posed by
    the transition of America’s phone lines from the traditional network to new, internet-based

    The public telephone
    network remains the backbone of our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure,
    but any changes in technology need to reflect a bedrock principle— we must make
    sure the transition results in an actual upgrade in technology without a
    downgrade in the services upon which Americans depend.

    Leaders from telecom,
    rural broadband, and Internet industry joined PK’s President Gigi Sohn
    to discuss the challenges of the IP transition at the Senate Committee on
    Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing on the “State of Wireline
    ” last Thursday.

    There were a number
    of issues raised at the hearing that will require policymakers to act as more
    and more consumers cut the cord and move to mobile wireless and VoIP services. The
    FCC has been tasked with providing guidance with national policy, but changes
    are already happening at the state level.

    Mr. Jerry James from
    COMPTEL responded to questions regarding the proper role of State regulation—approximately
    25 states have already deregulated retail services, but have continued to
    protect business service regulations because of the different types of market

    PK realizes that
    States who deregulate State commission authority over telecommunications
    services may still be relying on the continued operation of federal
    protections. Even if States choose to deregulate, we need a federal safety net
    so states can experiment without eliminating protections that ensure everyone
    can connect to everyone else. 

    There is noticeable
    bipartisan interest in the FCC authority and efforts to address the problem of
    rural call completion. This bipartisan support for FCC action is led by Senators
    Klobuchar, Fischer, Thune, Pryor, and Boxer on the Commerce Committee.  These members are sponsoring a
    resolution asserting the authority of the FCC to act and enforce call
    completion for rural communities. 
    The resolution might even be voted on in the Committee this week. 

    Ms. Shirley Bloomfield
    from the NTCA believes the FCC should ensure current safeguards remain in place
    during the transition in order to protect consumers and the public safety.
    Similarly, PK recommends Congress and the FCC need to make sure they have the
    authority to make sure rural residents have their calls completed. Once the IP
    transition is complete—it will be too late to act—the FCC will have lost the
    opportunity to act.

    You can read Gigi’s full
    testimony here
    and watch the full hearing on the Senate
    Commerce Committee website

    We have already seen
    what can go wrong with the IP transition on Hurricane Sandy ravaged Fire Island,
    where Verizon replaced their damaged copper network with Voice
    Link wireless service
    . The chart below presented during the testimony,
    compares the services of Verizon’s copper network that are not supported by
    Voice Link. Reliable 911,
    medical alerts, security systems, and broadband access, are just a few of the
    examples of critical services already lost during a transition that is leaving
    customers behind—a 21st century transition that should be putting consumers

    Our nation’s phone
    network became the unparalleled success we know today because our policymakers
    valued five
    fundamental principles
    . The technology we use to communicate may be
    changing during this transition, but our basic social goals and values need to remain
    the same.

    These principles
    should serve to guide the transition to ensure the critical services that
    Americans have come to depend on remain in place and continue to serve the
    nation’s telecommunications needs for the next 100 years.