AT&T has asked the FCC to create a timetable that would allow the company to shut down its analog public switched telephone network (PSTN). AT&T said doing so is the only way to meet Congress' goal of covering all Americans with broadband services as more investment would flow to its IP-based initiatives.
"That transition is under way already," AT&T wrote to the FCC. "With each passing day, more and more communications services migrate to broadband and IP-based services, leaving the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and plain-old telephone service (POTS) as relics of a bygone era."
AT&T argues that having to maintain and invest in two networks--broadband and the PSTN--means Congress' goal won't be met efficiently or timely. The company said that while 90 percent of Americans have access to broadband services, reaching that last 10 percent would require an investment of about $350 billion. Meanwhile, AT&T continues to struggle with its own 3G network because of data hungry smartphone users.
"Due to technological advances, changes in consumer preference and market forces, the question is when, not if, POTS service and the PSTN over which it is provided will become obsolete," AT&T wrote to the FCC.
AT&T also said that less than 20 percent of Americans rely exclusively on POTS for voice service, while 25 percent of households have abandoned POTS. It noted that some 700,000 lines are being turned off each month.
AT&T outlined steps for shutting down the PSTN and wants the FCC to swiftly follow them. AT&T's letter was in response to a public query from the FCC seeking comment on how the nation should migrate from circuit-switched networks to all-IP voice networks.
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