A competitive carrier that has reseller agreements with all of the major local phone service providers wants to know how AT&T plans to handle resellers in its TDM-to-IP transition plans. The company, Granite Telecommunications, has 1.3 or 1.4 million TDM voice lines, including 400,000 to 500,000 from AT&T, said Sam Kline, senior vice president of corporate strategy for Granite, in an interview.
Granite may be uniquely positioned to participate in AT&T’s proposed TDM-to-IP transition trials targeted for Carbon Hill, Ala. and suburban Miami because the reseller has customers in both of those markets.
“We’re very interested in seeing what AT&T has in mind and how this trial would work,” said Kline, who added that AT&T’s initial filing with the FCC doesn’t provide much detail about how competitors would be involved.
Granite customers include gas stations and food chains that like the convenience of getting a single bill and having a single point of contact for all of their telecom needs nationwide, Kline explained. Accordingly, he said, “We tend to be almost everywhere” – even Carbon Hill (population 6,594).
AT&T’s trial proposal calls for replacing traditional voice service with alternatives that use IP communications over LTE or high-speed DSL. Kline said he would like to know if those are the alternatives that resellers will be offered and whether pricing will be comparable to what Granite is paying for current services.
Granite made its desire to participate in AT&T’s proposed trials known in a press release issued Thursday by competitive carrier association Comptel. Kline said Granite has since received an email from AT&T stating that it is aware of the press release and appreciates Granite’s interest.
In a proposal filed with the FCC about the TDM-to-IP transition trials, AT&T said it has “endeavored to identify the extent to which wholesale customers are active in the two trial wire centers, as well as the legacy TDM products and services they are obtaining and their IP-based replacements, and to develop plans for engaging those customers in the trials and encouraging them to purchase the replacement products and services.”
Long term, AT&T said it would continue to make copper loops without electronics available to wholesale customers that want to use them. But what the carrier has in mind for wholesale customers that resell AT&T services is less clear.
A redacted section in the portion of AT&T’s filing focused on wholesale customers appears addressed toward resellers. “AT&T…is working diligently to develop IP replacement services that it will make available for [CONFIDENTIAL – NOT FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE],” the section reads. “AT&T’s objective is to complete those development efforts, as well as those aimed at developing an IP-based alternative to the Local Wholesale Complete product, as soon as possible, although it is likely the final commercial products will not be available until the trials already are underway.”
AT&T also said wholesaler participation in the TDM-to-IP transition trials will be voluntary.
It looks like the company already has at least one volunteer.