74 Comments

Summary:

The copper landline is dying, and AT&T has suggested some regulatory changes to speed the death along. What it doesn’t address is what an all-IP future means for the almost 20 percent who rely exclusively on a landline or the 33 percent without broadband.

The Federal Communications Commission is delving into the future of communications with a request for comments on an all-IP telephone network. Last week, AT&T filed its comments, which shows someone at the carrier is reading GigaOM, or at least the writing on the wall when it comes to landlines. In a 32-page filing, Ma Bell asked the FCC to eliminate regulatory requirements that it support a landline network and to provide a deadline for phasing it out.

The (almost) one in five Americans relying exclusively on a plain old telephone line should prepare to kiss that wall jack goodbye as the major wireline telephone providers back away from that dying (and expensive business). However, AT&T in its filing doesn’t offer a way to bridge the gap for that 20 percent of Americans relying only on landlines, nor does it address what an all-IP future means for the 33 percent of Americans who have access to broadband but do not subscribe (although those broadband laggards might be paying for a digital voice product from a cable provider).

To defend the rush to VoIP, AT&T offered data that shows how the increase in voice options, from cellular phones to cable VoIP, and the rise in costs associated with running a switched access network are hurting its business while providing little benefit to the consumer. We pointed this out in an April story, later picked up in the NY Times, although the Times got the credit in the AT&T filing. But AT&T offers some other scary stats:

  • Between 2000 and 2008, total interstate and intrastate switched access minutes have fallen 42 percent.
  • For the incumbent local exchange carriers, revenue from wireline telephone service fell to $130.8 billion in 2007 from $178.6 billion in 2000 — a 27 percent decrease.
  • At least 18 million households currently use a VoIP service, and it’s estimated that by 2010, cable companies alone will be providing VoIP to more than 24 million customers; by 2011, there may be up to 45 million total VoIP subscribers.
  • Today, less than 20 percent of Americans rely exclusively on switched-access lines for voice service.

In addition to a firm deadline for dumping the old network, AT&T calls for the FCC to seek input on additional regulatory changes to enable a transition away from copper phone lines. Those include putting broadband regulatory jurisdiction at the federal rather than local or state level, reforming inter-carrier compensation, changing the aims and structure of the Universal Service Fund, and eliminating state regulations that dictate that a carrier serve all people in a geographic area. It also told the FCC that it needs to figure out how to handle public safety and folks with disabilities in this VoIP world.

The filing shows that it’s easy to declare VoIP as the future of telecommunications, hard to figure out regulatory policies that will make that a reality, and even more difficult to make sure everyone can make that leap.

Thumbnail image from Old Telephones via Flickr Photo of AT&T building by Mr. Bill via Flickr

  1. Another move at killing the CLEC.

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  2. for many who rely on a landline only i really do not think VOIP is suitable for them. at least not in the current form of a phone plugged into an ATA plugged into a router all using AC power jacks. it is just too complicate hardware wise with too many points of potential failure.

    why does AT&T not sell VOIP that has the ATA box outside on the curb in the junction box and to the users is no different at all from a land line? all the phone jacks in the house just work. but there is an IP packet based connection after the junction box.

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  3. But many people’s broadband connections travel over copper landline. Typing this from DSL right now.

    Anyway, we need fiber line-sharing.

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  4. It’s a tough predicament.

    CLECs (AT&T, Verizon, et.al.) have a bunch of rules they have to follow that were made at a time when they held a different position. I have to agree that continuing to hold them to a standard that took into account a position they no longer hold really isn’t fair.

    OTOH: there are a significant # of people who still use CLECs in the same way they used them once upon a time, and dinosaur references notwithstanding it really isn’t fair to just cut them off.

    On the OTHER other hand: the elimination of analog TV broadcasts was a similar issue when viewed from that last perspective, and the solution was simple: offer a converter box, and even subsidize it.

    So maybe the solution is to provide a DSL converer free to anyone who asks for it, thereby dragging them into the digital age without really making them change anything. It would be a simple matter to augment that device with a very cheap router with telephone IP capabilities built in.

    Problem solved!

    Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO
    Answer Guy and Virtual VIP Computer Support, Business Change Coaching and Virtual Assistant Services

    Answer Guy and Virtual VIP on Twitter

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  5. What I think will be a big wake up call is when the data comes out that high use of cell phones can cause cancer. I have been in the RF (radio frequency) industry for years, and I can tell you that locally, researchers have been looking into the effects of RF exposure for almost 20 years. In speaking personally with one of the researchers, he told me that data exists all the way back to WWII, where early radar operators had higher than normal cancer rates. Problems were even seen with police officers who operate RF-based radar devices. The officers, because of their ignorance of the threat, overexposed themselves to the radio signals. One finding was officers who left the “speed trap gun” on and set it in their lap for periods of time, ended up developing testicular cancer.

    So far, this researcher has found that RF exposure can cause cancer. A large part of this seems to be whether you are prone to developing cancer from such an exposure, and then the level of exposure needed to cause cancer to occur in you. So it’s a bit like Russian Roulette. Whether it can cause you (with your personal DNA) a health problem is unknown.

    The lower power of cell phones is not a “saving factor”, as some people keep their phone glued to their head for hours a day, and the transmitter runs continuously while on call. It’s not like an old “walkie talkie” where the transmitter only operates when you talk (thus reducing the exposure level).

    From a personal standpoint, I have enough training and understanding of RF to know not to use my cell phone for extended periods. I’m scared enough of the risks. It’s a shame that the general public, since they don’t feel anything happening to their body, figure nothing negative could be occurring. But some of them will end up like a realtor friend of mine, who died of brain cancer from a tumor which grew right in the area where she held her cell phone for hours a day.

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  6. [...] a 32-page filing with the FCC last week, AT&T asked that the requirement that it support a landline network be repealed. It’s an aggressive bid [...]

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  7. So AT&T wants to dump the POTS network, which I have no problem. But at the same time, want to remove the requirement to provide all users service. You can’t have you cake and eat it too. I like out in rural indiana… about 6 miles from the city. We can’t get anything other than a T1 for internet. So, AT&T wants to get out of providing any service to us.. that’s great.

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    1. They probably wouldn’t get rid of t1’s just POTS service. Face it, pound for pound VoIP is cheaper, cable realizes this. People don’t care about reliability when they are only paying for all-you-can-eat for $18-30/month.

      Even cell phones are cheap as long as you live within your means. If you do prepaid and use it as a phone you can get a really basic talk and text phone for no more than $20/month (prepaid).

      It’s time to move on and move up! WHo here pays for a landline anymore? I can bet as least 95% of people here do not.

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  8. WAKE UP FOLKS, CALL THE SERVICE(VOIP, DSL, POTS) POLISH SAUSAGE IF YOU MUST, HOWEVER, THE “OLD COPPER LINES” IS STILL WHAT MAKES UP THE NETWORK. WHEATHER THE SERVICE IS VOIP, POTS, DSL, ETC,ETC….IT WORKS ON COPPER TO YOUR HOME AND BUISINESS. THE ONLY THING CHANGING HERE IS THE EQUIPMENT ON BOTH ENDS. THE LEGACY SWITCH SLOWLY CHANGING TO A SERVER TYPE SWITCH TO HANDLE DATA AND THE CPE END BECOMING A GATEWAY, ROUTER, AND SWITCH TO HANDLE DATA. BY LETTING THE ATT AND VERIZON’S BAMBOOZLE THE LEGISLATURE AS TO WHAT THE NETWORK REALLY CONSISTS OF, WILL BE THE DEATH KNELL ON COMMUNICATIONS IN THIS COUNTRY. IF YOU DON’T HAVE UNIVERSAL SERVICE, THEY WILL JUST CHERRY PICK WHAT PARTS OF THE NETWORK TO KEEP WHAT THEY WISH TO KEEP…. LIKE VERIZON HAS ALREADY DONE IN SELLING OFF PARTS OF THE SO CALLED “RURAL ACCESS LINES” AND KEEPING THEIR DENSELY(CHEAPER TO PROVIDE SETVICE TO)POPULATED AREAS. WAKE UP AMERICA, A MODERN, REGULATED COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK IS VITAL TO MAINTAINING LEADERSHIP IN THE WORLD. THE NETWORK IS NOT EXPENDABLE AND ANYONE WITH ANY CONCEPT OF HOW THE NETWORK WORKS UNDERSTANDS THIS….UNFORTUNATELY, MOST LACK THE BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF EMERGING TECHNOLIGIES THAT HAVE BECOME THE FABRIC OF DAILY LIFE. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THIS, WIRELESS, DSL, VOIP, T-1,ETC, ETC, all WORKS THROUGH COPPER OR FIBER. IT’S THE NETWORK, STUPID SOMEONE ONCE SAID.

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    1. I work for At$t on the cooper lines when they bought us (the old Bellsouth) they told us that they did not want the landline service and all they wanted was the cell service and the company has not spent any money on the network for upgrades exspecally in the rural areas. now they are surplusing network employee as fast as they can to be on the fact side the number for 1q2010 is 1060 and over 80% are the people that come to your house and repair your phone and that number is just in the old Bellsouth states (9 state area Southeast) but the problem that i have is that the copper lines are the back bone of this country and everything works off of the lines for the most part and yes they are going to fiber but most still work off of copper (cell towers, t1, ds3,dsl, and at$t uverse)I just would like At$t to tell me how much longer I can expect to be employed! thanks AT$T

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      1. I’m a Service Tech for at@suck sounds like a bunch of stupid fools running this company. Wireless is not dependable. The copper is already there why not use it

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  9. What good is VOIP telephony when the internet system goes down? What use cellphones if there ain’t no power to the tower? My landline has worked during massive power outages and after earthquakes and I have doubts that VOIP would be working under those circumstances.

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    1. yea but no one is concerned. THey only shop for price… not reliability. I see it every day of the week when someone tells me “I want dry line dsl service.”

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      1. AGREED!!!

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    2. If your “POTS landline” switch failed in their network it would be the same as the internet going down.
      The way the ATT Uverse works now on the VoIP is that you have the IP gateway in your home, it splits the services you get (internet, VoIP, and TV)there is a backup battery you get with it. It is said to provide up to 4 hours of voice as long as you don’t try to use a laptop or other means of heavy data traffic on it during an outage. I have had outages of 2+ hours and still had phone service, but the battery upkeep is on the customer for replacement.

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  10. [...] a 32-page filing with the FCC last week, AT&T asked that the requirement that it support a landline network be repealed. It's an aggressive bid to get [...]

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  11. It is important to remember that landlines still serve an important role. I live in rural Iowa and when the power goes out because of storms and/or ice cellphones do not work. The only way is with landlines. As long as I live in the country I will have and need landlines.

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    1. AGREED Adam. I Live in the city and every power outage affects me. I need the landline to call for emergency help
      from the power company,police,EMS, or fire.

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      1. If you have a laptop and keep it charged then in case of an emergency, which doesn’t happen very often, you can still use VOIP. Dry loops/DSL lines run over copper just as well as POTS lines do. DSL is powered by the CO which is backed up by UPS(Uninterrupted Power Supplies). Landlines are powered by the same supplies in the Central Offices and I can assure you it’s a very reliable source. The only thing you are not getting with DSL/VOIP is the constant idle -48dc volts at your jack. Landlines are good if you are going to apply for credit and you have att service. Serves as a good reference unlike cell phones which many people default on.

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      2. RichardAWoods Monday, January 4, 2010

        Agreed! I live also in rural Iowa and have been for years and years trying to get rid of LAN Lines and move to some form of high speed internet/VOIP for telephones. It can not be done. The lines are Quest owned but Quest has to sell them to Iowa TeleCom and thus Iowa TeleCom provides us service but Quest does not want upgrade the lines because Iowa TeleCom has the actual business. Why would Quest upgarde lines they make no money from because they are force by the goverment to lease them to a smaller company?

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  12. @Stacey,

    I think AT&T wanting to move forward is good for the economy, and can be good for consumers if and only if all of the issues previous readers have made are addressed. However i’ll note that the issues you and other readers have pointed out were predictable when fiber emerged and the US carriers elected to selectively use fiber in an effort to maximize profits. Granted, it is their right to maximize their profits, and they do have shareholder responsibilities, however they’ve all made insane profits over the last decade while not addressing the aging copper infrastructure, rural telecommunication requirements, and the emerging IP based telecommunications requirements. End result, we now seeing strong growth in IP voice and data (wired and wireless) and yet the aged and partially upgraded networks can’t handle the growing usage without problems due to congestion.

    Bottom line, AT&T (as well as the other carriers) should be allowed to drop their land lines and required to deploy all current technologies to address network congestion, rural telecommunications, emergency telecommunications, and IP based telephony. The network build outs should also be required to address the next 10 to 15 years, which means simply that AT&T (and the other carriers) take their financial lumps in the short term in order to gain more and sustainable profits over the long term.

    My $.02.

    Happy Holidays!

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    1. Curtis, you’re hitting the core issue, which is the selective deployment of an all-IP network, while stranding those on the old network. This can be read as both PSTN v. all-IP and even copper v. fiber. I’m hoping that the FCC really focuses on that in the national broadband plan, as the for-profit providers can’t deploy fiber-based all-IP service profitably in some areas. But of course, we first need to know what people have. Sigh….

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      1. Sure. We’re talking about the same companies that were paid billions of dollars of taxpayer money to build a modern broadband infrastructure and all the taxpayers got in return was a lot of excuses. The United States is still very much in the dark ages of broadband. In many other countries, 20MB, 30MB, 50MB, even 100MB broadband is common. In the US, the average speed is 5MB. So you want the tax payers to agree to let the phone companies build an all IP telephony network but leave the difficult problems to the FCC to solve? Um, what planet do you live on and what color is the sky?

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  13. All things must pass. But only so long as no one is passed over. In theory, it’s about time we dump POTS and move everyone to an all-IP network. But, if this serves only to allow AT&T to finagle its way out of providing universal service, then it is a bad thing. If, however, by eliminating POTS it paves the way to improve our communications infrastructure to support the digital future for everyone, then it is a necessary and very good thing. The key, as pointed out above, is to establish appropriate regulatory policies to make the all IP network an affordable reality while ensuring everyone makes the leap into the bright new digital future.

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  14. Lets see – we have been subsidizing fiber to the home for how long now? What (miniscule) percent of us actually have this beast?

    I shed no tears for any phone company, CLEC or whatever, and AT&T deserves a great deal of grief for the screwing she has given the public, so I have no problem with letting her go down with her landline business. On the other hand, Ma Bell still has one of the most effective lobbying organizations in Washington, so she generally gets what she wants out of the FCC.

    The fact that AT&T is stuck with “unprofitable” landlines is because that is where the company wanted to be back when they had a monopoly and could stick it to the consumer. Now that they lost the monopoly, they don’t want the regulatory baggage that they so urgently demanded back when it did them some good.

    I think that we as consumers are probably in for another screwing, but I hope that enouhg of us can put up enough fight to at least take the profit margin out of it.

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    1. att has already chased the cash cow of long distance and gone bankrupt once, let them do it again with cellular. i unwillingly work for them now, untill they sell of all of us landliners. when a company is stupid enough to give away 30% of its landline customers to government puppet clecs and think its a good idea, its time for it to die. i just hate to see all the people that have depended on that living to lose their jobs so we can all feel good about having a fiber optic line running on antiquated technology like uverse.

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  15. [...] a 32-page filing with the FCC last week, AT&T asked that the requirement that it support a landline network be repealed. It’s an aggressive bid [...]

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  16. What are your plans for this:
    1941.4. The lessor of a building intended for the residential
    occupation of human beings shall be responsible for installing at
    least one usable telephone jack and for placing and maintaining the
    inside telephone wiring in good working order, shall ensure that the
    inside telephone wiring meets the applicable standards of the most
    recent National Electrical Code as adopted by the Electronic Industry
    Association, and shall make any required repairs. The lessor shall
    not restrict or interfere with access by the telephone utility to its
    telephone network facilities up to the demarcation point separating
    the inside wiring.
    “Inside telephone wiring” for purposes of this section, means that
    portion of the telephone wire that connects the telephone equipment
    at the customer’s premises to the telephone network at a demarcation
    point determined by the telephone corporation in accordance with
    orders of the Public Utilities Commission.

    ALSO about Helath and safety codes re: the ADA? Applicable?

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  17. I would love to drop my POTS line from AT&T, but I am required to maintain it in order to have DSL from Speakeasy. There’s no technical reason for this; I wish the arguments AT&T is making to the FCC could be relayed to the CPUC.

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  18. Fiber today is what copper was in the past. Lets skip the copper and go directly to wireless solutions 100%.

    Nodes in every neighborhood to defuse the congestion. No tearing up the streets.

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    1. just what do u think is feeding those nodes?? magic?

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  19. [...] | GigaOM | Email this | Comments View full post on Engadget December 20th, [...]

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  20. Just imagine all the jobs lost and people unemployed!

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  21. Telephone Employee Thursday, December 31, 2009

    Those of you who think that AT&T is requesting this change for the customers should think again. They are not doing this to better the countries technology either. It’s all about money! AT&T has already passed legislation in multiple states to deregulate its service. This means that customers who loose service no longer get a 24 hour commitment. This guarantee use to be monitored by the Public Service Commission. This new action enabled AT&T to lay off large quantities of it field technicians. Customers will now be waiting up to a week for those out of service issues. But…AT&T will make even more money! This is good for whose economy……not the peoples! So now by eliminating this copper POTS service, how many more people will loose their jobs so the companies top 10 can make millions more? What is next…..the power companies deciding if and who they want to provide power too? Maybe during summer months when power usage is high the power companies will provide their service to the highest bids! Those customers who cant afford it, lights out? Utilities can not be run as just another business, they have a great responsibility and the government needs to help keep tabs. AT&T made more money during this bad economic time, then in any year in their history! Let’s not worry about them.

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  22. Oh please, the land line network is installed – if it is so terrible a business you sell, you do not go crying to the regulator (trying to have other profitable models handy capped).

    I may retract the above statement, does AT&T own physical facilities or is better to lease? This then becomes a function of taxing – Gov. makes the rules, companies only react in their best interest.

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  23. This sounds like a great deal. If ATT wants to hand over their copper physical plant to communities to use as a resource I would take them up on their offer immediately.

    The communities can then hire companies to “light” it up as DSL using 2010 electronics (100Mbps per pair or higher). This is divestiture II done right.

    And without being shackled by the 19th century telegraphy idea of charging services we’d be able to achieve Ambient Connectivity (http://rmf.vc/?n=IAC) with or without wires!

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  24. Shane Davenport Thursday, December 31, 2009

    If AT&T wants to get rid of landlines, let them. However they should be required to service everyone with the new service. AT&T is currently crying that it can’t afford to bring broadband to rural areas of the country. I see this as a safety issue. There are parts of this country were cell phones don’t work well or at all. How can they say to people we are taking away your phone line you will have to suffer with nothing. How are these people supposed to get emergency help when they need it? Oh, I know, Smoke Signals or maybe a psychic that lives down the street?

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    1. att only is required an 80% coverage i believe on any service that is not pots, dream on if u think they will offer universal coverage.

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  25. ATT is not doing this for the consumer.Its good old corporate greed pure and simple.They plan on saving money by reducing the workforce that maintains the copper infrastructure. Rural america will suffer and att will be the unregulated beast it once was.its not about saving the consumer money period or offering wonderous new technology.Everything is still riding on copper backbone.

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  26. John David Galt Thursday, December 31, 2009

    No product or service is really obsolete until EVERY ONE of its users has access to all of its benefits, at a price they can pay, from newer products or services. My guess is that a lot of Americans will still need landlines in 2100.

    Many of us live in older apartment houses, condos, mobile home parks and the like which aren’t equipped with fiber and aren’t willing to allow it in. Or there’s no local cable company and the landlord won’t allow satellite dishes. Etc.

    If AT&T no longer feel they can make a profit on landline phones, then let them spin off that business and try to compete with it using whatever new tech they feel they can deliver better. But don’t allow it to be shut down.

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  27. As a AT&T worker this is not right for the public and the workers. The workers that work on the lines are being forced to do the work as fast as they can . AT&T does not care . In fact the workers have 30 mins to fix the service and in most cases it takes up 4 hrs . The worker is in trouble for not getting atleast 6 jobs aday . Most of the fiber is only going to new subdivision with 50 are more homes .They are not placing fiber to the customers that are on copper lines . Which most of copper lines where placed in 1940’s which are wore out from age and lighting or high power being introduced . An as the other worker said 24hr commite is gone so some of the cust go for weeks out service and this for cust that live in town or 20 miles out of town . AT&T is just after the money .

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  28. No one is talking about getting rid of the copper line, just the POTS service that rides on it.

    Frankly, it is a bit tiring to hear the AT&T bashers wanting AT&T to continue to be saddled with a business that is on the way out ( substantiated by the declining numbers) and uses 100 year old technology – while also comparing the legacy carriers to new entrants who dont have the same constraints of regulation.

    If most of the profitable business moves to, say wireless or VOIP, then a legacy carrier wont survive offering universal POTS service to a rural area with low population density, with or without the universal service fees.

    I think the suggestion to model a POTS transition after the analog television phaseout is a great idea.

    The salient point is that even if AT&T or other legacy carriers were to try to offer a technical solution – they must get permission from regulators the way the laws are written. The process of transition has to start with such a filing.

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  29. Its all about money. I work for at&t installing land lines. at&t wants to eliminate people from the payroll. Saying that only 20% of the population is using a land line is a flat out lie. at&t has done EVERYTHING they can to move customers away from land lines, I.E. poor customer service, giving lines to cable companies, allowing the cable plant to literally collapse, hell, just try to order a land line and see how long it takes you on the phone. There is far more money in VoIP and Uverse……and far less quality. The American public will be the ones who suffer when they get a monopoly and your rates go thru the roof……a land line is less than 20 bucks…..check your prices on cell service….ever deal with the non regulated dish, direct TV, or cable companies prices? Just wait and see what happens if they de-regulate the only regulated phone company….AT&T…..

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  30. We need land line. I live in an area with frequent power outages. It’s good to know the land line phone is still working when broadband goes down. Also, we need land line to FAX from our computer. FAX does not go through DSL.

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  31. Great idea at&t, because after all-nobody gets dropped calls with cell phones anymore!! What a bunch of crap, those idiots are just pissed because they cannot screw people over and over charge them like they used to. That of course will change if this happens and everyone is forced to buy a cell phone. Cell phone contracts tease you with rates such as all- you-can-use-everything for only 39.99 a month but when you get the stupid bill it is more like 69.99 or more. Every little fee and tax that they are allowed to tack on they do and in doing so they are screwing us over. So basically at&t wants me to have to double my phone bill so myself and my wife can have a phone for each of us. Great way for the phlegmwads to wring me for an extra 70 or 80 bucks. Rot in hell you pathetic scum.

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  32. [...] ATT looks to get rid of the landline [...]

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  33. For those of us on the coast, VOIP over cable is a no go. I’ve been through two hurricanes here, Rita and Ike. It took the cable company between 4 to 6 weeks to get all the cable back up. At home I never lost dial tone on copper. Leave my copper alone.

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  34. [...] Le téléphone fixe américain ne fera pas de vieux os. Interrogé par la Commission fédérale des communications (FCC) américaine sur «une migration vers un monde tout Internet», l’opérateur téléphonique AT&T a répondu que cela serait envisageable de manière efficace que si le réseau de téléphonie fixe traditionnel était abandonné. [...]

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  35. This is a great idea if it includes a 50% reduction in cell telephone billing rates. This will establish the cell phone and ip provides as a monopoly and a utility. Odd economic type of business that congress forgot about. In addition to establishing a monopoly these new businesses should have to stand the test of existing anti-trust laws. The kind of laws that have been applied to the oil industry but not the banking, communication, or computer industry.

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  36. I use the POTS system for only one purpose, for emergency communications. For almost every voice phone call I make, I use my cell phone. We have the regular landline so that if the power goes out, we can still make calls. If the cellular carrier goes down (as happened with T-Mobile last month) or the system has too much congestion/traffic, we can still make calls. Also, when someone dials 911 from a landline, the emergency response know exactly the location from which we are calling without any issues. We would be 100% cellular if we didn’t want reliablity. Until all the issues already discussed can be worked out so nobody is left stranded, I say let AT&T stew in the pot they made for themselves these dozens of years as a monopoly.

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  37. I still use pots at home to handle my personal business. I can’t afford to pay for the minutes on my cell when i sit in queue for 30 minutes whenever I call just about any company.

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  38. My cell phone doesn’t work at my house. (We’re in a valley.) That’s one of the reasons I keep my landline. I can also get cheap, convenient international calling from my landline.

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  39. [...] two carriers announced plans that made the last decade seem like it happened 20 years ago. AT&T asked the FCC to drop the requirement that the provider maintain a legacy landline infrastructure, [...]

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  40. ATT wants to raise the monthly bill for sure! I was offered by them several times. The bill is unbelievable big. They just push you for the fancy features that you don’t need. If these guys are hornest, they don’t need to file some rule change request. They can just replace the hardware with same service scope with the same rate. Who care how they do it.

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  41. In the boonies Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    So what happens to those of us that can’t get anything besides a pots line? We live where is no cable, no dsl, and horrible cell service. So we get screwed right?

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  42. [...] AT&T to FCC: Let My Landlines Go! See All Articles » The Google Phone Won’t Open Up the Wireless Industry [...]

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  43. [...] side of broadband wasn’t something people paid a lot of attention to. But now net neutrality, disappearing landlines, cable disputes, the National Broadband Plan, Google Voice and Apple’s stance on app [...]

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  44. I am the GM of a very, very small Telco in Central IA (under 1000 lines). We have currently made the investment in xDSL technology in the forms of both ADSL2+ Bonded (up to 48Mbps on 2 pairs) and VDSL2 (up to 100Mbps on 1 pair) both depending on the actual copper cable length from the CO/Fiber fed cabinet. I today, can get this broadband to 100% of my customers. This is not really any different than any other small Independent Telco in IA or any other state for that matter. I would love to go fiber to the home, but that investment does not pay for us, and yes, we care about our customer and do our best to keep the rates low. Basic “landline” service from us is under $20 a month and yes, that DOES INCLUDE the related taxes too. The frustrating part is that not all of my customers want or care to have Broadband or even any Internet access. I am sure that will change over time, but the “powers to be” are forcing it to happen faster than it needs too (for us anyway). I do hear of people in IA that can not get broadband, but they are always fed from the “big guys”, not the independents. The “Big Guys” in Iowa feed close to 80% of the state and I guess the 20% number might be close for them relating to “relying on a landline”. For us, it is more like 75%, and that’s by the choice of my customer. I would love to have each customer have broadband, but they don’t have a device in the home that needs it… Related to other post on “power outages”, yes the xDSL signal is still going to the home, but you will need battery back-up for the DSL modem/router in order to have dial-tone for those emergancey calls. Even fiber to the home has a short coming there. When the batteries on the side of the house die, so does the dial-tone…

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  45. Unbelievable… I live in Kentucky where there are entire towns that AT&T and the other telcos don’t feel worth offering wireless coverage to. And good luck getting DSL or cable out in the country. I am lucky enough to be able to get DSL, but it is highly unreliable and any time there is a storm or a rain drop falls out of the sky within a 5 mile radius my internet goes down. And I am still luckier than the thousands out here who are still stuck with 24bps dial-up in a time when virtually every webmaster arrogantly assumes their all of their users are on broadband and loads down their pages with bloat accordingly. So you’re just going to cut us off? I hope the FCC has the good sense to tell them where they can stick their request, but with this government who knows? They gave them immunity to spy on us, so why not let them spit on us or drop us like yesterdays news while they are at it?

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    1. the fcc could tell them to stick it if they werent gettin paid for every traditional telephone customer in the u.s.
      that is why they wont force at&t to go voip, it’s not regulated(no gov. kickback)

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  46. at&t and verizon are under fcc control for telephone lines , so who controls cox & other cable company’s for telephone lines ? with in the last year fcc has not did as said they 20yrs or more to bring cable company’s under to same control as at&t and verizon. what gives???

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  47. [...]  |  GigaOM  | Email this | Comments ArrayArrayArrayArrayArrayArray Link To This Post1. [...]

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  48. I work for AT&T and it sure it’s the company it use to be. The new CEO cares about nothing but the bottom line and lining his pockets.
    If the FCC allows this to happen, it will put thousand of employee’s out of work. The very employee’s that has made AT&T what it is today. If you think that AT&T is doing this to better the nations network you are sadly mistaken.

    This an attempt to get out of PUC fines for missing the 24 hour comments. If this gets passed I can assure you AT&T will lay off thousands of their outside repair/installation techs and you the consumer’s of this new ip network will be waiting 4 to 5 day’s, maybe longer to get your service restored.

    Don’t get fooled by the smoke and mirrors this is Corp. Greed at its finest. AT&T will sale off the rural non-profitable wire centers. But they will maintain ownership of the central office equipment and become a CLEC in those area’s. I might add one thing to this…most of the rural
    wire centers are the very wire center’s that are PUC rated

    I am a repairman in one of those rural wire centers that could be effected, and I will no longer have a job. Some thanks for the 8 years of
    service I have given this company. Being a repairman I get to hear the real reasons why AT&T has lost so many landlines. I can tell you it because of the very copper this new ip network will run on hasn’t been maintain in years and years.

    I have unhappy customers tell me all the time your service is so bad that I turned my landline and just use my cell phone. AT&T has just started rehabing their plant, and thats only because of the new flagship product called Uverse.

    If you guys want to get sucked in to this BS be my guess, I know the truth and I can see the writing on the wall. Wake up people your getting took for a ride on this one.

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  49. [...] what market demographic represents the last stand for legacy circuit switched voice. Will it be consumer landlines or will it be mobile voice over 3G [...]

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  50. at&t landline employee Friday, February 5, 2010

    There are indeed some smart folks in the audience with some very insightful opinions for and against the at&t push to ditch their landline obligations as a public utility and steward of the United States communications infrustructure. It’s refreshing to see angry and vigilant Americans thinking, and mobilizing against corporate greed and Wall Street narcissism. It’s equally sad, as a telecom craftsman, to see the decay of my trade.
    Fact : at&t made 129 billion dollars last year(2008-2009) during the worst economic depression since 1936. This was the highest earning year in the history of at&t. ( Does this sound like a company in economic peril ?)
    At&t is no longer a friendly telephone provider that you can rely on like the power company, water company, or gas man. At&t is steadily becoming a multi-trillion dollar cash cow, gin mill, revenue-driven, retail money machine. Retail(revenue) is the key word here…the dozen or so folks running this massive mastodon money machine know nothing, or give a shit about, John Doe American in Fartlick, Arkansas, who lives 6 miles outside of city limits and needs telecom service. The Ivy-League frat kids who run the nations telecom infrustructure nowadays are bottom-line, revenue driven. Do you actually think they give a shit about a single POTS line customer ? They (our corporate hacks) are a new generation of buyers and sellers…They don’t give a fuck if they are selling tennis raquets, chewing gum, car parts, stereo equipment, or broadband… ” We need to increase profits “…” We made 129 billion last year… We need to make 150 billion next year ! “… It seems that the landline platform is a thorn in the side of revenue growth and ass-over-teapot ridiculous annual earnings we’ve enjoyed here at at&t. The vibe I get is that at&t customers are a nuisance, and if we could fire our customers and still make a profit, we sure as hell would! The rhetoric is right in front of your faces, but laid out in a glib and silver-tongued fashion…
    For you fancy, savvy digital folks out there, there are a wide range of digital and analog solutions available, from many different vendors, and with many different broadband packages. And for the folks who only want a simple POTS line and nothing else, God bless you!
    The fact of the matter is this : If at&t is allowed to ditch their infrastructure obligations and grandstand cutting-edge broadband-super-fancy superiority, wave of the future, wireless fanciness( with no guarantee of service or quality, especially to folks in areas that don’t matter), what will become of US telecom? I’ll be out of a job for damn sure, as well as 250-500,000 fellow craftsman, and I’m sure this will pave the way for Verizon and others, if they get a mad-money tick in their ass as well.
    I’m confident that the folks at the FCC have the maturity and wisdom to see this financially motivated, revenue driven, self-serving ruse for what it is…corporate greed, lack of civil responsibility and pure negligence at it’s finest…If these Texas toads that run this company wanted to be socially irresponsible with reckless abandon, and unchecked, they should have gotten jobs with R.J Reynolds or the California State Senate. It’s not enough that the leptons that run this cash machine could care less about the average American demographic,…it’s personally offensive to me that they don’t know what this business is about, what we do, and why we do it…they sit up in ivory towers and push doomsday buttons that lay regions to waste and destroy livelihoods and the concept of pride in America… When was the last time you had a gas station attendant in a paper hat come up to your window and ask to check your oil ? Technology and greed are replacing American jobs and funneling more money upwards to the wealthy few…then the majority can collect unemployment ! Please use your voice to tell the FCC that the notion of at&t dumping copper is retarded and fucking absurd. Most of the network now has simbiance with copper anyways…they only want deregulation so they don’t have to be bullied by customers anymore…they want the upper hand over the customer…” Don’t give it to them!” this stupid foolishness could cause a serious catclysm in the economy far beyond the fall of real estate jobs and car builders…

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  51. I think you have your statistics backwards. It’s not that only one fifth of Americans rely on land lines. Rather only one fifth of households have given up their land lines. That leaves 80% who still rely on them.

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  52. [...] IP soon enough), the willingness of a major service provider to accept that the landline is dying (and maybe hasten its death) is a hopeful sign. AT&T is doing this to help differentiate itself from its cable competitors, [...]

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  53. What a load. So that explains why AT&T will not increase its DSL coverage areas. They no longer want to serve anyone but people in cities..

    If AT&T would provide DSL to all of its wireline customers that might work.

    If AT&T does not want to serve wireline why did they buy the wireline part of bellsouth? They should be made to sell it to someone that wants to provide wireline phones and DSL to all the customers.

    Such a plan to phase out wireline will not work but wireless does can not replace wireline unless wireless rules were changed to require carriers to accept extentions so you can have several phones on 1 line at no extra cost and so that local dialup modems in satellite receivers and tivos and fire alarms could also work on those lines. You would also have to have a requirement that the cell service serve ALL areas which it does not now do.
    Many rual areas are not served by cell service.

    As far as AT&T broadband wireless AT&T rules do not allow you to use this on a home computer 24hrs a day it is only for a laptop. Thos rules would also have to change allowing you to use it on a home computer with no monthly bandwidth caps just like DSL.

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  54. It’s worthwhile noting that low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities receive protection of their essential utility services, including POTS (plain old telephone service), under fcc regulations – see http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/lllu.html. But VOIP falls under the bailiwick of broadband internet connectivity, which is unregulated by the government, so those protections would not be in place for these vulnerable individuals and families should they lose their POTS.

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  55. I actually keep a POTS line in case of emergency. I work in the business telecom world and also in emergency communications. I see what really works and what doesn’t on a daily basis. I love my cell phone and VoIP but when then sh*t hits the fan I want a POTS line.
    The only issue with POTS now days is with so many RT’s (remote terminals) pushing DSL closer to subscribers, if a city wide power outage hit your town it’s likely your POTS service would eventually quit. Unlike the old days when everything ran out of the CO which was backed up my generator…..
    Oh well…..

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  56. William Hassig Sunday, May 9, 2010

    Leave my landline alone! I’ve had that number since 1973 and I want it until I die (I’m 64). I’m retired from what is now AT&T and I dont see where the big cost is in running the switched pots network. All the equipment and cables and transmission facilities are in place and have earned their keep many times over during the past decades. The switched pots system is simple compared to the rest of the communications network.

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  57. [...] report’s results (found here in a PDF) are generally in line with those contained in AT&T’s filing to the Federal Communications Commission last year, in which the carrier req…. Additional findings from the CDC study that point to the inevitable end of the landline [...]

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  58. At&t will never relinquish all of their copper facilities. As a digital tech with At&t I see how many t1 lines are feeding through this outdated network to all of their precious cell sites. The company will never just quit using these facilities. The only reason they want to get rid of pots is so they can lay off service techs who work on it. There will be no network upgrade they just want to replace all the service techs with premise techs who make less and work on the VOIP technology. Corporate greed at its finest. Too bad the company will still need us digital techs to install and maintain their t1 services to cell sites because im sure they want to get rid of us also.

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