Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Traditional Phone Service Retiring Sooner (or Later)


Rumor has it that traditional phone service in the U.S. will go the way of the dinosaurs in the next decade. The FCC has posted information with dates referring to 2017 and 2018. The traditional carriers can't wait to get away from it. 

The Wall Street Journal says: 
"In January, the FCC decided to allow carriers to launch "experiments" aimed at weaning people off old, circuit-switched phone networks."
PC World article states: 
"A rural Alabama town and a suburban area of Florida may be on the cutting edge of a historic shift away from traditional circuit-switched phone service, if AT&T wins approval to run trials in those areas. The carrier plans to test a transition from its circuit-switched TDM (time-division multiplexing) phone network to wireless and Internet Protocol services in Carbon Hill, Alabama, and West Delray Beach, Florida. It will need FCC approval to begin the trials."
"As full-time residents on Fire Island try to get life back to normal following Hurricane Sandy, Verizon Communications is using the barrier island as a test case in eliminating landline telephones. “We’re extremely vulnerable. You need the security of a landline,” one resident said. As CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan reported, Sandy submerged parts of Fire Island, destroying underground copper wiring. As a result, home service telephone transmission to the barrier beach was cut. Instead of costly replacement, Verizon is using Fire Island as test case, offering all 300 permanent residents and dozens of businesses a wireless alternative it calls Voice Link. But data and Internet access come at a monthly price. Locals complain they’re now without faxes and alarm systems. “I feel that they left us hanging with no real options to get our business back up and running,” restaurant owner Jon Randazzo told McLogan. Without a landline, Randazzo had no way to process credit cards and was forced to do it manually using his cellphone."

It's time to plan ahead for any product or service that uses regular telephone lines to work. It seems abundantly clear Verizon and AT&T will be out of the traditional phone business sometime soon. Verizon spent $3.6M on direct contributions in the 2012 election cycle and $15.2M on lobbying.  AT&T spent $6M on direct contributions in the 2012 election cycle and $17.46M on lobbying.