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VoIP Switch - While Federal Task Force Debates, Iowan ITSPs Prepare for Change

 
May 29, 2013

 


Voice over IP (VoIP) is increasingly overtaking traditional wireline telephony for both homes and businesses. As cheaper and more functional VoIP services, like Skype (News - Alert), Google Voice, and the plethora of enterprise unified communications solutions are introduced, more and more individuals and businesses are opting to communicate over IP networks. 

This has prompted the FCC (News - Alert) to commission a Technology Transitions Policy Task Force to review and provide recommendations on the current legal and technical landscape of telecommunications. The first workshop was held March 18th, 2013 where the task force examined the evolution in network protocols, including from TDM to IP; the replacement of copper networks with fiber; and the shift from wireline services toward greater use of wireless services.

The impetus for such a discussion lies in the fact that in their current formulation, FCC rules and regulations require Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) to maintain 20th century landlines, despite having the infrastructure and demand in place for a fully IP-based communication network – an arguably antiquated provision assuring consumer protection and last resort communication options. In other words, the majority of service providers are required by the FCC to provide a landline along with the Internet to each customer, or else charge a higher price for Internet. Only Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Wisconsin have removed this requirement. Many Iowan phone companies are currently fighting to convince state lawmakers to do the same, while urging the federal government to update the FCC guidelines.

Justyn Miller, chief executive officer of South Slope Cooperative Communications in North Liberty, Iowa, told Iowa’s second largest newspaper, The Gazette, “Broadband is what everybody wants, and they want to be able to transport voice by way of a VoIP connection.”

Miller, moreover, argues that the transition from analog PSTN switches to digital VoIP switching is a simple and seamless one.

 “South Slope consumers can’t tell when we’re using a VoIP switch or a VoIP trunk,” he said. “The landline call and the VoIP call is transmitted over the same equipment. Nothing changes at the consumer’s location.”

These calls for change have not gone unheard, as FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai acknowledged, “Through millions of individual choices, consumers are sending a clear message about the superiority of Internet Protocol-enabled networks,” adding, “[the FCC] must make clear that obsolete 20th century economic regulation will not be imported into the Internet protocol world.”




Edited by Jamie Epstein

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