USTelecom, Verizon Laud Separate FCC Network Tech Transition Updates

Edward GatelyThe Federal Communications Commission Thursday further updated its rules for telcos seeking to update services from legacy to modern voice technologies.

The new framework will give carriers the “clarity they need to transition quickly to innovative services and at the same time ensure continued protections for consumers, competition, public safety and universal service,” according to the FCC.

Voice service providers are transitioning from legacy network technology – known as time-division multiplexing or TDM – to services using Internet protocol (IP) technology and wireless. Under the new rules, a company’s application to end legacy, TDM-based voice service in a technology transition can be automatically granted in 30 days if the applicant meets a “clear, objective” three-pronged test.{ad}

USTelecom's Walter McCormickAccording to the FCC, this test recognizes that while many consumers have welcomed new services, legacy technologies remain relevant for others.

The test expedites transitions in which:

  • Network performance, reliability and coverage are substantially unchanged for customers.
  • Access to 911, cybersecurity and access for people with disabilities meets current rules and standards.
  • Compatibility with a defined list of legacy services still popular with consumers and small businesses, including home security systems, medical monitoring devices, credit-card readers and fax machines, subject to sunset in 2025, is assured.

The test is voluntary for carriers. Requests to discontinue also can be reviewed through the FCC’s normal adjudicatory channels.

Trade group USTelecom supports the FCC’s action.

“USTelecom is pleased the FCC has unanimously approved our petition to change the regulatory treatment of traditional phone service providers so they are no longer considered ‘dominant’ providers of voice service, a logical step given that over 80 percent of U.S. households use alternatives to that service,” said Walter McCormick, USTelecom president. “We welcome the Commission’s recognition that the voice market has changed, and the regulatory relief granted today will allow the industry some additional flexibility to better compete and innovate, a step that will benefit consumers and competition. Similarly, we hope that the Commission’s order establishing a streamlined path to substitute new Internet-based services for aging ones will help create more modern, innovative communications networks and services.”

Also Thursday, the FCC adopted new rules for …


… wireless broadband operations in frequencies above 24 GHz, making the U.S. the first country in the world to make this spectrum available for next-generation wireless services.

The rules “set a strong foundation for the rapid advancement to next-generation 5G networks and technologies in the United States,” according to the FCC.

The rules open nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for flexible, mobile and fixed-use wireless broadband – 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum. The rules create a new Upper Microwave Flexible Use service in the 28 GHz (27.5-28.35 GHz), 37 GHz (37-38.6 GHz), and 39 GHz (38.6-40 GHz) bands, and a new unlicensed band at 64- 71 GHz.

“The FCC’s decision today to make thousands of megahertz of high-frequency spectrum available will be a critical building block in our country’s 5G future,” said Craig Silliman, Verizon’s general counsel and executive vice president for public policy. “It will lead to more consumer choice for home broadband and connect many more devices to accommodate the explosion of the Internet of Everything.”

Doug Brake, a telecommunications policy analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said the action is a “bright spot in recent FCC rulemakings.”

“By freeing up this millimeter-wave spectrum to be capitalized upon by new technology, the FCC is putting the United States on the path for leadership in deploying 5G wireless systems,” he said. “This is the first authorization of this kind in the world — the FCC deserves praise for being a first-mover in clearing the way for innovative new uses of this spectrum.”

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