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AT&T VP says the telephone network is obsolete, pushes for "All-IP telco", no regulation

Posted: , by Michael H.

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AT&T VP says the telephone network is obsolete, pushes for
We've said it before and we'll say it again. The dream is to ditch the traditional telephone network and simply have a data pipe coming into our smartphones, and it looks like that's the aim of AT&T as well. AT&T's federal regulatory division VP, Hank Hultquist, even did a talk on the subject at CES, saying that the telephone network is obsolete, and he wants to push towards an "all-IP telco".

AT&T actually petitioned the FCC a couple months ago to make a plan for the inevitable time when the traditional telephone networks have to be retired, because the market is moving towards all-IP telcos. Speaking on the matter yesterday, Hultquist said:
This telephone network we've grown up with is now an obsolete platform, or at least a rapidly obsolescing platform. It will not be sustainable for the indefinite future. Nobody's 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 expectation internally at AT&T is that the full retirement of the traditional telephone networks could happen as soon as 2018. Hultquist made some very good points about the limitations of traditional networks, especially in sound fidelity, saying that "we're still using the same frequency response, 300 to 3300Hz" that we were 80 years ago. HD voice is starting to make a push, but that's still a big issue, given that human hearing has range up to 20,000Hz, and according to an intrepid reader, the voice has a range about twice as wide as our phones can handle at about 7000Hz. Phone calls may sound good enough, but they could sound far better. 

Of course, AT&T's motives aren't about giving customers better products. The real motivation to move to an all-IP telco is in the expectation that such a change would remove the FCC regulations on carriers. In the petition to the FCC, AT&T said of the regulatory environment:
AT&T believes that this regulatory experiment will show that conventional public-utility style regulation is no longer necessary or appropriate in the emerging all-IP ecosystem.

The carrier went on to say that "monopoly-era regulatory obligations" aren't justified in the competitive marketplace known as the Internet. The big trouble with that statement is that it confuses the competitive marketplace known as the Internet, with the non-competitive marketplace known as Internet Service Providers. Moving to all-IP telcos won't mean a boon in competition if rural areas can still only choose Verizon or AT&T for service. 

We're all for the move to all-IP telcos, but carriers still need regulations, because the USA is a large country with some very spread out areas, and those areas aren't always rife with choice that you see in metropolitan areas. Making everything run on a data pipe doesn't change that, but it will make for some very interesting battles in the years to come.

source: Ars Technica

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posted on 08 Jan 2013, 11:05 10

1. ckoch125 (Posts: 191; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


That way they can come up with new plans to rape all of their customers for charging a ridiculous amount for data only plans.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 11:10 4

2. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)


That's the only bad part about it. VoIP is a great idea from telecommunication, imagine free calls to all over the world for one flat rate. Too bad it's not going to happen any time soon.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 15:48 3

9. Bernoulli (Posts: 1437; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


unless Google buys t-mobile USA lol

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 11:49 3

3. VZWuser76 (Posts: 1299; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)


Two things. First, the human voice cannot reach 20,000 Hz. The human ear in some instances can HEAR 20kHz, but the vocal cords cannot produce it. The upper limit on human voice is around 7kHz, maybe slightly higher for trained/talented singers. But I guess with that range we'd be able to hear Muzak in it's full brilliance while on hold. We don't need more frequency range, we need a CLEARER & LOUDER signal, with either longer tower range or more towers to allow for greater ability to make, receive, and hold calls.

Second, no regulations for these guys? Are you kidding me? Look at the price of things now WITH regulations. There trying to say it'll be better without them? Maybe for their bottom line but definitely not for consumers. I don't relish the idea of getting a loan to have cell service.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 12:18 1

5. MorePhonesThanNeeded (Posts: 618; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


I was reading the article and saw that who no regulation, almost fell out of my chair. These guys are so full of it, I really want them to become dumb pipes now and before we get to this all digital network system. Nearly half my cell bill is taxes and other junk, so higher payouts for cell bill do not make me happy to have cell service at all.
Right now VoIP is a monster drain on batteries in a cell phone so well, they can keep dreaming. I doubt that none of the cell providers help with improving the technology associated with VoIP, I don't understand them pushing things so much. Help with the power drain issue first then possibly the uptake of the technology will take off even faster.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 13:01 1

7. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2662; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I guess I misread my research, thanks for the correction. I've edited the article accordingly.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 12:16 3

4. threed61 (Posts: 126; Member since: 27 May 2011)


Wish the "deathstar" would work as hard to make bad service obsolete.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 12:54 2

6. Mobilephile (Posts: 69; Member since: 25 Nov 2012)


Hurry up Google Wireless, VOIP is the future

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 13:42 2

8. downphoenix (Posts: 2293; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


I understand that when he says this, he is saying this solely for the pursuit of profit, and that is what most companies strive to do. But they don't even have any tact or grace, they just have it out in the open that they are out to screw everyone over. Good going AT&T.

posted on 08 Jan 2013, 19:11

10. corporateJP (Posts: 1548; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)


AT&T...LOL...

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