The telecommunications industry is unquestionably entering a time of sweeping change. With the Technology Transition Trials we begin the evolution from the time-division multiplexed Public Switched Telephone Network (“PSTN”) toward an all Internet Protocol (“IP”) infrastructure. The significant economic and consumer benefits of this transition have long been recognized, making the question of a transition not “if” but “how quickly?”
The transition to an all IP infrastructure may well fuel a wealth of new services and capabilities and, given the un-constrained world of IP, could also fuel new business models all at a pace that will challenge innovators, services providers, regulators and consumers. There is no blueprint to navigate this transformation; it will be fraught with challenges and risk.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has remarked that “[t]he way forward is to encourage technological change while preserving the attributes of network services that customers have come to expect – that set of values we have begun to call the Network Compact.” At a high level, there is general agreement on the values of the Network Compact, but how will the various industry players actually move forward with implementing them? What are the changes to basic infrastructure, routing, and numbering that will have to take place?