Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
Read Full Bio >>

Gary Audin | August 21, 2015 |


The Battle to Keep Copper

The Battle to Keep Copper The transition to an all-IP network that supplants the PSTN is a reasonable goal, but one that benefits the carriers more than their customers.

The transition to an all-IP network that supplants the PSTN is a reasonable goal, but one that benefits the carriers more than their customers.

The PSTN as we have known it is on its way out. That means that the copper wire plant will likely slowly disappear. We know that. What comes next may not be all that attractive (see related post, "The Enterprise Still Needs Landline Phones").

The transition to an all-IP network that supplants the PSTN is a reasonable goal, but one that benefits the carriers more than their customers. Customers already have IP services. Eliminating the copper connections means that DSL will probably disappear, and those who want to keep their copper connections will be forced to an IP connection over cable, fiber, or wireless networks. However, copper can still be used if the carrier wants to support it. Frontier Communications, for example, recently announced residential DSL service over copper that delivers bandwidth of 100Mbps.

State of the PSTN
Carriers are rapidly replacing traditional Class 4 trunk switches and Class 5 switches, which serve customers, with IP versions called softswitches. Softswitches take up less space (carriers are selling off real estate), require less power and cooling, can be remotely maintained, and offer more services than their TDM counterparts. Softswitches can connect to copper wire through gateways, thereby enabling continued use of legacy copper cabling should carriers so choose.

The copper plant is aging, which means an increased need for maintenance. But the technicians who support TDM and copper technologies are retiring, and new technicians don't want to learn old technologies for fear that they will be working their way out of their jobs as the PSTN retires. Supporting legacy technologies becomes more expensive with fewer support personnel.

Benefits for the Carriers
The carriers' goal, therefore, is to transfer customers from TDM to VoIP connections so they can retire the legacy installations. They want to connect to customers so they can upsell services and increase their revenues and profits. They do not want to repair damaged connections, as Verizon tried to do after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York infrastructure. Rather, they want to replace them with wireless or cable/fiber connections for which they can ask higher prices than they could for the TDM services they'd be replacing. This is good business, but not always what customers expect. Lobbying at the federal and state utility commissions bears this out.

Power, Me, and 911
I have backup power for my laptop and a FiOS router/switch for services delivery over a fiber connection. If I lose power, I can keep working offline, but I have learned that my Internet access and TV will not work. The VoIP phone line will work for emergencies, but only for eight hours. If I need to place a 911 call after that period, I can use my cell phone. However, that has limited battery life -- during one seven-and-a-half-day outage, I went out to eat a lot so I could charge my cell phone at the restaurant.

My wireline phone, with its legacy copper connection, keeps working. Thinking about a future in which that's not an option, I am concerned about 911 support during power outages. I would like the VoIP service to have the same power life I have on my wireline phone. This is one of many instances in which I think the result of the transition to IP will be less capable than the TDM connection I now have. In essence, I will have to pay for my cell service to back up my VoIP connection.

Will It be Done to Us or for Us?
The media is bound to extol the virtues of the IP transaction. What I will be looking for is what the hype ignores. Here are some potential scenarios that the consumer and business may encounter:

  • The VoIP service may cost more than what the consumer or business is now paying.
  • The customer may have to subscribe to a bundled service to gain access to the IP network.
  • The consumer may have to rent or purchase equipment to access the IP network.
  • The changeover notification may be as little as two months. This means a scramble for the new access equipment. It also means that businesses will be hit with expenses that are not in their IT budgets. What if the transition occurs and the consumer/business has not been able to acquire the right equipment?
  • The changeover will be localized, therefore local technical support talent will be overloaded and some consumer/business customers will not be ready.
  • Once the service is installed, those with the legacy copper connections will probably experience more outages and slow repairs.
  • The carrier may charge extra because the copper-connected customer has not migrated to IP.
  • The carrier may essentially "blackmail" consumers/businesses by notifying them they will not get any service if they do not transition to IP connections. This has already been reported in Virginia. If this happens, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and let the carrier know. This worked in Virginia.
  • Once the IP transition has been completed in your area, you may discover that the old PSTN regulations do not cover the new services (read related post, "The Telephony IP Transition; Circumventing FCC Oversight").

Consumers and businesses will have to contend with the IP transition. The carriers should be forced to notify consumers/businesses of the transitions in their areas at least six months in advance to give them time to budget and acquire the right IP connection devices.

The carriers could also recommend or possibly offer the devices. They've been planning the IP transition for years, so they know where and when they will be implementing the IP connections.

For related posts I've written on the IP transition of the PSTN, see:


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
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 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.