Happy Independence Day everyone! I sincerely hope you're listening to this or reading this while at a family barbecue or event, but if you're one of the many readers I have from public safety, and you happen to be at work today, thanks for doing what you, and the holidays you quite often give up to provide a level of safety for the rest of us.
One of the various NENA groups that I participated in is the Private Sector and Government Affairs Advisory Group or (PSGAAG). (We have got to come up with a better name or acronym for that group! What a mouthfull!)
One of the things that the group keeps an eye on is the FCC's Technology Advisory Council. The TAC released, on June 30, a report that apparently has generated a great deal of chatter in Washington, DC as well as the trade press. The slide deck recommends that the FCC accelerate the transition from legacy TDM-based PSTN technology to an all IP infrastructure, which is no big surprise and not in the least bit unexpected. What was so astounding was that the report actually targeted a date where the circuit-switched voice elements of the PSTN would no longer constitute the network of record in the United States. Wait a second! Let me read that again, and pay close attention to the verbiage; the report stated that the FCC should set a date after which the circuit-switched voice elements of the PSTN would no longer constitute the network of record in the United States.
If you didn't get it the second time, I'll put it in plain English. The Technical Advisory Council, Critical Legacy Transition Working Group, has a draft on the table that eliminates the PSTN network as we know it today.
This obviously is a huge impact on anyone connecting to the network, from residential services, to enterprise networks, and everything in between. The report draft suggested seven recommendations and are as follows:
- Target 2018 as the end of the PSTN.
- Develop a time line to ensure smooth transition which addresses stranded assets
- Assure that mobile and/or broadband replacements are available everywhere PSTN is currently provided. The need will be greatest in role areas.
- Update the National Broadband Plan to support the PSTN transition.
- Change the Universal Service Fund (USF) funding and spending to support universal coverage and other social goals.
- Further investigate emergency service impact to assure a suitable replacement capability.
- Investigate incentive program for mediation devices to bridge older devices without PSTN or towards purchasing new equipment (consumer focused)
Now you're probably sitting back and thinking "Hold on a second!", "What brought on this initiative?" What is happening is as the number of subscribers on the public network decreases, the cost of maintaining and operating the network do not decrease at the same rate. You end up with a large number being split up across less people, effectively increasing the individual cost to each user.
This is happening today, at incredible rates, and is known as "cord-cutting". Two specific events accelerate this problem even more. The first is the common practice of wire-line to wireless displacement that is happening in our younger population. The second, is the IP-based network replacement or substitution for fixed and mobile communications.
Before we can figure out what to do, we need to put a little structure around the problem. So the Technical Advisory Committee asked to key questions.
1. What is the size of the PSTN transition for Service Providers?In other words, how big of a problem is this actually.
2. How can we further accelerate this transition?
This is what I call the "Band-Aid" model. Not because I'm in a do something to help the problem limp along, what can I do to rip it off in one swoop.
To answer these questions the report came up with the following findings that I found interesting:
- by 2014, the US will have fewer than 42 million access lines
- in the one-year period between 2Q09 and 2Q10, there was a wired line loss of 6.6 million or 7.3%
- by 2014 US consumers will have 31.6 million wireless lines which will account for over 42% of all US access lines
- fixed lines continued to decline; mobile is the preferred choice for voice communication
- more than 25% of US consumers 18 or older have already given up their voice land-line for voice wireless only service
This is a significant problem. Not only is it a technology change that affects both businesses and residential users, it affects public safety. It took seven years for the NENA i3 standard to be recognized, and it's going to take several more years to complete and implement. So what does the Technical Advisory Committee recommend?
The FCC should take steps to prepare for the inevitable transition from the PSTN, and expedite that transition with a target date of 2018. The recommend that incentives should be provided for network operators to provide broadband services that support voice to rural areas and underserved America. Funding should be provided to PSAP's so they can accelerate their integration to next generation 911. Regulatory requirements need to be realigned with new and emerging technologies, and network providers need to work with the security and emergency alarms industry associations to push for IP adoption. Most importantly the national broadband plan needs to be brought in alignment with the PSTN sunset timetable to assure that adequate broadband and mobile capability is available everywhere that the PSTN is today.
So when is the existing PSTN network going away? According to this group, sometime before the next decade.
You can read the report yourself here: http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/tac/TACJune2011mtgfullpresentation.pdf
Tell me; what do you think?
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Until next week. . . dial carefully.
Posted 1 Jul 2011 at 05:27 PM