TDM to IPFCC officials said today that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is circulating two items suggesting that the commission take further action on two aspects of the TDM-to-IP transition. One item is a notice of proposed rulemaking focused on copper retirement and aimed at ensuring that public safety, consumers and competition are protected as network operators convert today’s copper- and TDM-based phone networks to IP-based networks. A second NPRM focuses on ensuring 911 reliability during this transition.

Copper Retirement
The NPRM focused on protecting consumers, public safety, and competition has three key components, senior FCC officials told reporters on a conference call today.

These include proposals aimed at:

  1. Ensuring that consumers can call 911, electric utilities and the like during a power outage even if they are using phone service delivered over cable or fiber infrastructure. Traditional phone service delivered over copper wiring provides power to the handset from the central office while the alternative delivery methods require backup power.
  2. Ensuring that customers are notified if a service provider plans to retire its traditional copper phone network
  3. Ensuring that competition is not harmed if telcos discontinue a legacy service, possibly by requiring the telcos to make equivalent replacement services available to competitors

FCC 911 Proposal
The second NPRM was triggered by a recent increase in what are commonly referred to as “sunny day” 911 outages caused not by a weather or other emergency but instead result from equipment failures, officials said. The impact of those failures has become more pronounced as the nation’s 911 infrastructure has become more centralized.

The NPRM makes proposals in four areas:

  1. Establishing a notification process that would inform the public of changes to 911 systems
  2. Requiring companies that are part of the 911 ecosystem to be more accountable to the public and ensuring that all parties understand their important roles
  3. Promoting situational awareness during 911 outages, including establishing a single point of contact during service restoration
  4. Expanding the types of entities involved in the 911 ecosystem requiring FCC certification

The commission is expected to vote on both NPRMs at a meeting in late November.

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