Tales of the Sausage Factory

The FCC Sets the Ground Rules For Shutting Down The Phone System — And Sets the Stage For Universal Broadband.

Here’s the funny thing about the world. The two Orders the FCC will vote on tomorrow (Thursday, July 14) probably have more impact on the future of our communications infrastructure than the Title II reclassification of broadband. But like most momentous things in technology, no one notices because they are technical and everyone’s eyes glaze over.

 

In particular, no one notices the sleep inducing and incredibly vaguely named item “Technology Transitions,” we are talking about the conclusion of a 4 year proceeding on how to shut down the legacy phone system and move all our national communications platforms to a mix of digital platforms. That does not mean we’re getting rid of copper and going to all fiber (a common misconception). In fact, in many communities, the old copper lines might get pulled out and replaced with wireless technologies (what we call wire-to-wireless transition). Those who still remember when Verizon tried this after Super Storm Sandy on Fire Island will understand why so many of us wanted to make sure we have an organized transition with quality control and federal oversight.

 

But most people don’t remember this anymore. And, if you are not one of the 60 million or so people (mostly rural, poor or elderly) who still depends on the traditional copper line telephone, you may wonder what this has to do with your life. The short answer is: the old phone system still provides the backbone of our communications system of shiny digital thingies we take for granted. The old copper line phone system is also the workhorse of most ATMs, retail cash registers, and thousands of other things we take for granted every day. Why? Because the old copper line network has been around forever. It’s an open system everyone can – by law – plug into and no one ever imagined would go away.

 

But even more important for the future of our communications infrastructure – the Federal Communications Commission made this a values driven transition. In a bipartisan unanimous 5-0 vote back in January 2014, the FCC rejected the idea of making the Tech Transition a “get out of regulation free zone” and adopted four basic principles to guide the transition: Universal Access, Competition, Consumer Protection and Public Safety.

 

As a result, for once, for once, we actually have a chance to prevent the inequality before it happens. It took 100 years, but if there is one thing Americans took for granted, it was that we all had the same phone system and could all communicate with each other on equal terms. The rules the FCC adopts will make it possible to preserve this principle of universal access. Because this network forms the backbone of the broadband network, if we work together and don’t blow it, we can achieve the same success with broadband that we achieved with basic telephone service.

 

I dig into this below . . .

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Posted in How Democracy Works, Or Doesn't, Life In The Sausage Factory, PSTN Transition, Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Celebrate 100th Anniversary Of the Kingsbury Commitment With A Telecom Steel Cage Death Match and A Copy of Our Home Game!

Tomorrow, Thursday December 19, marks the 100th Anniversary of the “Kingsbury Commitment.” As just about no one outside the wonky world of telecom policy knows, the “Kingsbury Commitment” was the resolution of the anti-trust case between American Telephone & Telegraph (as AT&T was known then) and the Department of Justice wherein AT&T agreed to provide phone service to everyone (either directly or by providing interconnection to other local monopoly providers) and interconnect with its rivals in exchange for natural monopoly in most of its markets. You can see the text here.

 

 

Put another way, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of when we mandated interconnection and universal phone service as the fundamental values/defining responsibilities of the phone system. For those following my endless blather about the “transformation of the phone system” the Kingsbury Commitment provides the cornerstone of those 5 Fundamental Values I’m always going on about (see exciting white paper here).

 

With a Steel Cage Policy Deathmatch and with release of copies of our home game!

 

See details below . . .

 

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Posted in Series of Tubes, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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