The telecom industry is undergoing a fundamental transformation, and the regulatory framework should adjust to reflect the new reality.
Today, there are more households that have chosen to “cut the cord” and subscribe only to wireless service than households that subscribe to a switched-access service provided by a traditional phone company, known as incumbent local exchange provider (ILEC). And the number of households using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service have surpassed the number of households subscribed to an ILEC switched access service.
These statistics reflect the profound and accelerating technological and societal shift away from “plain old telephone service” (POTS) offered over the legacy public switched telephone network to IP-based services offered over fixed and mobile broadband networks.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking steps to facilitate the transition from circuit-switched to IP networks and copper to fiber networks, after several years of considering the impact on consumers and services that will be affected. New 2015 rules address the retirement of legacy copper networks. The FCC is speaking with a variety of stakeholders about future policy changes. Questions to be decided include how to clarify procedures for replacing services that become obsolete with the transition, and provision of business broadband services to companies that have not built their own networks.
What We Think
IP networks will bring consumers and businesses significant benefits from faster and more robust connectivity to the Internet, data and applications. Removing unnecessary impediments to the transition will ensure greater benefits to consumers, and enable more opportunities for competition. Ample data exists showing there are no dominant monopoly providers in the business broadband market. Therefore the FCC should adopt policies that facilitate competition, and not favor one provider over another.