CenturyLink proposes TDM-to-IP transition trial in Las Vegas

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) has asked the FCC for permission to conduct its own TDM-to-IP trials with a particular focus on business customers replacing their traditional POTS voice services with VoIP. The service provider expects the proposed trial in Las Vegas to last approximately six months in 12 wire centers.

Bandwidth and Inteliquent, two competitive IP voice providers, will participate in the trial.

CenturyLink said the trial will "examine the impacts of the TDM-to-IP transition from the perspectives of both a business end user replacing its traditional telephone services with VoIP services, and a CLEC that will use commercially-negotiated VoIP connectivity arrangements to exchange VoIP traffic that originates and terminates in IP format."

Given the challenges of maintaining a TDM-based network and the rural markets it serves, CenturyLink said transitioning its TDM-based networks to IP will take a number of years.

"With more than 4,000 central offices, and the estimated cost in the billions, this transition will likely stretch over a decade or longer," wrote CenturyLink. "As CenturyLink has discussed in previous filings, each provider will transition to IP at a different pace, depending on the nature of its legacy network and the services it offers. Given the vast rural areas served by CenturyLink, its transition will likely progress at a slower rate than for a provider serving predominately urban and suburban areas."

Under its plan, the service provider is proposing two components.

For the first component, CenturyLink plans to use its existing marketing channels to recruit business customers to voluntarily participate in the trial and report on their experience in transitioning from TDM to IP voice services, while collecting information on how to improve its processes in serving customers.

During the second component, CenturyLink's CLEC affiliate will exchange voice traffic that originates and terminates in Nevada in IP format with Bandwidth and Inteliquent.

CenturyLink said it will "work closely with the CLECs to identify any technical, operational and logistic difficulties and work through them collaboratively" while giving them a "chance to share their experiences with the Commission."

However, CenturyLink's proposed trial isn't without strings. The service provider has asked the FCC to exempt it from being required to provide SIP interconnection with other service providers outside of its trial.

CenturyLink said it would not "exchange any type of local voice traffic in IP format" since "virtually all CenturyLink's residential voice customers are still served via TDM services, and the vast majority of its business customers are as well."

In February, ILEC AT&T also proposed TDM-to-IP transition trials--one in rural Carbon Hill, Ala., and the other in a metro area in Florida. 

CenturyLink said since its Las Vegas trial will be mainly focused on business customers, it will provide a complement to AT&T's work on the TDM-to-IP transition.

"The trial will enable these three providers to work through operational, technical, and logistical issues associated with the transition, generating valuable information for the Commission and other interested parties to ensure that the "enduring values" identified in the Technology Transitions Order continue to be fulfilled," wrote CenturyLink in the FCC filing. "Given its focus on business users and VoIP interconnection, CenturyLink's proposed trial will provide a salient complement to AT&T's pending consumer-centered trial, and help facilitate this critical transition to next generation IP networks and services."

For more:
- see the FCC filing (.pdf)

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