“IP interconnection is technically feasible today and competitive and incumbent carriers alike recognize that using IP interconnection to exchange carriers’ voice calls is vastly more efficient than interconnection using Time Division Multiplexing … technology," COMPTEL wrote in an amici curiae brief supporting Sprint. “In particular, IP interconnection allows carriers to connect their networks out for fewer locations than TDM interconnection and thereby substantially reduces network facility costs."
In the earlier case before the Arbitration Panel, AT&T Michigan said the PSC shouldn’t address the IP interconnection issue because the FCC was considering it and the company doesn’t own an IP switch for AT&T to connect to.
Court records indicate AT&T Michigan owns a softswitch in another state through an affiliate SBC Internet Services. But AT&T said it would need to make substantial modifications to its network in order to accommodate Sprint. Imposing such an obligation on AT&T would violate the Telecom Act’s prohibition against the requirement that a local exchange carrier offer access to a superior network that has not been constructed, AT&T said.
AT&T also argued the PSC is requiring the company to bear costs and provide interconnection at rates that violate federal law.
In a court filing in support of AT&T, CenturyLink reportedly said there is no concern today as there was 18 years ago that competitive carriers will be unable to interconnect with a local exchange carrier.
COMPTEL rejected that argument. Local phone companies are replacing TDM technology with IP, and AT&T has asked the FCC to eventually release incumbents from the obligation to maintain legacy networks, the trade association said.
With droves of customers abandoning legacy phone service in favor of such alternatives as mobile and voice over IP, maintaining a traditional network is expensive, AT&T has told the FCC. The number of switched access lines has plummeted from around 200 million at the turn of the millennium, to 96 million, while the number of VoIP lines has surged 80 percent since 2008, to 42 million, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said earlier this year.
With TDM switching on the decline, the FCC has requested that local phone companies negotiate IP interconnection agreements in good faith, according to the PSC. All such agreements must be filed with a state commission for approval, COMPTEL said.
AT&T’s appeal is before Chief Judge Paul Maloney, case 1:14-cv-00416-PLM.