TDM to IPThe TDM-to-IP transition trials that the FCC announced last week will include several types of trials, with a different objective for each trial type. In a 114-page order adopted last week and released Monday, the commission provides additional details about the trials, which are referred to in the order as “experiments” and which will include trials specifically targeting rural America, a numbering testbed trial and others.

“Modernizing communications networks can dramatically reduce network costs, allowing providers to serve customers with increased efficiencies that can lead to improved and innovative product offerings and lower priced services,” the order states. “The proceeding we initiate today is designed to position all the players. . . to prepare for, maintain and facilitate the momentum of technological advances that are already occurring.”

Included in the order are notices of proposed rulemaking and proposals outlining the experiments that the FCC envisions, including two broad categories of experiments which the commission calls “service-based” and “targeted” experiments.

“Service-based” experiments
“Service-based” experiments aim to examine potential impacts on key network values — public safety, ubiquitous and affordable access, competition and consumer protection. These experiments will “examine the impact of replacing existing customer services with IP-based alternatives in discrete geographic areas or ways,” the commission said.

The FCC said it anticipates issuing a final decision in May on proposals received by February 20. Proposals received after February 20 also will receive a “speedy review,” the FCC said.

In an appendix the FCC describes the “conditions, presumptions and relevant factors” it will consider in evaluating proposals.

Targeted” experiments include funding for rural trials
“Targeted” experiments and cooperative research aim to explore the impact of technology transitions that focus on universal access, the FCC said. These will include three types of trials:

  1. Commissioned research for persons with disabilities. This will be an inter-agency collaborative research program focused on IP-based technologies.
  2. Research and development of a numbering testbed. The FCC proposed to “facilitate” the development of a numbering testbed to “address concerns raised about number assignment and databases in an all-IP world without disrupting current systems.”
  3. Next-generation network experiments in areas of rural America that do not have broadband service or have only low-speed broadband. These experiments will be open to incumbent carriers and other network operators and the FCC aims to make funding available to support these trials. Money will come from the Universal Service program reserve fund.Trials in price cap areas aim to gain information to shape the competitive bidding process that will occur if an incumbent carrier declines to deploy broadband at the level of support offered by the FCC. Trials in rate-of-return territories aim to “provide a pathway to longer term reforms regarding support for broadband-capable infrastructure.” The commission also proposes trials aimed at determining how the broadband Connect America Fund could help spur the use of broadband for rural healthcare.

Additional details about the rural broadband experiments are provided in a post on Telecompetitor Plus. If you’re not already a Telecompetitor Plus subscriber you can sign up for a free trial subscription.

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