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WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever 449

Posted by Soulskill
from the rotary-phones-won't-breed-in-captivity dept.
retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."
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WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

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  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @02:16AM (#46613407) Homepage Journal

    Seems like a fair trade.

  • by Fulminata (999320) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @02:20AM (#46613421)
    As soon as they can guarantee reliable cell service to everyone, they can be allowed to cease providing land line service to everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2014 @02:42AM (#46613463)

    we use daily. Why throw it away?

  • by Your.Master (1088569) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @02:58AM (#46613495)

    Because most of us don't actually use it daily, or weekly, or monthly. I haven't had a landline in over ten years, including both my work and home phone numbers (my workplace uses VoIP).

    I would say a first step is that the requirement be loosened such that the so-called POTS should be sufficient, but not necessary, to meet the requirements. The alternatives that could replace the POTS should not require an unreasonable sacrifice compared to keeping the POTS.

    If you can come up with a reason that it's unreasonable in your locality, then good on you. I have absolutely no doubt that there remain good uses of the POTS for some scenarios, probably geographically-constrained, but I don't know them.

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:02AM (#46613515)

    So we give up something we've had for years, and in exchange we get to keep something we've had for years? And what happens when they come back in five years saying Net Neutrality is just too much of a burden? What do we give up in ransom next?

  • by arfonrg (81735) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:08AM (#46613523)

    Because it works well (especially in emergencies) but isn't a cash cow.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:21AM (#46613551)

    I REAL capitalism, when you screw over your customers, they leave you and go to the competition. In fake capoitalism (read government controlled), you're pretty much the only game in town and have a protected monopoly and can screw your customers with impunity.... Kinda like the current utilities system we have.

  • by dryeo (100693) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:30AM (#46613585)

    I REAL capitalism, when you screw over your customers, they leave you and go to the competition. In fake capoitalism (read government controlled), you're pretty much the only game in town and have a protected monopoly and can screw your customers with impunity.... Kinda like the current utilities system we have.

    In real capitalism, you make sure there is no competition left before you screw over your customers. Being good capitalists does mean using any means to destroy your competition and government is a good tool, fairly cheap and well armed.

  • Compromise. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:32AM (#46613593)

    I will fight to keep POTS as long as you prevent all unlicensed use of select short-wave radio bands.

  • You guys in the US have had net neutrality for years? News to me. I thought you had this watered down thing where the ISP's along with major peers were giving the thin veneer of that, while saying they're not shaping traffic while slapping in sandvine boxes all the while. I know that it's what Rogers, Bell and Telus were doing in Canada for quite awhile until the CRTC, Industry Canada and the Feds smacked them around.

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:33AM (#46613599)

    POT is a constitutionally protected privacy interest. The airwaves are not.

  • bad deal. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by strstr (539330) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:52AM (#46613641)

    So first there's a privacy risk although POTS can be tapped with a satellite or radar system, so even if it's constitutionally protected they're still tapping it.

    The real argument is: POTS is obsolete but fiber is it's successor. They should be requiring the phone companies to install fiber to all homes, providing 10Gbps+ Internet and access to network resources like VoIP and IPTV.

    The problem with an all wireless solution is limited capacity and radiation exposure. We've already ramped up emissions by millions upon millions of times, and it's literally causing DNA and brain injuries, preventing curing of cancer, causing species decline and extinction, and other problems. The Schumann resonance which the earth produces and all life is dependent on is literally being over powered by microwaves and other EMF causing all these different phenomena, including conditions like anxiety and schizophrenia.

    When you walk around you're walking in a field of EMF smog. The mind cannot turn off, and melatonin production is also dropping because the pineal gland which produces it is activated by EMF of all wavelengths and doesn't get the chance when being flooded with signals 24/7.

    Watch this video for one guys story. Who is Elisa Lam? On YouTube. Also covers bioelectromagnetic weapons development and their use by our governments to attack people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • Re:bad deal. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @03:59AM (#46613667) Homepage

    "We've already ramped up emissions by millions upon millions of times, and it's literally causing DNA and brain injuries, preventing curing of cancer, causing species decline and extinction, and other problems. The Schumann resonance which the earth produces and all life is dependent on is literally being over powered by microwaves and other EMF causing all these different phenomena, including conditions like anxiety and schizophrenia."

    No.

    It's not.

    Please put your white-coat back on (in either sense - lunatic, or go and actually work in a science lab and prove it to yourself).

  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @04:14AM (#46613689) Homepage

    The alternative is that they can negotiate with each individual property owner whose property the cables run through individually. Good luck with that.

  • In real capitalism, where the government doesn't prevent the development of monopolies, there is no competition to go to when you get fucked over.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @04:50AM (#46613757)
    That's not an argument against regulations, it's merely an argument against putting horse judges and drinking buddies instead of professionals in charge of drafting, revising and enforcing regulations.
  • Re:An option? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by anubi (640541) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @05:08AM (#46613805) Journal
    Think twice before you want to assume this mess. Ever seen inside those telco boxes? They are a mess of 50 year old wire, eroded, and crumbling. I have seen them in my neighborhood and wondered how the telco kept them running.

    I think they are pricing landline use through the roof to get people to abandon their line, then they re-allocate the remaining working lines to the ones who have not jumped ship yet.

    Personally, I think the landline infrastructure I have seen is rotten to the core, and is inevitably sinking, and even I cannot really see them investing much money in order to keep it alive. I think they see this kinda like I see my 40 year old car... its hard to get parts for it ... and everything in that car that is flat wore out. Its an old Toyota. Around 300K miles. Looks like shit and still runs, albeit rattles like a sonofagun and accelerates like an old coot getting off a couch. I have to be prepared to buy another car when anything major goes. I think the telephone companies have already written off the landline infrastructure, and is just milking it along for a few more years until they shut the whole thing off for good, but for now, a few lines still work, and they are pricing them for the last hangers-on like me. ( Yes, I still use a Western Electric 500 series phone - the black one... you know, the one with a carbon microphone ). I did get the touchtone pad though...however the old dial phone in the garage still works. Doesn't ring anymore though - I had to disconnect its ringer because I only had enough ring current coming to me to ring one old phone. I have to hand it to the phone company for always having their stuff work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2014 @07:18AM (#46614057)

    You've got your capitalisms reversed. Fake capitalism, aka "fantasy capitalism" is when you screw over your customers, they leave you and go to the competition. This scenario of a just world largely only exists in the imagination of libertarians. Real capitalism with unregulated markets inevitably leads to monopolies as more and more wealth gets concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer people as competitors eventually get bought out.

    Don't like a particular company, start your own! This is the popular libertarian/corporatist mantra. Of course, its virtually impossible to start your own telephone company, ISP, or cellular service provider. But that won't stop the libertarian from making that claim, nor will the near impossibility of such justify the government imposing any type of regulations whatsoever on such companies.

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Sunday March 30, 2014 @08:10AM (#46614165) Journal

    We were without power here for over a week after the Derecho a few years ago...this led to some fun (and very hot) experimentation. Some results:

    - Most small-ish generators are loud, a bitch to maintain (a synthetic oil change every 30 hours? if you insist...), loud, expensive to fuel, loud, and difficult to fuel at first until (some) gas stations had proper gensets brought in from out-of-state, and loud.

    - Cell service never blinked. Whatever they were doing for backup power, be it regular fuel delivery or natural gas, was working fine.

    - That with a cheap (less-than-$20) unregulated solar panel from Lowes and the car charger for my Android phone (which accepts up to 24VDC according to its label), I was able to keep more than one phone going continuously even on a mostly-cloudy day just by putting the solar panel in an unshaded window. They charged normally (ie: in an hour or so), and the charge lasted about as long as it normally would (24 hours or so). (I learned all of this because of generators being loud and sleep being useful.)

    - Our VDSL line never dropped. It never even thought about it, according to its accumulated stats. The modem/router/gateway/whatever-widget has a perfectly reasonable battery in its external DC power supply, which would get opportunistically charged whenever the generator was running (usually a just few hours/day to charge batteries for lights and make ice to keep the beer cold, though there was some running of dishwashers and window ACs as well). (Interestingly, the only reason it has its own battery is because we initially ordered it with a VOIP phone line. If we'd ordered just Internet, it would have died as soon as the power did.)

    Our provider (Deathstar) had gensets at each VRAD cabinet, humming away quietly 24/7. Most of these were VERY shiny trailer-mounted rigs, but I did spot a couple of smaller portable ones. And I did my part, too, by opening up my AP and renaming it to "Free Wifi for Storm Victims" -- which actually served a fairly big area, since the 2.4GHz spectrum was remarkably interference-free. ;)

    By extension of all of this, I can quite safely assume that if I still had POTS, I'd have had a functional dialtone during that entire time: The CO plainly had power (and was built to withstand a war), and the VRAD cabinets (which also terminate some POTS lines these days) had power, and everything was proven to have connectivity....despite most of the telephone pairs and backbone fiber being overhead in these parts, and -lots- of trees down everywhere.

    I got through that storm with multiple forms of uninterrupted communication just fine, just by using crap that I had laying around. I'd have done it just as well without a generator (which itself was just a lucky break), between the cheap solar panel and multiple vehicles and an inverter and charged SLAs and CFL lights that can run from them directly, full-conversion sinewave UPSs, and other stuff that I've accumulated just because I'm a geek.

    And that, I guess, is the point: Even if one form of communication failed (multiple cell tower failure, OR VDSL failure), I'd still have been a happy camper without power. Me. Just me.

    I have thus demonstrated that I, myself, don't need POTS. In my neighborhood.

    But then, this is /., and I am therefore not normal. I also live in in a small city in mostly-rural Ohio where I have a fair variety of communication options and just enough density that a little bit of work on a provider's part will light up hundreds/thousands of people instead of dozens...or 1.

    A 15-minute drive will take me to areas that are not so-blessed, and these folks still need POTS: The local loops are tens-of-miles long and can't support *DSL, there is no cable, cellular service (while normally quite good) is often served by a singular tower with redundant zero overlap, and any notion of "bandwidth" comes from an 802.11-based WISP which also has zero redundancy.

    These folks a

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @08:41AM (#46614241) Journal

    Bingo. And the precipitous drop in rate was not really a function of de-regulation, per se, but of the requirement that the lines had to be shared. The barriers to entry were lowered.

    What we need is a full-on, forced corporate divorce of plant operations, provider/service/access operations, and content creation and distribution. You can't own more than one as a corporate entity at any level. Destruction of vertical integration offers only minor cost savings when compared to the cost increase a monopoly creates in the intellectual property area.

  • by hjf (703092) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @09:50AM (#46614519) Homepage

    As a network administrator, I can guarantee you that traffic shaping *is* necessary.

    Just like in "real life" you drive at a certain speed, and traffic lights decide which cars pass and which ones have to wait.

    Just like in "real life" certain vehicles have priority above all (ambulances).

    Expecting a fully unregulated internet is dumb. No matter how much capacity you can add to YOUR network, there will still be a bottleneck somewhere. And you really don't want ICMP queueing up at that point, or Bad Things® happen.

    And you really don't want SMTP to have the same priority as HTTP. You really don't need that email to arrive in a second. It can take 10, 20, 30 seconds. It can take a minute, and that's OK. But your web browsing can't wait 10, 20, 30 seconds.

    Let's not be fools. Traffic shaping IS a need. I get where you're coming from (priorizing one company over another) but it's silly to think it should be completely unrestricted. Real life isn't. Why should the internet be?

  • by Aqualung812 (959532) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @10:48AM (#46614773)

    Couple things:

    1. Traffic Shaping *CAN* be done in a Network Neutral way. If all RTP traffic is higher than all SMTP traffic (regardless if the RTP traffic is from my house to a friend and the SMTP traffic is from Comcast), then you have preserved NETWORK (not traffic) neutrality. I think this is acceptable to most people that support Network Neutrality.

    2. Traffic Shaping should only be used in bursts. If you are using it for hours at a time, BUY MORE CAPACITY. I've yet to see any shaping that works as well as more capacity.
    In other words, if your ISP is saturated every night between suppertime and bedtime, they need more capacity.
    If they use shaping to make sure a sudden burst of downloads for the latest Apple iOS updates don't impact VoIP and Video RTP for their customers, that is a good thing.

  • Re:Hello 911? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plopez (54068) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @11:31AM (#46614969) Journal

    One lesson from recent emergencies such as Katrina is that landlines are *much* more reliable than wireless. Ensuring good communications during emergencies is a legitimate role of government.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @12:13PM (#46615183)

    Correct. They should. At the fair price.

    And in perfect world a non-profit, probably government-financed organisation would build those and then lease them to private companies. That way no one has the stranglehold on competition and private business can actually flourish instead of being strangled by private monopolies with power to bully everyone, including law makers into doing what they want to be done.

  • by ebusinessmedia1 (561777) on Sunday March 30, 2014 @04:10PM (#46616341)
    Every ounce of copper infrastructure was paid for with YOUR tax dollars via tax breaks. That is what gace the Bell system a monopoly; that's why they got broken up - and that's why corrupt legislators paid off by the Bell subsidiaries reformed ATT. The telcos have been charging excise taxes for years that are supposed to guarantee fiber infrastructure. They haven't - not nearly as they promised they would do. I say nationalize telecommunications infrastructure, or force out the incumbents. As for POTS: why give it up? It's there; like trolley lines in cities used to be there until we tore them up (and now we regret having done that). Leave the infrastructure in place. The ONLY thing the telcos care about is their profit; they care about nothing else. If they want to eliminate a service, it is for their current senior management's benefit only. Remember that.

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