Preparing for the all-IP telco

Even AT&T sees the future is dim for the traditional telephone network.

A few months ago, they petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to plan for the retirement of traditional phone networks and begin the process of planning for the inevitable all-IP telco. While the FCC has suggested in the past that the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) might be obsolete by 2018, this is the first time that AT&T has publicly acknowledged that the PSTN is not sustainable.

According to Hank Hultquist, VP of AT&T’s federal regulatory division, “Nobody is making this network technology anymore. It’s become more and more difficult to find spare parts for it. And it’s becoming more and more difficult to find trained technicians and engineers to work on it.”

The transition to an all-IP network will provide higher call quality, according to Hultquist. It will also integrate voice throughout the Web, adding to the already popular services like Skype, Facebook, and Google Hangouts. While making the transition, the FCC wants to ensure that we preserve what is good about traditional phone services: reliability, 911 services, etc.