The FCC Needs a Framework for the Phone Network Transition First

Author: Jodie Griffin
Coverage Type: editorial
Public Knowledge, 1818 N Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, United States

[Commentary] As the debate surrounding the technological transition of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to an all-IP network continues, it’s becoming fairly obvious that the guardians of the phone network need to handle this transition by establishing fundamental principles to guide our country’s policies moving forward.

Public Knowledge filed reply comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to do just that. Already, many different stakeholders have submitted specific requests to the FCC to either keep or eliminate particular rules. Even at this early stage, we’re seeing unanticipated complications pop up, like Federal Aviation Administration service providers’ reliance on the traditional network, concerns for alarm systems that are geared to work on the existing infrastructure, and the need for the new IP-based phone networks to continue to improve access for users with hearing disabilities. There will likely be many other examples of uses that depend upon the current network infrastructure in particular ways that have until now flown under the radar, and we must be ready with a framework that can handle those surprises. A single, principled framework would also help the Commission evaluate the proposals of all of the many parties in a deliberate, coherent way. That way, instead of just arbitrating between the wish lists of the many companies involved in this transition, the Commission can actually move forward based on affirmative principles that reflect the fundamental values of our national communications policies.



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