Is an All-IP Transition Imminent?

The move to migrate communications to an all-IP network from a legacy system is one of the most talked about debates in telecom these days.

There are many parties that fall on either side of the argument, but the main benefit touted by industry professionals is the hypercompetitive environment an all-IP future holds. The transition, however, is being pushed for a certain date.

According to Broadcasting Cable, honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) and Democrat Rick Boucher, along with Republican Jack Fields, CEO, Twenty-First Century Group, are in agreement that a new communications law needs to “break down old regulatory silos.” In addition, the political agenda needs to be removed.

Earlier this year, The FCC voted unanimously to begin conducting voluntary trials to ensure a relatively smooth and reasonable transition away from the PSTN and copper networks. The FCC insists that the process of ensuring a smooth transition away from the PSTN will be guided by four major principles:

  • Public safety communications must be available no matter the technology
  • All Americans must have access to affordable communications services
  • Competition in the marketplace provides choice for consumers and businesses
  • Consumer protection is paramount

According to Fields, there is opportunity on both sides of the aisle to work together in true bipartisan manner on new communications law. The Voice Communication Exchange says that putting an end to telecom regulations and circuit switched PSTN because it will, it is assumed, to put to rest the very dated Communication Act of 1934, as well as updates and corresponding regulations. These have long been criticized for being unconstitutional and opening the doors for takeovers and acquisitions, leading to communication monopolies.

Boucher says an all-IP system would not be without regulation, rather “companies should not be forced to maintain that old network, designed by Alexander Graham Bell in the late 1800s and still functioning essentially in the same way, as though it were the principal communications network,” writes Broadcasting Cable.

With traditional legacy networks, expansion leads to complexity, which then leads to reduced network quality and increased ancillary costs in transmission, equipment rooms, power consumption and human resources. Many seem to misunderstand that this issue is not a left versus right one politically, but rather a future versus past argument on the human level.