AT&T has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to trial an all-IP phone network in two cities. The trial is a step toward the company’s long term objective to eventually retire the legacy AT&T TDM network; AT&T hopes to make its transition to an all IP network by 2020.
In a blog post, Hank Hultquist, Vice President-Federal Regulatory at AT&T noted that “in the 22 states where AT&T is the legacy ‘phone company,’ more than 70 percent of residential consumers have abandoned legacy phone service choosing instead to go with wireless services or VoIP services. And the number of housing units still connected to circuit-switched services provided by the legacy phone company has dropped below 20 percent in some areas.”
Hultquist also pointed out in his commentary that, “as the [FCC] recognized in its historic National Broadband Plan, it is not indefinitely sustainable to operate a shrinking TDM network in parallel with a growing IP network.”
AT&T offered a range of details and benefits in its 90 page FCC filing, but also said it was committed to four principles that included: universal connectivity, consumer protection, public safety, and reliability. It plans to follow these principles, “while also evolving to reflect marketplace and technological developments” according to Hultquist.
AT&T already offers VoIP services, introducing with a VoIP portfolio for business customers more than a decade ago and then offering U-Verse plans for consumers in 2008. However, these trials can lead to an all IP AT&T network in the selected cities, eventually retiring the legacy switched phone network.
AT&T has proposed the trials in Carbon Hill, AL, and in West Delray Beach, FL.—selecting the locations in part because they can present an opportunity to solve difficult issues. For example, Carbon Hill has a rural and sparsely populated wire center, and Kings Point has a large population of older Americans.