AT&T wants to put the PSTN out to pasture

It's hard to imagine that the same company that consumers relate to as their phone company, AT&T, is keen on doing away with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS).

In response to the FCC's call for public comment on how the U.S. should migrate from circuit-switched network to all-IP voice networks, AT&T argues that it should be allowed to phase out networks that are "relics of a by-gone era."

AT&T argues that if the FCC does not allow service providers to make this move it will stifle the government's broadband ambitions. "Congress' goal of universal access to broadband will not be met in a timely or efficient manner if providers are forced to continue to invest in and to maintain two networks," AT&T said in the filing.

Although 90 percent of the U.S. population has access to broadband service, AT&T estimates it would take a $350 billion investment to close that 10 percent gap. Of course, as reported in FierceBroadbandWireless AT&T's plea comes at a time when the telco's wireless division continues to struggle with consumers' insatiable wireless data appetite.  

In fact, AT&T says that consumers' migration away from the PSTN is only a matter of time. "Due to technological advances, changes in consumer preference, and market forces, the question is when, not if, POTS service and the PSTN over which it is provided will become obsolete," AT&T said.

Proof of the PSTN's decline continues to be seen at AT&T and its fellow RBOC brothers Qwest and Verizon who each quarter report continued voice line loss. During the recent quarter, AT&T's traditional voice lines dropped to about 47.9 million while wireless and IP-based services continued to rise.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

Related articles
AT&T to FCC - Kill the PSTN
FCC wants information on the PSTN's all-IP migration
AT&T Q3 '09: Wireline revenues to take another hit
FCC looking to an all IP communications future