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Communications Government Networking United States

Could PSTN Go Away By 2018? 305

An anonymous reader writes "If current rates hold, only 6% of the U.S. population will still be served by the public switched telephone network by the end of 2018. Tom Evslin reports that the 'Technical Advisory Council (TAC) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommended last week that the FCC set a date certain for the sunset of the PSTN rather than let the service fade slowly into oblivion as it is doing now.' Since doing 'nothing' isn't really possible, he suggests: (possibly) end(ing) the Universal Service Fund subsidies, ensuring PSTN-dependent services like E911 work on new technologies, and assuring that everyone who now has PSTN service has access to either a broadband or cellular communication alternative."
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Could PSTN Go Away By 2018?

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  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:11AM (#36692898) Homepage

    As someone who's programmed PSTN, it's really not needed anymore. It's so inefficient it's not funny. Both ISDN & PSTN are so archaic now that there's no logical way to justify keeping these technologies going. It's why I don't understand opposition to the NBN here in Australia.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There's one reason to keep PSTN - when the CO is 10 miles away and it's in a rural area that has lots of hills.

      Satellite - not possible due to terrain
      Wireless ethernet backhaul - need towers
      Cellphone - no service

      There's still a few people that cannot be served with new technologies without significant costs.
      Once, the phone company refused to install DSL, but the location was in-range (installer didn't wanna do it...).
      I had him install ISDN and he had to run an entirely new line :)
      Now it's set to 1.5Mbit ser

      • I'm 40,000 cable feet from the CO. I don't have a landline, but I needed to call some neighbors the other day, and they were clear as could be.. Quite impressive, that tech from the 70's.. Now if we could just get some decent, non-wireless internet out here in the sticks.. :( maybe someday..

      • Fibre kicks the shit out of ALL of the methods you've described.

    • by Zeek40 ( 1017978 )
      PSTN is useful during power outages. When hurricane Frances hit Florida in 2004, power was out in my town for about a week and a half. No power means the Cell towers were't working and the cable modem gets shut off. Since PSTN provides it's own power, most people that I know of keep a simple, dumb old corded telephone somewhere in their house for emergency communication during hurricanes.
      • Agreed, that's about the ONLY reason I can see for PSTN/ISDN to stay active at this stage. If you could offer battery-backup fibre voice receivers then that would fix this problem.

        As it stands, you can't deliver voltage via anything but copper.

      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        Uh, the cell towers can be provided with backup power just as easily as the CO, the FCC just needs to mandate it for all new installations after date X and that all existing towers without a proven obstacle to installation be retrofitted by date Y.
        • um well... I wouldn't say 'just as easily'.
          There are waaaay more cell towers than COs.
          You could put batteries on all of them but you can't roll a generator out to all of them when the power goes down and you have 6 hours of battery life.

          With the copper lines they have battery backup and can prep generator backup while the batteries run down.
          during the 'great power outage' a few years ago that shut down the north-east Canada/US power grid for days we had working telephones the entire time.

      • PSTN is useful during power outages. When hurricane Frances hit Florida in 2004, power was out in my town for about a week and a half. No power means the Cell towers were't working and the cable modem gets shut off. Since PSTN provides it's own power, most people that I know of keep a simple, dumb old corded telephone somewhere in their house for emergency communication during hurricanes.

        It isn't just a matter of power and towers...but somehow the exchanges for the cellphones went out during and the afterm

    • I'd agree if we had universal broadband but we don't, not by a looooooong shot. Where my mom is is exactly 2 BLOCKS from where the cable and DSL ends. Gues how far they have advanced in 20 years since her house was built? Zero, nada, not an inch. The WISP out there is spotty at best, with several days a month with ZERO service and since they are in a valley half the time the cells won't pick up shit either.

      So if they would use the fund to pay for at least a basic 200Kb DSL line to all those like my mom, o

    • Do you think the government should maybe subsidize broadband connections instead?
    • Not needed?
      It is an independently powered comms system. It stays up when the power grid goes down, a literally life-saving feature.

      Also, the call quality, latency and reliability are still better than the alternatives.

  • by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:16AM (#36692944) Journal

    and assuring that everyone who now has PSTN service has access to either a broadband or cellular communication alternative.

    I'd rather they work on making sure we have multiple broadband and communication options. I don't like the words "a" and "or" being used here.

    Not that the PSTN was much better in that regard but here we have a chance to do it right.

    • The copper is already strung up. Someone will find a use for it, and it will most certainly be digital communications of some kind.
  • The actual PSTN might not be needed . . . but the copper to the end user is required for most broadband users. If PSTN goes who will be responsible for maintaining this.
    • by cdrguru ( 88047 )

      Nobody. The copper will be pulled out and sold for scrap. And if you aren't really careful, the roving gangs of copper thieves will beat you to it and sell your copper even before the service ends.

      Goodbye DSL. It will not exist any longer. And no, the government isn't going to decide to spend billions on putting fiber in to every home. Verizon is already doing it and Qwest is getting started. Unfortunately, they might stop or really slow down if there is no more revenue from landline service.

  • Freely admit I don't understand most of this, but, doesn't mobile phone traffic (once it gets to a tower that is) get transferred to the PSTN?
    • Nah, it typically gets put onto ATM links for the back-haul. It only breaks out onto the PSTN if the destination is a land line.

      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        If the PSTN network is up to snuff, the conversation likely stays ATM up to the nearest PSTN "switch" for the landline customer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:24AM (#36693020)

    Here's a potentially stupid question.

    My family's gone cellular; we only have a landline for DSL. Last night we had a power outage in my part of Philadelphia. Not too bad, perhaps 20 minutes or so, but the outage apparently also took out the cell my phone connects to. As I recall, the PSTN works even if the rest of the grid is down. So what happens if, during an outage that also eliminates cellular connectivity, someone has, say, a medical emergency? With wireline redundancy on a separate system, I can call 911 and get an ambulance to my location in a hurry. Without it, I'm SOL.

    The question, therefore, is: How do we mitigate the risk that some related service interruption leaves us completely disconnected at a moment of crisis?

    • by cvtan ( 752695 )
      I seems to me that cell service goes down in times of crisis. Major power outages, 9/11 etc.
    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:35AM (#36693110) Homepage

      Let's now be silly here. PSTN operates on a separate grid + backup power basis so that it works even in the case of a (normal) power cut. There's no reason that cellular or broadband networks can't be required to do the same and/or don't already do that.

      I've never experienced a cellular "outage" except through something other than simple power - i.e. oversubscribed networks, busy periods (e.g. New Year Eve), or just plain stupidity of someone changing settings they shouldn't. So there's nothing to say that the cellular network isn't already backed in terms of additional / temporary / emergency power.

      It's like saying what would have happened during a PSTN outage even if the normal grid wasn't affected? Same problem, and would have happened just as often (PSTN networks aren't somehow infallible, and sometimes HAVE to be shutdown for safety reasons if they are still supplying power to places that could be dangerous - e.g. fires, gas leaks, etc.). All that happens is that instead of PSTN you use cellular, or broadband (which is still essentially running on the same PSTN copper/street cabinets/exchanges).

      The only "problem" is that cellular isn't a guaranteed service in that it could be up and running but far too busy to let you call rather than, say, the emergency services. Although they have a QoS for such emergency services, you won't necessarily be able to get signal in an emergency purely because of the sheer number of people near you trying to do the same. But broadband? That's a different matter.

      PSTN was just "a" network. What did you do before you had cellular and there was an accident? You relied on PSTN or "something else" (i.e. your neighbours PSTN, or CB radio, or whatever). Now you just shift your expectations and use other methods.

      To be honest, in an urban environment, I've never had quite so many completely independent ways of contacting people in an emergency. The loss of one, albeit one of the most reliable, is hardly a loss at all in terms of safety. There are at least three different methods of Internet connection available to me just sitting at home - cable internet, phone-line-based internet (e.g. ADSL, etc.) and 3G internet. They are all more-or-less independent of each other so if the 3G goes down, SOMETHING else will work and if the ADSL goes down, I can always hook up a 3G dongle (on any of 5 major networks that all run seperate infrastructure and frequencies).

      If I was out in the sticks, I'd be slightly more worried but your basic landline phone isn't going away - it's just changing its underlying technology. There's still plenty of options open to anyone that needs them. It's not like it's the 40's anymore where the next phone is several miles away and you have no other backups at all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward


        The POTS system has had a hundred years of experience to work out issues like redundant power supplies. Cellular networks haven't. So POTS often works when cell doesn't; the reverse is almost never true.

        In another seventy years, this will probably not be the case.

      • Let's now be silly here. PSTN operates on a separate grid + backup power basis so that it works even in the case of a (normal) power cut. There's no reason that cellular or broadband networks can't be required to do the same and/or don't already do that..

        yes and no, yes, technically you are right (although my guess is cell tower transmitters would require a lot more battery power than the POTS network)

        but no, that kickass reliability was engineered into the landline network back when AT&T was a very fat and happy, and heavily regulated, monopoly.

        The mobile network providers have to constantly think about undercutting competitors while delivering maximum shareholder value. Also a big difference between then and now; politicians who express belief in

      • by Zeek40 ( 1017978 )
        It's not the case yet though, and good luck getting any kind of "make big businesses worry about the consumer" legislation passed in the current US political climate. When my town was hit by hurricane Frances in 2004, power was out for a week and a half, and the only way to communicate was using an old corded telephone on a POTS line. The cell towers were all unpowered, as were the cablemodems. I haven't done the math, but I have a feeling that it takes a lot more power to cover a given area with cell si
      • A few years ago, Hurricane Isabel blew through my part of the world, causing a lot of severe damage. My power was out for almost three days. I had no cell service (damage to either the tower or its power supply, I'm not sure which), no cable service for quite a while even after the power came back on, etc. But! I had kept an old Princess phone around (my wireless handset was useless, obvs), and as a result, had POTS the whole time. Luckily, we didn't have any emergencies, but if we had, I could have called

    • by Trepidity ( 597 )

      It'd be interesting to known what percentage of people even with landline phones already have this problem, given the prevalence of cordless phones. When the power's out, the only thing that works is an old-fashioned phone with a cord directly plugged into the wall.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        I live where there is hurricains. We keep an old style phone just for that issue. You can get them for about $10. It is very nice to have.

    • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      Make sure your telephone can run off the line power, we've got a DECT phone and I think the base station requires a separate power supply so in case of a power outage the phones would stop working.

    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      I think this is a valid point. Quite often the PSTN is the one utility that I can count on functioning even when other utilities (particularly the electrical grid) is shut down. This isn't to say that the telephone network has no interruptions, but the "uptime" is usually of such quality that it sets the standard in my opinion for what ought to be expected from utilities in general. Even cable television service has more outages. That isn't accidental too.

      Then again, I still have a landline which I stil

    • That seems odd. When the power went out to Northern Alabama for nearly a week in April it took almost 24 hours for the cell towers to start dying. They have pretty substantial battery backups. Within 12 hours or so of the towers starting to die, someone from AT&T seemed to realize that the power wasn't coming back anytime soon; and they either set up a battery rotation schedule or put generators on the towers. All in all the system was only really dead for about 12-14 hours of the week long outage.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        During our last hurricane we lost cell service in 18 hours stayed down for 5 days. Power went out for a week, Phone service never went down. Cable TV.......

      • 24 hours? Hah! The POTS system here will go for at least 48 hours (48 hours assumes 90% network load) on just the batteries, then they have a big damn diesel generator to backstop that, with enough fuel for 2 weeks. And this is all automatic, no human intervention required.

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      PSTN only keeps working because it has backup power systems in place. Put equivalent ones for the cell tower and it's just as good.
      • There are 6 POTS COs in my city. They all have space for a large diesel generator.
        There are 3000 cell towers. They are all over the farking place, the tops of apartment buildings, churches...

        So yes, theoretically possible. But not remotely practical.

    • So what happens if, during an outage that also eliminates cellular connectivity, someone has, say, a medical emergency? With wireline redundancy on a separate system, I can call 911 and get an ambulance to my location in a hurry. Without it, I'm SOL.

      The question, therefore, is: How do we mitigate the risk that some related service interruption leaves us completely disconnected at a moment of crisis?

      You're on your own. Full stop.

      The police and fire and medical services are there to help, but when the shit hits the fan they'll be busy. When seconds count they are minutes away. I respect and honor the people in these professions, but its far better to be prepared myself and have them and not need them than to not prepare and then not have their services available.

      My plan is centered around time:
      - seconds - imminient violence, severe medical, no-warning disaters (quakes, some tornados), house fire

  • Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:29AM (#36693082)

    I happen to like and trust PSTN. It just works. Always has. And it is simple. Sometimes simple is good.

    For those comparing this to the switch to digital TV - yeah, I hear you but you know what? The promise of digital TV was over-sold. The picture may be great *most of the time* (not going to discuss the programming - crap, alway was/is/will be - see "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander) but it isn't reliable either. My beautiful HD tv breaks up as often, if not more, than the analog signal I used to receive.

    I don't have any confidence in cell or IP service. There are too many ways to make it not work for me to feel comfortable - especially on a "dark and stormy night"...

    Luddit? Maybe. I've been an IT manager for over 20 years, use all the toys at work, but still don't trust them. Sometimes simple is good.

    • I totally agree with you; you nailed it. It is a tried-and-true, proven technology. One of the first casualties of major events, such as storms, floods, etc is the cellular network! Unless the wires, themselves, get damaged, Ol' Ma Bell still works. Power goes out, and stays out for a week? Ma Bell's phone still works.

    • It just works. Always has.

      I disagree [ncl.ac.uk] that it has always worked; the PSTN is generally very reliable, I'll give you that. I will agree with your apprehension about maybe seeing it go.

      When it does fail, it fails very badly, and often takes other things with it.

      Personally, I often find myself longing for the higher sound quality of a fully-wired phone line versus that of a cell phone. Isn't that ironic?

      • Personally, I often find myself longing for the higher sound quality of a fully-wired phone line versus that of a cell phone. Isn't that ironic?

        Agreed! Cell phones exist now for texting, apps and ringtones at teh expense of reliable *phone* service. The voice call side has been left in the dust which is one more reason I like my PSTN line.

      • by tixxit ( 1107127 )
        Let's not forget that cell plans (at least in Canada) are still no match for landlines. The price of unlimited day-time minutes (VERY important if you work from home) is just way too high. I've also found when it comes to VOIP, of the three desirable features - cheap, reliable, and good quality - you only get to choose 2. Good quality, reliable VOIP (w/ SIP) costs as much as a regular land line.
      • Personally, I often find myself longing for the higher sound quality of a fully-wired phone line versus that of a cell phone. Isn't that ironic?

        Try a VoIP phone with G.722 support some time. It'll blow you away. I thought they were gimmicks when I first got one in for testing, but it really makes the G.711 codec used by the PSTN sound like the shit it is. The bandwidth usage is exactly the same too at full rate, so the only reason it's not more common is legacy equipment which doesn't support it. A few lower bitrate options are in the 3GPP specs and are being used by certain cellular carriers in Europe and Canada to deliver better than PSTN cal

  • 911 access (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:34AM (#36693108)
    Today the government requires VOIP providers to warn people about the unreliability of 911 access by any means other than copper. Now the government wants to take away the copper since it is obsolete. What??
    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      My "landline" comes over my cable connection. It has a battery backup but many times when my Internet is down so is my telephone.

      So, if the mobile network is down and/or strained and my cable is out too (likely in a severe situation) what the fuck am I going to do? I guess I'd have to walk to the nearest fire station a mile away.

  • won't happen (Score:4, Informative)

    by genner ( 694963 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:38AM (#36693134)
    Doing this by 2018 is pretty much impossible. There's still huge chunks of land without BB service or even decent cell phone coverage.
    • Re:won't happen (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PingSpike ( 947548 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:13AM (#36693402)

      That was my thought as well. They're probably making assumptions based off those same old faulty broadband maps that count an entire zip code as having broadband if one person in it has broadband. I just got DSL service last week for the first time, and I have no other options. My area is fairly rural I'll admit but the United States has large swaths of space that are just like here.

      2018 seems completely unreasonable and sounds like the myopic suggestion of some one that has lived entirely in high population density areas. And I'm not even going to go into the change averse nature of our large elderly population who statistically are going to need reliable 911 service the most.

  • I don't know about the US, but with the completion of the NBN [wikipedia.org] in Australia the PSTN will be history here.

    History means all copper land lines gone and all the analogue gear the copper is connected to in the 1200 exchanges becomes land fill, along with all the ISDN based switch gear. The 1200 exchanges will be reduced to 120 point of interconnects. We are talking scorched earth here.

    The only thing left will be the analogue phones in the house. They connect to SIP ATA's, so by the time the voice leaves the premises it will already be IP, switched by internet routers, being transmitted in ethernet frames over fibre or fixed wireless. Our resident teloc's will all be become SIP providers.

    It might be someone's theory the analogue PSTN will disappear in a decade or so in the US. In Australia govenment lawyers crafted iron clad agreements, the contracts are signed, the opposition has admitted defeat, and the money is committed. They are digging up the ground now. The PSTN's death here is almost a certainty.

    • We have fiber to the home in some parts of the US. Verizon's POTS service on FiOS is a hybrid option. The transport to the home isn't IP based, the connection at the CO is either legacy PSTN or VoIP depending on what service plan you subscribe to.
  • Im no expert, but every time the topic came up in a networking lecture the "simplicity" of PSTN compared to its more modern counterparts was the explanation why the tech is still widely used
  • I do not like cell phones. They are devilish devices that encourage the stupid to be even more stupid behind the wheel of a car. They are possibly the worst invention thrust upon mankind. That said, I do own a pay-as-you-go cell phone for cases of road-side assistance. I spend about $20 a year for it. The mobile phone plans in the USA are monstrosities. They are convoluted and expensive. I keep my old telephone because it works, even when the power goes out. When the hurricane blew through Ohio and

    • by bloosh ( 649755 )

      Why does it have to be either / or?

      I enjoy having a smartphone. I also enjoy my collection of big old phones with big old speakers in the handsets at my house.

      In fact, I do prefer talking with a big old phone rather than my smartphone. That's why I have an OBi110 device that allows me to use my Google Voice number on my 1941 Western Electric 302 rotary phone. It sounds great and I can even dial out with a DialGizmo between the phone and the OBi.

      • It needs to be either/or due to the cost. Maybe some of y'all have the money to spend on PSTN+Crappy DSL AND Mobile+Data plan. I do not. I can afford one, or the other, but not both at the same time. The plans by US mobile carriers don't fit me. I have, maybe, 60 minutes of talk time per month. But I need massive data. There is no mobile+data plan that fits that. They are hugely expensive plans that give you 3G/4G and 2000 minutes per month with "limited" data after a certain number per month. My D

    • The broadband quality in my rural area sucks, big time. I can barely stream Netflix movies, let alone consider making phone calls with it.

      If you can even contemplate streaming video, you can run a phone call over it just fine. The absolute worst case bandwidth needs are 64kbit/sec in each direction, and a non-shitty VoIP provider will offer multiple codecs which need far less.

      Using AMR-WB (typically used for high quality cellular calls in places that aren't the US) I can easily put four simultaneous calls through a dialup connection while matching or beating the quality of a PSTN call. Any form of broadband, as long as it's actually working

  • by Dishwasha ( 125561 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:53AM (#36693234)

    Is it just me or does the graph do a steep and then gentle curve in the actuals and then take a linear nose dive in his projections? I'm not a math genius but that totally looks like somebody making up their own agendas and skewing the evidence to support it.

  • I telecommute full time as do almost all of my co-workers. PSTN is a requirement primarily because of the audio quality on skype/magicjack/cellular is not as good as a good ol' land line. I know some of you skype fanboys are going to cry "yes it does" but I assure you that you are mistaken. We've got several folks on the team that use it and it is consistently a problem.

    There may be great business class solutions along the lines of getting a T1 or better line and setting up some kind of service across
  • by PuddleBoy ( 544111 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:05AM (#36693332)

    "If current rates hold, only 6% of the U.S. population will still be served by the public switched telephone network by the end of 2018.

    (Disclaimer: I work for a landline company)

    You are assuming that 'everyone' wants this, including retirees, people in rural areas, people who just don't need broadband and know it. You assume that the cellular/VoIP offerings will be as robust as the PSTN. You also assume that, if the landline business is 'dissolved', these other networks can take over the load.

    Do you know who connects those cell towers? Those towers don't talk to each other wirelessly, they use terrestrial copper/fiber. If you sunset the network that keeps the copper/fiber infrastructure in reasonably good shape, the economics of maintaining the cellular network change, driving up costs significantly.

    And please, don't maintain that there is quality parity between these types of services/networks: I have had so many conversations with business owners who tried using VoIP-based services for their dialtone and came running back to the PSTN because their customers complained about voice quality and dropped calls. Also note that while many government agencies have adopted VoIP internally, they recognize that they must have a reliable network to serve the public, especially for emergency services, and thus the vast majority stick with the PSTN for dialtone.

    The PSTN and the Internet are both great networks, but they were built on different premises and with different (internal) priorities. One is really good at low-latency communications, one is very good at network survivability.

    I'm not a Luddite suggesting that we throw away new technologies, but I'm also not some knee-jerk hype-meister of What's Hot Now. Both networks have their place and will coexist for many years to come.

    • I have to wonder what cell/mobile/wireless and VoIP will cost when they have to meet the same uptime standards as landlines.

      I can't remember which company it was but they dropped 10,000 911 calls during one snow storm. A land line company would have been fined out of existence for that but it was A-OK for them since it was only cell phones.

  • I have no plans to do away with my PSTN service.

    1) I like having a phone in most every room instead of having to always carry one around
    2) I get a LOT better international calling rate with my PSTN provider than their cell phone international rates, even with the same carrier
    3) My DSL broadband line uses the same wiring. It is still going to have to be maintained even if the PSTN goes away
    4) Ever try to make a call with a cell in a regional emergency such as an earthquake, tornado, etc? No cells avai
  • So, they want to shut down the PSTN in favor of cellular service?

    What the FUCK do these dimwit politicians think is the mechanism that actually transmits their cellular call after it leaves the NSS? Magic and unicorn farts?? Or are they just in bed with the broadband/cable television companies who want to see even more critical consumer data pushed across their cheap last mile infrastructure so they can append it to people's data caps?

    "Oh, you're being robbed and need to call out to 911? Sorry, but yo
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @09:43AM (#36693700) Homepage

    That's fine, but first the wireless and broadband carriers must be made common carriers like they are over telephone. That is one of the biggest differences between the systems. Telephone companies are not permitted to delay, degrade, alter, or record telephone conversations or modem signals. But no such protections exist over broadband or wireless. They have no requirements for call quality, nothing stops them from inserted advertisements or charging you differently depending on who you call.

    Those same protections need to apply to other services, in addition to deregulating them so we have choices.

  • Could PSTN Go Away By 2018?

    I read that as "Could the PSN go away by 2018...". I was thinking: "Only if the script kiddies hit puberty!"

  • by darjen ( 879890 )

    Why is doing nothing never an option for federal bureaucRATS? If the service was really that bad, wouldn't the last few customers just stop using it completely? I guess then the cronies wouldn't be able to stick their greasy paws into every aspect of our lives. I am convinced that these FCC jobs are nothing but expensive busywork for the buddies of our elected officials. Nothing they do makes any logical sense.

  • by jejones ( 115979 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @10:15AM (#36694150) Journal

    Some Congresscritter will come up with the idea of making everyone with cell phones, VoIP, and broadband connections pay even more to subsidize the dwindling number of PSTN users.

  • I dumped PSTN somewhere around 2002, first went to vonage and shortly after to Asterisk + PSTN gateways. Over these 9 years I think I've developed an idea of the pros and cons of VOIP.

    * Call quality, on average, has been very good. This probably depends mostly on one's ISP, but call quality is better than a cell phone which most people are OK with. I prefer PCMU since it's what the telcos use and is a simple (little processing overhead) and raw codec. Keep in mind that it's possible to use codecs with h

  • " and assuring that everyone who now has PSTN service has access to either a broadband or cellular communication alternative"

    What country does this guy live in? There are still areas (MANY areas)  in the US that are either only served by PSTN or satellite. I'd personally rather use dialup than satellite especially for the work I do in a shell (insane ping times on satellite...)
  • Last I knew, the FCC didn't run the PSTN -- they just regulated common carriers (the providers of the PSTN to consumers). They don't have the authority to shut it down, nor would they save any money doing so. All they do is regulate the carriers, approve interconnection agreements, and make skewed reports on its use.

    What is also neglected here is two major things :
    - The cellular network runs over the PSTN. Without the PSTN backbone, cellular calls would not be able to be connected to people outsi

  • I live in southern California. My electrical service is Southern California Edison (SoCalEd), which can have outages any time of the year.

    My broadband service is through Time Warner Cable TV. When SoCalEd fails, Time Warner's amplifiers die, leaving me with no Internet, no VOIP, and (if I had it) no Time Warner phone service.

    I don't have a cell phone, but my wife does. When SoCalEd fails, the local cell towers die.

    However, my phone service is land-line (PSTN) through AT&T. This phone service is self

  • ... when the replacement has the reliability of PSTN. At a minimum, the battery backup for the fiber box in my house must run longer than the worst-case power outage in my area.

    I could switch to FIOS right now, and they'd give me an interface box they claim is good for up to 12 hours.

    I live in the Washington DC metro area. Neighborhoods in this area have lost power for DAYS within the past few years.

  • "If current rates hold, only 6% of the U.S. population will still be served by the public switched telephone network by the end of 2018.

    http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com]

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday July 08, 2011 @11:46AM (#36695470) Homepage

    The migration of individuals from landline service to cell only insures that at some point there just isn't going to be enough revenue to keep the infrastructure maintained. So the maintainers are going to want to pull the plug and will start lobbying for that... like it seems they have already.

    First casuality will be DSL. It requires really good copper connections to the CO and they are going to degrade. Even if they don't pull the copper out and leave the CO as a unmaintained building the lines will degrade enough to doom any possibility of DSL in a short period of time. So if you don't have cable now, you might want to look into it REAL SOON.

    Second thing is people will notice that cell phone service isn't tariffed like landlines are. The operating companies are required to have pretty much 100% up time, or so close as to not make any difference. Cell towers are not required to be up. Cell towers are not on large building-size battery banks and do not have backup generators like every CO is required to have. So when there is a power outage, the tower is down until power is restored. Yes, there are UPSs in place to hold the tower service up over short outages, but we are talking seconds or maybe at most minutes not hours or days. Might want to think about that and lobby for getting cell service upgraded from being a luxury to being tariffed like landline phone service is today.

    It sounds really nice that the Australian government is taking over the last mile connections. It isn't going to happen in the US for a couple of reasons. The first one is can you imagine the response to spending 3-4 hundred billion on such a project today? No, sorry, it would not be approved as the money simply isn't there. Then there is the idea that the government would be actively supporting and facilitating child porn, porn of all sorts, etc. etc. etc. Someone would notice in a big way. You might be able to pass that off in some other places, but I don't think it would fly here. I can see it now where someone fights a child porn charge by having someone testify that the government provided their Internet connection and did not filter it to ensure that child porn could not be viewed. This then constitutes permission and facilitation.

    The private companies that are today running fiber are in large part still supported by landline phone service. It may be a declining part of their revenue, but it is still there. Should that revenue disappear - as is seems certain to do so - why would they continue wiring the world when their remaining revenue is from wireless services almost exclusively? Verizon and Qwest (the two that I know of with fiber programs) could drop all landline services, get rid of the thousands of trucks and wireline-servicing employees and focus only on wireless pretty easily. It would be a consolidation and focusing of attention, both things that are good for businesses. They would likely benefit greatly from increased efficiency - translated as revenue per employee. Oh, did I say that if you didn't have cable you might want to think about it?

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire