Carriers in the United States are mandated by law to maintain and offer copper-based landline phone service even though the technology is well over half a century old. The FCC is taking its first steps today to modernize that system with a new order that calls for companies like AT&T and Verizon to submit proposals for how to provide telephone service of the future using IP, the protocol that’s used to transmit data on the internet.
Federal regulators have taken their first major step in accelerating the country’s move toward high-capacity, fiber optic phone networks. In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved a program of trials designed to study the effects of shifting consumers onto next-generation infrastructure that will be able to carry advanced services like HD voice calls and video. The trials will be set up in select places around the country by participating carriers as a prelude to a much larger transition that will have the nation’s phone calls routed using the same Internet Protocol that powers the Web. The move led some at the FCC to draw comparisons to a sexier industry, software development.