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FCC Preparing Transition To VoIP Telephone Network 250

mantis2009 writes "The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a request for public comment (PDF) on an upcoming transition from the decades-old circuit-based Public Switched Telephone Network to a new system run entirely with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. This is perhaps the most serious indication to date that the legacy telephone system will, in the near future, reach the end of its life. This public commenting phase represents a very early stage in what will undoubtedly be a very complex transition that makes this year's bumpy switch from analog to digital television look relatively easy."
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FCC Preparing Transition To VoIP Telephone Network

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  • by BubbaDave ( 1352535 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @09:48AM (#30309552)

    The death of dial-up has been greatly exaggerated. No broadband available where I am in NY, within 50 miles of Syracuse.


  • by don depresor ( 1152631 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:07AM (#30309694)
    You know that EEUU among many other countries still has a notably huge rail freight traffic, right? With trains as long as 3 Km composed exclusively by standard freight containers...
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:15AM (#30309752) Journal
    POTS is pretty reliable; but secure? Really?

    You can tap a POTS line with a couple of alligator clips and a speaker, and almost no standard telephones have even the most primitive encryption or obfuscation support, much less anything standardized.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:20AM (#30309788)

    POTS is already VOIP. You're just not aware of it. Ever make a long distance call? Guess what, it's transmitted via IP packets along the whole way except for the two endpoints (your phone line and the other parties line).

    Now, those packets aren't traveling on the public internet, but the whole backbone infrastructure went to IP years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:21AM (#30309798)

    In my lifetime (I'm 49), I have never picked up a telephone and not heard a dialtone.

    Internet service is an entirely different story. Many times each year, I need to do some combination of computer reboots and power-cycles on my router and cable modem in order to restore service.

    Since the 90s, I have seen my Internet service get slightly more reliable. But at the current rate of improvement, it will require many more decades before Internet service becomes as reliable as telephone service.

    I will need to see VoIP's reliability equal to PSTN's before switching over to VoIP. I've never talked to anyone about this who doesn't agree. Who are these people who are willing to give up 100% reliability for flakiness and why does anyone think they will be a significant market force?

  • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:27AM (#30309846) Homepage

    The current system doesn't require that a home have power --- a VOIP installation needs power there at the home ---granted a backup battery is a standard part of the installation (at least for Verizon's) but I don't believe that having a home's 911 service require a good and charged battery there in the home is appropriate for public safety.


  • by BubbaDave ( 1352535 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:38AM (#30309944)

    DSL does not have a 56K limit, but trades higher frequencies and wider bandwidth for

    a) much shorter runs from the central office
    b) polluting the other copper pairs near the DSL pair, rendering those pairs useless for DSL.

    VOIP voice is a fair bit less than 56kbps in many cases.


  • by DrPepper ( 23664 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:48AM (#30310074)

    I think a lot of people have missed the point on this. As I read it, the proposal is to replace the core infrastructure with VoIP based technology - ie. the circuits between exchanges. Existing POTS lines will still be used back to users to terminate calls. This is already in progress in the UK - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_21CN [wikipedia.org].

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:50AM (#30310092) Journal

    It doesn't specify that the IP based service has to start in home. As far as I can tell, it could be a standard RJ11/single-twisted pair to the base station where it then gets routed via IP.

    A home user wouldn't notice the difference.

  • In short? Yes (Score:3, Informative)

    by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @11:01AM (#30310224) Homepage

    I have Vonage service and have an alarm system with a modem and it works fine. Vonage in fact supports up to 56K modems AFAIK.

  • by raddan ( 519638 ) * on Thursday December 03, 2009 @12:05PM (#30311186)
    Oh certainly, it is ironic, particularly when you consider that the development of packet-switched networks was largely motivated by a desire to break out of the extremely limited network model that the phone company used.

    But it's also not that simple. The available bandwidth is extremely dependent on the distance from the CO. This is why you can't always get DSL even though you can get POTS-- the further you go, the more the impedance of the wire attenuates the signal. The frequency characteristics of the POTS network were chosen so that all POTS wiring would meet those specs, but that means that short wires have loads of extra bandwidth, and long wires do not. Tannenbaum has a nice graph for this in his Computer Networks book. Telephones include filtering circuitry to keep the signal's frequency within the proscribed range; DSL is taking advantage of the fact that much of this bandwidth is not utilized.

    Modern modem protocols do not attenuate their signals-- they first shoot for as much bandwidth as possible, and then choose an encoding scheme to take advantage of that. This is why very rural phone customers still can't get high-speed modem connections. Because VOIP is, like POTS, attenuated to match the requirements of the human voice, modem connections over VOIP are problematic. Not to mention-- there's essentially no latency on an analog line; packet-switching is mostly appropriate when latency is not an issue.

    So for long runs of POTS wiring, VOIP may not be a good thing, unless that POTS wiring is replaced. I don't know what the minimum bandwidth requirements are for VOIP-- they may in fact be less than POTS-- but VOIP also adds a lot of protocol overhead, since with POTS, there is no protocol. The phone company may even be running their VOIP service on top of some other network/transport software; TCP/IP is probably not a good choice here, particularly when it comes to QoS.
  • by daveywest ( 937112 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @12:47PM (#30312004)

    Full Disclosure: I work for a small POTS provider.

    In my city, Mesquite, Nevada, there are two telecom providers. The traditional phone company that has operated here for over 100 years, and the new VOIP provider. One works even when the power goes out; one has a working E-911 system; and one allows you to get telephone service without requiring other bundled services.

    Its amazing what a little bit of copper wire can do.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:36PM (#30313932) Journal

    >>>They sell those 3G USB dongles and pre-paid access at pretty competitive prices now

    My dialup costs $7 per month. Are they competitive with that? I see Verizon charges $50 for every 500 megabytes. That 500 MB is equivalent to only 22 hours of dialup downloading.

Air is water with holes in it.