The FCC is considering putting policies in place to “facilitate” the sale or auction of copper infrastructure that telephone service providers plan to retire as part of the TDM-to-IP transition, FCC officials said today. Additionally the commission is considering policies aimed at ensuring consumers have battery-powered telephones so that they will be able to make phone calls in the event of a power outage, officials said.
These potential requirements are just two of numerous potential policies the commission is considering in a notice of proposed rulemaking, declaratory ruling and order about the TDM-to-IP transition adopted at the monthly FCC meeting today. Also at today’s meeting, the FCC adopted a policy statement and notice of proposed rulemaking that propose mechanisms designed to prevent 911 outages caused, in part, by the TDM-to-IP transition.
Both the TDM-to-IP transition and 911 initiatives were previewed late last month when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler began circulating draft versions of documents adopted today.
TDM-to-IP Transition Issues Considered
Moves that the commission is considering with regard to the TDM-to-IP transition fall into several broad categories, officials explained:
- Establishing reasonable expectations for phone service during an outage in a technology-neutral manner
- Defining copper retirement, seeking comment about how to ensure that new services meet consumers’ needs before legacy services are retired, and seeking comment about whether service providers are allowing copper facilities to deteriorate in anticipation of a transition to fiber facilities
- Establishing policies to promote competition during a TDM-to-IP transition by requiring carriers to replace legacy wholesale services with equivalent services at equivalent rates, terms and conditions (this is the category in which the copper auction idea is floated)
The FCC’s actions on 911 modernization were a follow-up on recommendations made at last month’s FCC meeting, where the commission heard a presentation about the causes and impacts of recent 911 outages. Such outages have been on the rise because certain 911 functions increasingly are being centralized, which means that errors involving centralized systems can impact 911 service in multiple states.
The FCC is considering several requirements including:
- Requiring 911 service providers to file a public notice if they plan to change how service is delivered
- Establishing requirements aimed at improving situational awareness during a 911 outage
- Establishing a class of 911 responders that will have lead responsibilities for coordinating information sharing during a 911 outage
- Extending rules governing 911 service to all entities involved in providing that service
- Establishing testing procedures for software and databases supporting 911 services and requiring providers of the software and databases to share certain information