Responding to an inquiry made by the FCC to explore the transition to an IP-based communications network, AT&T has asked that a firm date be set for the total extinction of landlines.
“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 by-gone era,” AT&T wrote.
They continued: “It makes no sense to require service providers to operate and maintain two distinct networks when technology and consumer preferences have made one of them increasingly obsolete.”
Given AT&T’s fundamental inability to address the substandard service and network congestion caused by their iPhone exclusivity deal with Apple, it seems blushingly laughable that the telecom would now be asking for the death of landlines, which can only increase network congestion.
But AT&T has a point: for everything but businesses and emergency services, landlines are already a technology of the dodo. AT&T must spend considerable money every year maintaining an increasingly obsolete network, which means funneling away from the development of the clear and rapidly evolving future of telephone communication.
There are challenges to surmount in a solely VoIP and wireless telephony future, of course. The biggest is probably the emergency services dilemma: if power goes out, how do you place a 911 call when all of your communications depend on external power? But that’s ultimately what batteries are for, and many VoIP solutions already have emergency backup batteries for just such occasions.
AT&T’s right: in twenty years, no one is going to be using landlines anymore. Few enough people use them now. A firm end date and gradual transition away from maintaining a landline network behooves everyone… especially when we are talking about AT&T, a network which has consistently underestimated the network demand of the iPhone… small potatoes indeed to the congestion that the sudden end of landlines would prompt.