What is the single biggest issue for the telecom industry today? Is there any room for a “wireline world”? What role should the Federal Communications Commission play in the transition from analog to IP, regulatory reform and market investment?
In today’s online broadcast of C-SPAN’s “The Communicators,” USTelecom President Walter McCormick joins host Peter Slen and guest reporter Howard Buskirk, executive senior editor of Communications Daily to discuss what FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the commission can do to ensure robust competition and further investment in the nation’s expanding broadband market.
According to McCormick, the single biggest issue for the U.S. telecom industry is the transition to a new IP environment. “IP technology is the technology that enables all devices to communicate with one another …. Every day we are putting IP technology into our networks,” he said. “Every day we are building more and more IP equipment and less and less analog equipment.”
When asked about the importance of wireline in broadband expansion, McCormick said, “The wireline world is really the central circulatory system of our economy. It is the veins and the arteries that really connect what is now the information economy in the United States. We’re seeing data traffic on our wireline networks increase at the rate of 40 percent per year. And it’s wireline networks that connect all forms of communication, whether they originate in a wireline environment or in a wireless environment … America’s future is a wireline future.”
Role of FCC
Noting that “it is extremely important that we have a managed transition to IP,” McCormick praised Chairman Wheeler as “someone who is going to be attentive and who is really going to be focused” on the issue. McCormick said it is important that the FCC “partner with the industry to make sure it’s done smoothly.”
He also observed that it is vital to ensure robust competition: “If you think about what the new chairman has said in terms of competition being his lodestar, it is directly consistent with the very purpose of the 1996 Act … to promote competition and reduce regulation …. In this IP environment, the goal should be to incent further investment — to accelerate the kind of investment that will lead to greater capacity.” The question that needs to be addressed is what should be the objectives going forward, McCormick said. “How do we best accomplish those objectives and what public policy should we adopt to do so?”
Furthermore, he noted that while there is vigorous competition in phone service today, the wireline networks are still saddled with regulations “that come from the monopoly era, and they are regulations that serve no purpose.”
“The Communicators” airs Saturdays on C-SPAN at 6:30 p.m. ET and Mondays on C-SPAN2 at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET. For more on C-SPAN’s interview with McCormick, read related articles in Communications Daily and Multichannel News.