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FCC Looking at Requiring Telcos to Offer Backup Power to Phone Service During Outages

February 18, 2015

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

The FCC certainly isn’t shying away from fights with some of the biggest tech companies in the world at the beginning of 2015. The agency is looking to launching brand new rules when it comes to Net Neutrality and now it is also taking a look at requiring a kind of backup plan for telephone service when the power goes out. In particular, the FCC wants Internet Service Providers that also offer phone service to provide a backup power requirement when power outages strike.

On the flip side, cable companies and telecoms don’t want to have to be required to keep customers’ phone services live when there are long power outages. At issue is the fact that copper phone lines can keep working through outages by drawing that power from a telco’s central office. These older lines are also falling out of favor before they can’t bring the same kind of high speed Internet service that newer lines afford. Unfortunately, these newer lines stop working when power is lost at a home or business.

The FCC recently opened a hearing on whether telecoms should start providing a backup power source in order to get around the problem of the new lines not being able to provide power with a statement which read, As consumers transition from legacy copper loops to new technologies, it is important they continue to have reasonable CPE [customer premises equipment] backup power alternatives to support minimally essential residential communications, particularly access to emergency communications, during power outages.”

There has already been some movement by the agency as a nod to companies that are concerned about powering their phones through long periods of outage. The agency is apparently floating a 24-hour limit as the length of time it will force companies to offer backup power to the phone service. As an answer, these companies say that customers should be the source of the backup power and these statements seem to hint that this issue is going to be a fight moving forward.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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