AT&T defends streamlining TDM-to-IP process

AT&T (NYSE: T) is defending its record on TDM-to-IP trials in Alabama and Florida, calling out Public Knowledge's statement about its request to streamline the transition process.

At issue is a letter Public Knowledge sent to the FCC. In that letter, the organization said that while it agrees that services with no customer demand should continue to be addressed using the existing procedures, shutting down a whole TDM system needs more study.

"With regard to discontinuances an entire TDM-based system as part of the tech transition, however, it is premature to discuss streamlining," Public Knowledge said in a letter to the FCC. "Although PK anticipates that streamlining will be appropriate after the Commission, carriers and local communities gain experience, that will take some time."

In response, AT&T says that Public Knowledge "asserts without any evidence that 'it is premature' for the Commission to adopt 'AT&T's Proposal to Streamline the Discontinuance Process for Technology Transitions.'"

The telco said that by the end of this year less than 10 percent of housing units where it operates as a wireline provider will continue to use TDM-based voice services.

AT&T said that since there's so "few customers remaining on legacy POTS, carriers should be able to utilize an efficient process to transition their remaining customers, such as the certification options in AT&T's Proposal."

Additionally, AT&T claims its proposal creates metrics to better understand customers that are affected by its TDM to IP transition, while offering a "reasonable notice requirements and discontinuance time frames."

PK told the FCC that it should create rules to measure network reliability and cybersecurity independent of 911 whether it's carried on TDM or a IP-based voice connection.

"All these networks, whether IP based or not, depend on the stability and reliability of the PSTN," Public Knowledge said. "Without some metric to ensure that the system will remain secure and reliable post-transition, the entire communications network for the United States becomes vulnerable."

For its part, AT&T counters that its "proposal ensures that customers' needs will be met and they will be fully informed during a technology transition."

In 2014, AT&T made Alabama and Florida the first two areas where it will conduct tests on all-IP services as part of its broader initiative to shut down its legacy copper and TDM-based network in 2020.

These tests are designed to give the FCC more information on permitting AT&T and other traditional telcos to stop offering traditional wireline voice service as more residential customers migrate towards wireless and over-the-top IP-based VoIP providers like Vonage and Skype for voice service.  

For more:
- see the AT&T FCC filing (PDF)
- and the Public Knowledge FCC filing (PDF)

Related articles:
AT&T to conduct TDM-to-IP transition tests in Alabama, Florida
The 1996 Telecom Act heads to the makeover room – Year in Review 2013
AT&T responds as Wheeler sets pace for TDM to IP transition
AT&T, Verizon execs cite 'chilling' effect of murky TDM-to-IP transition regs
IP technology transition trials proposed by FCC met with mixed response