AT&T to FCC: Drop The Landline Requirement

Thanks to a sharp decline in landline use, AT&T has asked the FCC to drop its requirement that phone carriers provide analog landline services. In its 32-page filing located here, AT&T wants the FCC to provide a deadline for phasing out old analog system. According to GigaOM, one in five Americans still use land-based analog services; the rest rely on mobile phones and VoIP as primary means of communication.

But what AT&T doesn't provide in its document to the FCC is a means to bridge the gap for those who still rely on landlines. The document also doesn't address how the government will be able to drag online the 33-percent of consumers not subscribing to broadband. What AT&T did provide was data that indicated AT&T is losing money maintaining the analog system while consumers jump onto wireless and VoIP services.

According to the filing, revenue generated from land-based analog services fell 27-percent, racking in $178.6 billion in 2000 down to $130.8 billion in 2007. AT&T also indicated that at least 18 million households subscribe to VoIP services, and that cable companies will provide VoIP to more than 24 million subscribers by 2010.

AT&T's request to the FCC also asked that broadband regulatory jurisdiction be at the federal level rather than on a local or state level. The company also wants the FCC to determine how to deal with disabled consumers and public safety situations in a VoIP environment.

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  • AT&T only wants this because they bet the farm on their Uverse product. VOIP is not a reliable replacement for copper twisted pair, at least, not as it's currently being implemented. Lose power, lose your VOIP. AT&T supplied battery backups for consumers give only ~4 hours of run time (that's if the power doesn't fail at the cross-over boxes as well). Most customers will never think to check their UPS status and when they reach the end of their batteries lifespan, customers will suddenly lose their phone service and internet access if a power outage occurs.

    I've been in the red zone of a cat 5 hurricane and several cat 3+. No power for weeks to a month. Cell phone towers leveled and not rebuilt for over 4 months. Only thing that worked through both events was the simple, archaic copper pair landline (even had internet with a dial-up modem). Current VOIP services are just too dicey for emergencies.
  • Other Comments
  • captaincharisma
    is north America really ready to give up the land line phone system? cell phone plans can be expensive and VOIP may still have some issues with emergency calls

    one thing with landlines i like is you get to see the name of the caller on the caller ID unlike a cellphone where all you get is the phone number. at least in canada that is how it works
  • megabyteme6662002
    So the fat cats want the government to pay for more stuff like we don't have enough problems with our economy already..? AT&T sure won't be the ones paying to get the people that rely on land lines wireless, so taxpayers will. Doesn't sound like a good deal to anybody but AT&Ts bonus checks. One thing that is good about old school phone lines that is often overlooked is they still work sometimes when your electricity goes out in your house (assuming its not a cordless phone.) This is very handy.. Also during times of emergency, cell phone towers seem to fill up fast.
  • I have an analog landline and I will keep it for now. I'm in the middle of a large suburb but our cell coverage is bad, certainly not good enough to rely on for emergency calls. And our internet service is far less reliable than our analog landline.

    If ATT wants to build more towers, and if someone wants to build a home phone system that works off of cell towers, then we might consider switching, IF the price is comparable.

    ATT came into our neighborhood some years ago and sold us on their new "fixed wireless" system. The put an antenna on our roof, cur our phone line, and plugged our home phone into their transceiver box. It worked fine. Then a year later they changed their mind, told us they were quitting this service in our area, and told us to crawl back to our old phone company on our hands and knees and beg for their service back. So I don't trust ATT anymore.