I’ve seen that The Wall Street Journal had done a story on the demise of landlines here in the States. because there’s a paywall, I didn’t read it. AT&T (read the old SBC) and Verizon (the old NYNEX/Bell Atlantic) have been lobbying in DC to start “sunsetting” landlines by the end of this decade.
Thanks to Hurricane Sandy which just flattened parts of New York Tri state area, both AT&T and Verizon both had made decisions to not rewire copper in the effected areas. The former company serves Connecticut (formerly SBC’s SNET division.) In lieu of rewiring the coastal areas of the NYC area, they want fiber instead.
This is where things get effie if you asked me. Fiber and cable like services are less regulated than the landlines. Both companies are competing against Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable to provide “triple play” services (IP like voice, IP based data and even IP based TV masked as digital cable to the end consumer) and in order to do that, the telco companies have to use that architecture that is much different than the voice heavy systems like the 5ESS, the DMS-100, etc.
Landline costs are more expensive because of the iron grade equipment that puts a lot of energy use and the costs to maintain them. I actually think that’s bogus especially when the Lucents of the world had gone with the Avayas, the Ciscos and the Nortels of the world to go from those iron grade automated telephone switches to the “gateways” or those 19″ wide rack mounting systems to please those wimpy IT guys. And most gateways use a standard electrical plugs often found in PCs.
Even with those costs, its the regulation the big Bell companies bitch about. I think these Bell companies are actually being real jerks about it. Landlines are designed to provide reliability, those five-nines people love. Pick up the set and you get a dial tone (unless the world comes to an end!) While most land lines can support modern technology via ISDN or QSIG, I do know that added services (like call waiting, calling line ID) can get very expensive. I for one use phone services from Comcast, and it’s very reliable, but yet we’ve only had one disaster (the Halloween 2011 blizzard) and we did loose voice about a day after we lost power. This was before my grandmother had lived in my family’s house. And even if the thing lasted for a day, if we were on the phone, it drains the power supply.
I think companies like Lucent and others should be developing solutions in the meantime.
I do not like the idea of a “triple play”/mobile world. It opens a lot of concerns in terms of reliability or worse the reliability of E-911. Not to sound jerky like the product manager at the leading PBX (what’s a PBX again?) vendor, but it is a concern. Digital voice is IP and think of it as a mobile phone. It isn’t location based like the landlines because the landline is a hard wired connection from your demark box outside your house and tied to the local central office on that same copper. The location is dependent on the administrator enters in or what you have told to your provider.
On reliability: is it a logical idea (other than lowering your telecommunications bill) to have a micro 5ESS on your cable modem? Businesses are like “we already have done this with our T1 and understand the responsibilities of keeping our Adtran running at peak reliability, whats the big deal?” The problem is Adtran like devices are going in the masses since the boom of “digital voice.” That is what the cable guys give to you. In order to keep it reliable during outages, you are responsible for the reliability.
In the landline system, the telco provides those five-nine reliability. I think the system needs to be improved where the micro-5ESS or the micro-DMS moves from the modem to the “last mile.” With low powered PCs becoming popular or even movement of Software Defined Networking (or SDN) becoming a sexy subject, I love to see those huge boxes in the neighborhoods (called the “last mile” similar to the telephony world) become more intelligent. At those locations, you can attach power to the local power line on the telephone poles and put UPS like batteries with the existing batteries in the modems. I don’t know if that’s an actual concept or what, but that will be needed in order to have a successful “sunsetting” of landline services.
Also these telco companies need to be honest and explain this in plain English. The problem is a lot of people are speaking vague terms to people who can’t understand the difference between VOIP like services vs. TDM landline services. The Big Bell companies need to educate the public before the inevitable cutover (the biggest since eliminating the switchboard operator) happens in 7 years or so.