AT&T’s plans for TDM-to-IP transition trials are clashing with efforts to de-regulate telecom – an initiative the company also has been championing.
Consumer advocates and ADT, one of the nation’s largest alarm companies, are asking Kentucky lawmakers to delay passing a telecom deregulation bill until the TDM-to-IP transition trials, to be overseen by the FCC, are completed, reports Public News Service. According to an AT&T proposal, TDM-to-IP transition trials would begin in late 2014 or early 2015 and run into 2017.
The Kentucky bill would allow major phone companies to stop providing landline service in parts of the state, Public News Service reports. If the bill were to pass, consumers would have to rely on VoIP over a broadband connection or a cellular service.
And if that were to occur, “there is some likelihood that alarm systems and/or medical alert systems may not be able to send signals to ADT’s monitoring centers,” ADT Vice President of Industry Relations Steve Shapiro told Public News Service.
TDM-to-IP transition trials aim to determine the best way for telephone companies to phase out traditional voice service and other services that rely on traditional telecom networks based on TDM. AT&T has proposed trials for suburban Miami and for rural Carbon Hill, Ala.
Some states have laws preventing phone companies from discontinuing traditional voice services, however. To address this, AT&T has been pushing for bills throughout its local service area that would end that requirement. The company has succeeded in getting such legislation passed in several states.
If a company like AT&T were to explain to customers that “you will lose the ability for 911 to find you, you will not be able to have medical monitoring done, your alarm system will no longer function, then customers might be more wary about switching to wireless,” said Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council, in Public News Service’s report.
Concerns about medical monitoring systems figured prominently in Verizon’s decision to deploy its FiOS fiber-to-the-home infrastructure on Fire Island, where its traditional TDM network was severely damaged. Verizon wanted to replace that network with a cellular-based offering but when the FCC said it couldn’t allow that without further study, Verizon opted to deploy FiOS.
An AT&T spokesman told Telecompetitor at the time the TDM-to-IP transition trials were announced that the company was committed to finding solutions to address alarm system issues and other interoperability concerns.
Ironically, ADT is widely viewed as a potential takeover target for a company like AT&T or Verizon looking to boost its home control and security initiatives.