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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.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Well, I guess we know where the opposition to this plan will come from...
      • by TimeElf1 ( 781120 ) <> on Thursday December 03, 2009 @09:55AM (#30309616) Homepage Journal
        With only 60% of the US having access to broadband I'm thinking opposition is going to come from everywhere.
        • I'm 44. I'm pretty sure POTS will outlive me.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kheldan ( 1460303 )
            I am also 44, and I 100% agree with you.
            VoIP requires broadband internet connectivity. We can't even manage to get decent dialup internet service to everywhere in this country (the USA), let alone 100% broadband penetration. We might get some form of wireless broadband sooner (like WiMax), but even then I'd think that we'll have 100% cellphone coverage before we have 100% broadband coverage. Also, I haven't been too impressed with VoIP thusfar, I think there needs to be improvements to it before you can ex
        • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:58AM (#30310192) Journal

          I have broadband but I oppose disconnecting the old phone system for the following reasons:

          - When my DSL stopped working a few weeks ago (DSLAM needed replacement) I then used dialup to access the internet. 50k is slow but still useful for emailing, listening to online radio, or even watching youtube.

          - Dialup is portable. I can use it any place and any hotel that has a phone line. No need to pay the outrageous $5-10/night the hotel charges for wireless or wired access.

          - If a three strike law happens, my DSL or Cable ISP might pull the plug, but my dialup will still be there for backup.

          - This morning when the electricity died, the wired phone was the only thing that still worked. Good to have for emergency.

          • Some very good arguments.

            Regarding the "dialup is portable" theory ... you're right, but I find that these days 3G/HDSPA has pretty much replaced dialup for the "portable connection while travelling" market. They sell those 3G USB dongles and pre-paid access at pretty competitive prices now, and coverage is good (at least where I live - most places big enough to have a hotel, will have 3G coverage, and the dongles can roll back to 2.5G EDGE if required). Speeds are better than dialup (even on EDGE) and alth

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              >>>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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jarik C-Bol ( 894741 )
            you make a good point here. wire phones often work when everything else has collapsed into burning rubble. power can be out, cell towers down, and you can still pick up a corded handset and make a call. that level of reliability is just not matched in VoIP systems. In the area where i live, they transitioned a lot of rural customers over to a satellite relay for phone service (it had been microwave relays before that) what sucks is the satellite systems go down far more often than the old microwave system.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Chyeld ( 713439 )

              Except that in many places, you really are already on a VOIP network, you just have POTS on the last mile.

              Plus, this isn't a plan to force the networks to go to VOIP, they are already pushing for that on their own due to the lowered costs of running them. This is the "how do we let them do this without letting them screw the customer over by removing services or reducing quality of service" plan.

    • by jibster ( 223164 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @09:55AM (#30309614)
      I don't think you need to have BB to do VOIP, afterall if you have enough bandwidth to do voice, you have enough bandwidth to do voice (over ip.) I think your mistake is in assuming they mean any change in the physical infrastructure when in actual fact they only intend to change the protocall operating on that infrastructure.
      • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:20AM (#30309784) Homepage Journal

        But can you do dial-up over VOIP?

        I mean, sure, you'd think that if the phone network was IP-based, you'd be able to get general Internet access through it, too. Is that really the case, though?

        First issue, is this VOIP-to-the-home, or just VOIP-to-the-switch-box? A logical first step would be to switch over to VOIP just before the last-mile, to allow people to keep their existing phones - which (I think) would kill dial-up and faxes. A later second step would be to move the final transition point to the telephone box at the house.

        And even if it is running VOIP all the way to the home, you have to assume that the telco will allow people to connect to the Internet via their network. This is something regulation can solve (by forcing the issue), but still, that means new equipment. And most likely new fees. And quite possibly a loss of choice over ISP.

        So there will have to be some concession to people still using dial-up - especially if they're not planning on moving the entire network to VOIP all at once.

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

          by brunes69 ( 86786 )

          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 Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          It may be that they run VoIP to your closest exchange and keep the analogue lines to your house.

          But then it comes down to the encoders used what real bandwidth you get for dial up modems and faxes.

          A much more important factor here is that if telephony starts to go over an IP network instead will that traffic be legally protected against wiretapping and other actions?

    • The dial-up network was extended to areas that otherwise would never have been profitable to build by placing an adder on long distance charges and putting that money into a Universal Service Fund, whiched help offset the up-front costs of serving rural areas. Doing something similar for broadband in this day and age would bring howls of rage. I suspect there are some parts of the country which just are not serviceable without some type of large footprint (cheap) wireless solution. (My parents also happe
      • I'll be interested to see how it goes politically.

        The only way that broadband is ever going to reach the boonies in any reasonable quantity(at a cost that will make it relevant to people without impressively deep pockets) is either a near-magical wireless link technology or a mess of subsidies and fees on everybody else(as occurred during the prior rural electrification project, and telephone Universal Service stuff).

        Rural areas are, on average, substantially "redder" politically than are urban areas.
      • >>>I suspect there are some parts of the country which just are not serviceable without some type of large footprint (cheap) wireless solution.

        I disagree. They could just use the existing phone lines to carry DSL to rural homes. At 1000 kbit/s DSL can extend 5 miles away from the central office. More distant homes could use a combination Fiber-to-Neighborhood DSLAM to provide the connection to various clusters of homes.

        And as for the USF, I'd support the idea so long as it had a 10-year-sunset.

    • by Peter Simpson ( 112887 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:08AM (#30309704) that the user terminal (the phone) is totally passive - no power needed, it's a totally dumb terminal, and very robust (at least, if it's a Western Electric product!). The POTS system is the result of some careful design and decades of improvements to increase reliability. That's not to say that there aren't benefits to be had from VOIP, just that we should think carefully before deciding that everyone will be converted to VOIP.

      Disclaimer: In addition to my nifty 2.4G multiple handset cordless phones with built-in caller ID and voicemail, I have two POTS phones which work fine when the power goes out.

      • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:36AM (#30309926) Homepage

        POTS is a mature, robust technology that provides remarkably clear and reliable voice service throughout the country (nearly the globe) at an affordable cost.

        Of course we're going to replace it.

        • That's just like analog television. It too provided reliable service all across the country. I was able to get ~25 different stations in my location. "Of course we're going to replace it."

          And we did. The new digital television only gives me 4 sometimes 5 channels. I can get more, but I have to risk my life crawling onto the roof to install a giant-sized antenna that cost $200+

          In many mountainous areas of the country, DTV might as well not exist, because it can't "bend" around the hills like analog cou

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by daveywest ( 937112 )

          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.

      • POTS is Powered! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:46AM (#30310050) Journal

        POTS works over low voltage DC. As I recall, it's somewhere in the vicinity of 48 volts, but don't quote me on that. It's entirely feasible to have a cheap, dedicated VOIP chip that runs on 48 volts and draws perhaps 50 to 100 miliamps of current - well within the normal range of today's POTS power draw.

        VOIP doesn't have to be VOInternet. They coul just as easily have a dedicated IP network for telephony, then run something like PPPOÈ or VPN to gateway to the public Internet and do away with separate SL MODEMs.

        You'd still probably need a long distance plan, even though the point of one is technically idiotic.

        • Mod parent up, indeed, it is powered - while I was working on my grandparents' phone system, a family friend found it necessary to call them every 2 minutes for an hour because no one picked up the phone and she thought something had happened to them - SHOCKING.
        • by eln ( 21727 )
          It's powered, but it's powered through the phone line. The telephone company has lots of battery backups and generators in their central offices so that the phone service stays on even if your electricity goes out. This can be a vital link to have in an emergency, and until they can figure out how to make VoIP similarly resistant to power outages, I'd rather keep POTS around.
        • Hehe that's always one thing that's mystified me about the US, and something I didn't actually realise until quite a few months of living there. That you purchase a long distance service separately from a local phone service.

          A totally alien concept to most of the world where if you buy a phone service from a company, you can pick up the receiver and dial any other phone on Earth.

          It initially confused the hell out of me when I visited a friend's place and he couldn't call someone who lived 50 miles away beca

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by norminator ( 784674 )
            If separate long distance service blows your mind, then wait 'till you hear about "local toll". That would normally be a call that's within the same state, so your LD service doesn't cover it, but it's not in your metropolitan area, so your local phone provider charges you by the minute... but usually at a higher rate than an actual long distance call.

            I remember running into that in college and being totally pissed at the phone company (Qwest). For the next few years, Qwest gave me tons more reasons to
      • by bareman ( 60518 )

        no power need be supplied at the user end, but, as you know if anyone's dialed your number while you were working on the wires, there's plenty of juice (~90V ring voltage) there to make you say Ouch!!!.

      • Sticking a battery in new phones doesn't seem horrifically complicated.
      • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

        As some other posters have mentioned, I suspect what the FCC has in mind, at least initially, is only to begin to replace the 'backend' infrastructure connecting phone companies together. I don't think users will see a change to the "last mile" for a long, long time. As you said, it's simple, robust, and the equipment that end-users have to buy is cheap (most phones cost less than $150, some as cheap as like $10). I expect that what we'll see (and I believe most phone cos, basically already do this) is tha

        • I read the PDF/RFC. It specifically mentioned broadband and Voice over IP. I don't think the FCC is looking to keep this just in the BackOffice.
    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:25AM (#30309832) Journal

      Paragraph 1 of the attached PDF:

      In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“Recovery Act”), Congress directed
      the Commission to create a national broadband plan by February 17, 2010, that seeks to “ensure that all
      people of the United States have access to broadband capability and establish[es] benchmarks for
      meeting that goal.”1 Among other things, the Commission is to provide “an analysis of the most effective
      and efficient mechanism for ensuring broadband access by all people of the United States”2 and “a
      detailed strategy for achieving affordability of such service and maximum utilization of broadband
      infrastructure and service by the public.”

      In other words, they are looking to take your "no broadband available" location and make it a "broadband available" location. At the same time, they are looking to make the transition as cost-effective as possible so they will run whatever wires it takes to give you broadband but at the same time they are looking to eliminate duplicate services (running a nationwide-to-every-American PSTN network *AND* a nationwide-to-every-American Broadband Internet connection). They may even be able to use your existing copper to give you a good Internet connection.

      Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, any conversion of your actual home telephone to VoIP would occur (if it ever did at all) well AFTER you had sufficient high-speed Internet to support it. The FCC isn't going to convert everyone to VoIP today, disconnect massive numbers of remote customers who lack broadband, then figure out how to connect to all the outlying areas later.

      In fact, I imagine a lot of what they are going to do is sponsor/mandate DSL implementations, including some sort of repeater technology to break the "local loop distance" barrier and give every American household that has a POTS phone line today access to DSL tomorrow.

      There's a very good chance your existing telco will still be allowed to use the voice portion of your copper to send you POTS telephone service just like you are used to today, though many of them will probably want to become pure-play Internet/DSL providers and give you a VoIP box for your phone (but most will probably make that an Analog adapter so you can still use your existing phone) - that way they can use the entire available frequency band on your copper wires to give you the best Internet speed possible, rather than having to have data in one set of frequencies and voice in another. It also greatly simplifies the gear they have to maintain.

      • >>>I imagine a lot of what they are going to do is sponsor/mandate DSL implementations, including some sort of repeater technology to break the "local loop distance" barrier and give every American household that has a POTS phone line today access to DSL tomorrow.

        Agree 100%. Or as one colleague told me: Run fiber to the DSLAM, and then use the existing phone lines to provide DSL to that neighborhood. That's a very cheap upgrade

    • 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 - [].

      • From TFA:

        For example, one line of questioning that a Notice of Inquiry may pursue is how to continue ensuring appropriate protections for and assistance to people with disabilities in the transition to an IP-based communications world.

        That seems to imply to me that they're intended to have VoIP end-to-end, and not some half-baked backoffice based packed switched network (which in reality, we already have).
    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Don't hold your breath - they may reclaim the copper and force you to get a mobile phone.

      • by JSBiff ( 87824 )

        Don't be silly. Mobile phones are great, but they'll never replace having physical lines to the home. Why? Because however much spectrum there is over-the-air, you can multiply that by orders of magnitude by simply laying lots of lines which each get their own 'private instance' of the spectrum. Massive parallelism. If *everyone* got rid of the cable/dsl/dialup Internet today, and everyone tried to use mobile broadband for their web browsing, playing WoW, watching videos from netflix, hulu, amazon, youtube,

    • by jcr ( 53032 )

      Your voice traffic will be VOIP as soon as it hits your CO. You don't have to have broadband or DSL to your house for that to happen.


  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @09:57AM (#30309636) Journal
    By the time FCC gets around to rule making and enforcement about POTS, Google would have deployed a coast-to-coast Wi-Fi for free. It would still be called Beta though. All the telephone companies pumping voice through a pair of copper wires would go the way the companies that shipped freight over a pair iron rails. And the cell phone companies would be huddling in a corner, dazed, seeing stars wondering what hit them. They will just be joining others in the same corner newspapers, Rupert Murdoch, Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You do realize that shipping things by rail is WAY more efficient that doing it by truck don't you?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      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...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Freight rail is still in use, and is a hell of a lot more efficient than trucking. And if it weren't for the boondoggle called the Interstate system, we'd still be shipping most freight by rail.

    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:58AM (#30310204) Journal

      Google would be well-served by implementing WiFi now, and I think it would be fun if they did it in the same sort of participatory manner that they do everything else - they ship you a cheap or free GoogleRepeater, you put an antenna on your rooftop, and in certain areas Google pays for an Internet connection that they can connect to the GoogleRepeaterGrid. The network spreads as people are willing to install and run GoogleRepeaters, and remains fast based on them adding fiber connections at strategic points along the GoogleRepeaterGrid.

      If they can find a channel, the long-haul connection between GoogleRepeaters could be handled on a longer-distance higher-bandwidth frequency or range of frequencies, and the local repeaters could output standard WiFi. But they wouldn't have to pay to put up towers, because there are a good number of people who would be more than happy to install the repeater gear at our houses and help spread the signal. Google? Are you listening? You can ship it to me now. I've got a primo spot on my rooftop antenna tower with your name on it.

      As to the rail thing, it's still used for a lot of transportation of goods. It's amazingly efficient compared to any other way of moving product (except maybe floating it downstream on barges, but rail doesn't have to worry about river flow directions). You might be surprised at how much of the stuff you use every day was hauled at least part of the way by rail. It's more efficient than barging it, and almost ten times more efficient than hauling by the next-most-efficient method that's not dependent on current (trucks).

    • I live about a 1/4 mile (1/2 km) from a commercial rail line in the US - I can tell you that at least 10 trains per night of appreciable length pass over that rail and that the rail system is still in heavy use here. Another person already pointed out that rail is much more efficient than trucking for long hauls. The Google Wi-Fi system may be free for us (end users) but not for Google. They don't own any telecom backbone infrastructure, and that traffic has to go through someone's network eventually.
  • How unfortunate... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @09:58AM (#30309642)

    POTS is and has been stable and secure.

    VOIP... not and never will be.

    • Exactly, I have shit quality over VOIP all the time. Not to mention the problems with E911, location.
      • Why can't IP be linked to a geographical location as well as your PSTN line can? I'm fairly sure that it would be trivial for the phone company to assign static IPs to IP phones and link that to an address, the same as they do with the POTS.
        • by p.rican ( 643452 )
          It's not as simple as assigning a static IP......The VoIP phone is fed off of a gateway, router or cable modem etc that may have a static IP but.....the phone itself can be moved anywhere with a broadband connection and still register to the serving VoIP switch. I can take my Cisco phone in NY and bring it to California and have it register to the serving soft switch in NY without issue. Problem is that if I make a 911 call, emergency services will respond to where I originally had my phone registered in NY
    • 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.
      • 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.

        You're right. I should have qualified that a bit more. I don't see script kiddies running denial of service attacks on my POTS.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by bth ( 635955 )
          We leave DOS attack on POTS to telemarketers, charity solicitations, and pollsters.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sandbags ( 964742 )

          Please do not confuse provider based VoIP services as a replacement for POTS with VOInternet services. These are seperate things that happen to use the same call letters. It is entirely possible for a local phone company (not an ISP) to offer VoIP services direct to a compatible SIP device. This can be on a dedicated connection or chanel from internet exactly the same way a cable company can seperate analog, digital, and internet traffic on the same cable line.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

    • The most ubiquitous VoIP app (Skype) is encrypted out of the box. That eliminates the "Strip the wire, attack a speaker" taps possible with the current PSTN system. Further, why isn't VoIP stable? Are you assuming there won't be any QoS implemented?

      "To assume makes an Ass out of U..."
    • by Sandbags ( 964742 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @01:46PM (#30313098) Journal

      Do NOT confuse Voice over internet with Voice over IP. They are not necessarily the same.

      Your existing POTS lines today ARE running VOIP under the covers. The last mile is all that's really still a traditional POTS service in most cities. Once the calls hit central hubs, most of it is packetized traffic.

      Your home VoIP service likely sucks because either your internet connection is spotty, you're too far from reasonable servers, your VoIP modem is not properly installed and QoS (likely because it;s begind a router in your home instead of being directly connected to your modem), your modem is old and doesn't properly recognize and prioritize VoIP traffic, your ISP is purposefully degrading your ViOP service, or your VoIP provider (Vonage likely) is using a poor protocol and providing poor service quality themselves.

      I've been installing VoIP systems since 2001. MAJOR firms use tens of throusands of VoIP lines between offices worldwide with far superior call quality, routing capabilities, and redundancy, and for less money, than using PRIs and POTS lines.

      Having your local telcom switch to VOIP as a core solution has NOTHING TO DO with the VOIP service you are used to over the internet ala Centrex style.

  • by SlappyBastard ( 961143 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:00AM (#30309654) Homepage
    At this stage, we're about where the FCC was at in deciding what format DTV was going to be. We're around 1992 if we're comparing the VOIP timeline against the DTV timeline. It's gonna be a few years.
  • by PuddleBoy ( 544111 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:19AM (#30309780)

    VoIP, while an interesting and disruptive technology, is not quite ready for ALL voice applications. Some thoughts;

    It is frequently easy to tell when you are speaking to someone using VoIP. Clipped high and low tones, often choppy like a bad cell call. Most businesses will not want their customers having that experience talking to them. Residential is fine - those customers are just looking for cheap, cheap, cheap. Many businesses are concerned with appearances, and a bad call experience can sour a sale in a competitive marketplace.

    Many (most?) alarm companies cannot successfully run alarms (fire, elevator, burglar) over VoIP lines. Not sure if it's latency, compression or what, but I have heard this complaint MANY times from various security (alarm) company people. In some states, doing so is actually against the law.

    911 routinng - have all the 911 PSAP routing issues been resolved with VoIP? This is a biggie that most people switching to VoIP don't consider.

    Your Internet connection goes down, your voice is gone. One thing you can say about the PSTN is that it is pretty dependable. In all my years (I have some gray hair) it has been rare that I have trouble with a POTS line.

    VoIP has its uses - I'm not denying that. But the landline network will not disappear overnight, this year, or even this decade.

    • Many (most?) alarm companies cannot successfully run alarms (fire, elevator, burglar) over VoIP lines. Not sure if it's latency, compression or what, but I have heard this complaint MANY times from various security (alarm) company people. In some states, doing so is actually against the law.

      That's because most alarm boxes use a modem internally to relay the information to the central monitoring station....and modems don't exactly work well over VOIP. All they need to do is switch to IP-based reporting and it's problem solved...

  • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:23AM (#30309814)

    My compa y has VOIP an it see t have pro le wit cu out.

    • Show this to your networking folks: QoS []
  • Network neutrality (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vvaduva ( 859950 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:30AM (#30309866)

    I wonder if their providers will apply the true "network neutrality" principles to whatever sip trunks they have serving them, or will the fcc traffic get priority, since they are the fcc and everything?

    • FCC traffic getting priority would seem to be standards compliant because it would qualify as "Internetwork Control" which is the same level that BGP runs at.

      Which is really how it should be. If you want to use qos and traffic management, follow the damn rfc.

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @10:45AM (#30310028)

    Right now, when internet goes down, even in corporate settings, it can take up to a freakin WEEK to get it back.. and that's just in every-day non-disaster type situations.

    If the phone service goes out (that's a BIG if, i've only seen it happen 3 times in my entire life) it's never down for more than 3 hours.

    Until they bring internet up to this level of reliability, I don't want to see it behind the one device in my whole house which is capable of summoning paramedics.

  • This move ensures the FCC keeps itself well-funded despite the technology moving well beyond the bureaucracy's purpose. VoIP was desirable in part because it was free of FCC oversight/abuse; threatened with being marginalized into oblivion (at least regarding phone service), the FCC now has a plan to assert control over such growing liberties.

    Kinda like the "rural electrification project" which, despite having succeeded in its goal and thus eliminated its purpose for existence, now receives greater funding

    • by MBCook ( 132727 )

      One of the purposes of government is to push businesses to make improvements that may be against their interest.

      Take the E911/GPS requirement on cell phones. Providers weren't going to do that on their own. It cost money, it didn't provide new revenue. It may be a feature, but it probably wouldn't get people to switch companies. Left up to their own devices, it may not have been available for years and years more without government intervention.

      This is the same thing. The telephone network is old. It's al

  • This isn't about getting rid of your phone and giving you a software phone, it's about ripping out the core of the phone network and it's fundamentally circuit switched systems, and replacing them with IP based packet switched systems.

    You'll still be able to plug a plain old telephone into the socket and make a call.

    This is the same idea as British Telecom's current 21st Century Network project []. When your line terminates at the exchange, it no longer connects to a circuit switched system, but to a packet s

  • by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @11:11AM (#30310354)

    I wonder what bit rate we can push through the copper at most houses in rural America? My father-in-law's old house used to get very bad static on the line when it rained, but voice was still audible. Would this VOIP be capable of service, or does that house require new wiring? Anything requiring a lot of people to change the wires in their walls is going to face some serious problems. I bet new hardware in the field could get 64kbit or maybe 128kbit digital without much problem. If you're not worried about a computer talking on the line at the same time, that is way more than sufficient. Since the FCC solicitation seems to suggest they're using this as a way to force wider broadband deployment, 256kbit might be the minimum for a connection intended to share with a computer, although I'd hesitate to call that "broadband".

    I bet we could help with the reliability of VOIP by putting cheap NiMH batteries in each VOIP device (one per house, at the pedestal? or each device needs its own?). Enough capacity to last a few hours on standby and maybe 15 or 20 minutes of talk time would cover emergencies.

    I think it would be very interesting to be on a technical committee to write a new standard to cover bidirectional communication on low quality twisted pair. There would be interesting coupling challenges with using one wire for send and the other for receive, but using a current sense methodology on a differential signal has its own ugliness too. It would be cheating to take turns every 10-100ms using a training sequence, but there would be power and signal benefits to weigh against the increase in latency and cut in available bandwidth (and if each device gets its own CODEC, having more than 3 people on the phone may have ludicrous latencies).

  • Assuming that this is not VoIP to the home, but rather everything between the last miles, there's still some transitioning to be done. Mainly anything that is data over the phone, e.g. fax machines, alarm systems, and dial up networking. This requires some physical and procedural upgrades.

    There are far too many legal and medical industries that won't accept a scan/pdf over email and insist on a fax for some simple forms. Heck, even Ameritrade asked me to fax in a form or to mail it in, you'd think they c

  • Are you implying the network is analog to the core? Is this because of the funding of the `foreign policies`?
  • People act as if this were something new. The long distance carriers have been using VoIP technology since the mid 90s. Almost all LD calls over the last 5-8 years use IP at some point. However, I'm pretty confident that POTS will outlive me and I'm 31.

  • IPv6 and enforcement against ISPs who chose to prevent users from running their own services.
  • Data transmission is not subject to common carrier, and it is looking like even if something called "net neutrality" does go through, it will have lots of fun lawyerisms in it like "reasonable". If we replace POTS with VOIP, are we going to carry common carrier over, or will the ISPs and backbones be allowed to "reasonably" manage your telephone calls?

    IMO, bring common carrier over to data networks. I like it because it uses a natural stick: Want to engage in biased gatekeeping? Fine, but you are liable for

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker