SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Tom Nolle
Tom Nolle is the president and founder of CIMI Corporation and the principal consultant/analyst. Tom started his career as a...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Tom Nolle | December 18, 2013 |

 
   

Can You Hear Me? No More POTS!

Can You Hear Me? No More POTS! Watch the progress of this initiative; it could have huge impacts.

Watch the progress of this initiative; it could have huge impacts.

Bell's question to Watson over a century ago may be relevant again, at least in the minds of some, if the FCC takes the expected steps to expedite the transition to VoIP. I don't think that basic quality of voice service is at risk, but there are some truly profound consequences to a decision to abandon TDM voice, and since it really looks like it will happen, it's smart to think about them--as relates to both opportunities and risks.

Telecommunications has long been more than analog voice and copper loops, but regulations have stayed in the Dark (or at least the "TDM") Ages. Operators like AT&T have proposed the FCC modernize things, and initiatives like extending universal service to broadband access are already forcing changes. To deal with these issues collectively, the FCC bundled its transitions (TDM-to-VoIP, fixed to mobile, copper to fiber) into a single Technology Transition Policy Task Force, and recommendations from that activity (made December 12) will launch experiments in promoting change while controlling the risk of unfavorable impacts.

The recommendations of the TTPTF (another acronym!) are posted online. You'll see that we've studied the need to study and approved an experiment to guide experimentation. While that's pretty slim evidence of progress, by bureaucratic standards it's actually like a clarion call for change, and so instead of taking about the process, let's look at the impact.

The best estimates I can make on POTS service usage today based on surveys, modeling, and FCC sources is that about 40% of US households still have TDM voice. The remainder have either mobile voice services only, or a form of VoIP for their home line. Businesses have a higher TDM commitment--it appears that nearly 70% of business voice is still TDM. Suppose we saw TDM voice go away completely; what would happen?

First, there's little besides voice that requires TDM services and trunks, which means we would see all access lines and trunks transition to packet--almost certainly to Ethernet. This could increase the number of Ethernet business connections by about 28% according to my modeling, and it would also likely increase the access bandwidth commitments by branch offices and SMBs (using DSL, fiber, cable, etc.) by over 50%. Metro and access vendors would benefit from this almost immediately because it's likely that operators would start to promote Ethernet access and IP voice more strongly as soon as the "experiments" showed signs of success (likely mid-2014).

Operators already like the notion of an "access-first" strategy where they supply a fat pipe to a customer and then build ad hoc services over it. Ethernet or packet access encourages that, so giving that to everyone would drive operators quickly to look for rapid service deployment tools so that they don't lose all of the new access-generated opportunities to the over-the-top players (OTTs). I think that operator interest in SDN (software defined networks) and NFV (network functions virtualization) may be linked to this very thing. After all it's silly to talk about "improved service velocity" if you have to restring an access connection to upgrade service.

The second impact is on Internet policy. This voice transition raises the question of the difference between "packet" or "IP" and "the Internet". You can do VoIP over any IP, including private networking. That's done with a lot of IP voice today in fact. Operators could in theory augment their services to customers by building IP services that bypass the Internet, but that would pose issues in linking the services to current devices in the home or in businesses. OTTs would surely want to get involved in any new service opportunity, and all that raises the triple-threat question of QoS, settlement, and Net Neutrality.

There's no barrier to QoS in "private" IP networks, but on the Internet, the Net Neutrality order last year said that you could offer QoS only if the subscriber pays for it. Most practical Internet QoS opportunities arise because an OTT (like Netflix) could gain by offering QoS to customers. They'd pay the ISPs and either embed the cost or perhaps eat it to improve their differentiation. But the FCC said "No!" Now the new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, says "Perhaps"--at least he did in a speech to a university audience. If that were to become policy, it would likely drive QoS for Internet services, and that would drive settlement among ISPs and content players.

Settlement has been a big issue for the Internet since the 1990s (when I co-authored an RFC to propose adding it). Customers pay their own ISP, so if there's no money flow from that ISP to others, QoS stops where the ISP hands off the traffic. That's inhibited the value of the Internet for applications that need QoS, but it perhaps encouraged smaller players and startups who couldn't pay like Google or Netflix could. Whether this small-player benefit is more for VCs who then have to raise less funding to get an OTT off the ground is an interesting question--but in any event, adding settlement and QoS to the Internet would almost certainly increase operator interest in providing service quality for a fee, which in turn would increase network investment, helping equipment vendors and carriers alike.... In short, it would change the industry.

VoIP could be a back door to making the Internet a real network and not a service on top of carrier IP infrastructure. That could remake our experiences online, and the vendors' fortunes in the marketplace. So watch the progress of this initiative; it could have huge impacts.

Follow Tom Nolle on Google+!
Tom Nolle on Google+





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2018
March 12-15 | Orlando, FL

Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

December 13, 2017

The two major vendors in the Unified Communications space, Cisco and Microsoft, are both strongly promoting their cloud UC deployments. If cloud UC is on your enterprises roadmap, but you dont want

November 29, 2017

As video conferencing use rises in the enterprise, businesses are looking for ways to bring this technology out of traditional conference room and make it more broadly accessible. That's made the h

November 1, 2017

Your customers (internal and external) demand that you offer them the ability to connect by any means. With the adoption of cloud communications tools you now have access to an expanded portfolio o

November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular BlogGeek.me blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.