AT&T is giving us a signal that the age of “plain old telephone service” (POTS) is coming to an end. The company told the FCC that the cost of sustaining lifeline POTS services to those who don’t want broadband, can’t afford it, or simply won’t give up their old ways could curtail its ability to invest in new service infrastructure.
Most operators we’ve surveyed would agree that the aging of the TDM plant is creating a situation where migration to VoIP is mandatory, but their concern is that users would want to continue to use old devices and even sustain what appeared to be “old style” voice, forcing an expensive conversion of TDM to packet. AT&T and others, we believe, are hoping for regulatory guidance on how to proceed with IP-based voice that is different from the PSTN model, not a transition but some broadband overlay network. The way this would be regulated is critical, hence the interest in getting FCC comment.