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July 15, 2011

Telecom 2018 Guest Post by Dan Berninger

The post below is by Dan Berninger who was one of the most important people behind the early spread of VoIP. Dan understands telecom like almost no one else. Opinions in this post are Dan's alone, but Dan's opinions are always worth listening to.

Dan's post:

Organizers of the "Telecom 2018 Workshop", set for July 28, 2011 in Washington, DC, invite speaker, panel, and participation proposals (via email to dan@danielberninger.com). The free workshop explores the meaning, roadmap, and opportunities associated with the FCC Technical Advisory Council (TAC) recommendation for a "date certain" sunset of the PSTN . The track record strongly suggests working backward from a date certain represents the only means to discipline the diverse group of public and commercial interests with stakes in telecom sector transformation. Former FCC Chairman Dick Wiley will open the workshop with comments on the analog to digital transition associated with HDTV as a case study on how the move to all IP networks can enable HD voice and other new services.

The June 29, 2011 FCC TAC "date certain" recommendation represents a bookend to 100 years of telecom developments following the 1913 Kingsbury Commitment <link wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsbury_Commitment>. A "date certain" finally gives the telecom industry permission to pursue a forward looking vision incorporating realities of the post-Internet communication landscape. The fact that telco stocks trade at 20% of the revenue-to-enterprise value multiple of infotech sector leaders owes to a decade fighting the wrong battle. There exists no path to rationalize or reform PSTN regulation in a manner suitable for the present landscape. The embrace of Internet-enabled modes of communication ended the exclusive franchise assumption underlying 100 years of regulation.

Information services may not offer precise substitutes for voice offers defined as "telecom services", but neither do "telecom services" enjoy the exclusive franchise used as justification for carrier of last resort and other public interest obligations. Voice no longer behaves as a market distinct from other forms of communication. Email destroys far more telephone calls than Skype.

Energies consumed in backward looking attempts to reform PSTN regulation do not help carriers compete in a communication market that includes Facebook, Twitter, and Google Voice. Twitter with less than 1000 employees generates six times the media coverage of AT&T. The daily proliferation of Internet enabled applications illustrates the unbounded demand for services that help humans communicate.

Carriers need not interfere with bits in order to avert "dumb pipe" Purgatory after 2018. Carriers can move up stream and offer new communication services (aka anything other than plain-old-telephone-service.) An antidote to over-the-top offers exists in offering HD voice, social media, or any new new thing as a federation of carriers. The managed federation aspect of traditional voice services need not disappear with the PSTN. The two modes of over-the-top offers in the form of open federation (email, web) and walled gardens (Facebook, Skype) representing two ends of the federation continuum. The carriers can use managed federations, well established brands, and a reputation for reliability to re-take the high ground in communications.

The longstanding focus on allocating scarcity with consolidation and background economic expansion as the only means to generate growth does deserve retirement. The scarcity formula still exists in the provision of Internet access; but, as a practical matter, end user time and attention represent the only scarcity in the present communication landscape. Major expansions of enterprise value require the type of revenue growth that comes from generating new demand. Net neutrality serves carriers by giving their new communication services de-facto global roaming. Carriers focused on generating new demand can start to serve a role similar to Cisco in networking equipment or Google in web services by acquiring the most promising communication startups.

A "date certain" end-of-life for the PSTN saves further investment in unwinding the Gordian Knot. The "Telecom 2018 Workshop" on July 28th represents a first opportunity for the telecom industry to dream and start to define a roadmap to the future. The morning sessions will include perspectives on questions that need to be addressed in setting the "date certain". The afternoon sessions will introduce experts with the answers promising to restore the telecom industry's status as the leading source of services for the communicating public. On June 29th the FCC TAC draft recommendation gave the multi-trillion dollar telecom industry the permission to find a new way forward. Please join us on July 28 at the "Telecom 2018 Workshop" to get started on this challenge.

You can watch and listen to the whole Council session if you'd like at http://www.fcc.gov/events/technical-advisory-council-meeting. The discussion of the end of the PSTN takes place during the first 75 minutes of the three hour meeting.

 

Related posts:

 

TAC to FCC: Set a Date Certain for the End of the PSTN

Reader Objection: The PSTN is Better than Wireless or VoIP

The Ugly End of the Phone Network

Planning for the Ugly End of the Phone Network

States Should Deregulate ALL Phone Services – Not Regulate New Ones

Whom Do We Regulate when the Phone Monopolies Are Gone?

Whom Do We Regulate when the Phone Monopolies Are Gone? – Universal Access

 

Related posts:

 

TAC to FCC: Set a Date Certain for the End of the PSTN

Reader Objection: The PSTN is Better than Wireless or VoIP

The Ugly End of the Phone Network

Planning for the Ugly End of the Phone Network

States Should Deregulate ALL Phone Services – Not Regulate New Ones

Whom Do We Regulate when the Phone Monopolies Are Gone?

Whom Do We Regulate when the Phone Monopolies Are Gone? – Universal Access

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