Network Infrastructure

FCC Makes New Ruling Regarding the Transition to Fiber

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor  |  October 13, 2015

There are roughly 85 million copper-based telephone lines currently in operation within the U.S. This is a source of dismay for technologists and consumers alike, since fiber-based telephony is less expensive and brings added benefits over the older copper technology. The transition to fiber must be orderly and a net positive for consumers, however, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

To make sure that happens the FCC (News - Alert) in August voted to require telecom carriers planning to retire traditional telephone networks to notify both residential and business customers three months in advance. They also must notify connecting carriers six months in advance.

The ruling also requires carriers to offer customers an option to purchase a battery backup that lasts up to eight hours as part of a move to VoIP service, and to continue providing special access services at reasonable rates.

These new FCC rules are meant to ensure that no service is impaired, reduced, or discontinued due to IP voice infrastructure upgrades. If a carrier will reduce service in any way as a result of an upgrade, they must get FCC approval now.

As part of the ruling, the FCC also voted to issue a notice seeking comment on whether it should create new standards related to VoIP service, including network reliability, voice quality, and compatibility with existing alarm and medical monitoring services.

While most on the commission’s panel were in agreement over the new rules, Republican commissioner Ajit Pai did question why the FCC would impose rules that will ultimately slow the transition to the newer technology.

"Why is the FCC dead set on slowing [the transition] down?" he asked. "Lobbyists are claiming the sky will fall if fresh fiber replaces aging, twisted pairs of copper."

To that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (News - Alert) responded: "Changing technology is not a rationale for stifling service or competition. Changing technology does not change responsibility.”

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere