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FCC Preparing Transition To VoIP Telephone Network

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the only-a-matter-of-time dept.

Communications 250

mantis2009 writes "The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a request for public comment (PDF) on an upcoming transition from the decades-old circuit-based Public Switched Telephone Network to a new system run entirely with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. This is perhaps the most serious indication to date that the legacy telephone system will, in the near future, reach the end of its life. This public commenting phase represents a very early stage in what will undoubtedly be a very complex transition that makes this year's bumpy switch from analog to digital television look relatively easy."

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250 comments

Dial-up is all there is some places... (5, Informative)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309552)

The death of dial-up has been greatly exaggerated. No broadband available where I am in NY, within 50 miles of Syracuse.

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309582)

Well, I guess we know where the opposition to this plan will come from...

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (5, Insightful)

TimeElf1 (781120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309616)

With only 60% of the US having access to broadband I'm thinking opposition is going to come from everywhere.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309836)

I'm 44. I'm pretty sure POTS will outlive me.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310192)

I have broadband but I oppose disconnecting the old phone system for the following reasons:

- When my DSL stopped working a few weeks ago (DSLAM needed replacement) I then used dialup to access the internet. 50k is slow but still useful for emailing, listening to online radio, or even watching youtube.

- Dialup is portable. I can use it any place and any hotel that has a phone line. No need to pay the outrageous $5-10/night the hotel charges for wireless or wired access.

- If a three strike law happens, my DSL or Cable ISP might pull the plug, but my dialup will still be there for backup.

- This morning when the electricity died, the wired phone was the only thing that still worked. Good to have for emergency.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310452)

Some very good arguments.

Regarding the "dialup is portable" theory ... you're right, but I find that these days 3G/HDSPA has pretty much replaced dialup for the "portable connection while travelling" market. They sell those 3G USB dongles and pre-paid access at pretty competitive prices now, and coverage is good (at least where I live - most places big enough to have a hotel, will have 3G coverage, and the dongles can roll back to 2.5G EDGE if required). Speeds are better than dialup (even on EDGE) and although data quotas are limited, for checking email and web browsing, they are adequate.

Mind you, dialup can reach deep into buildings etc. where wireless can falter, so it's not a perfect solution. But I think that as mobile networks improve, dialup will really go the way of the dodo for portable connectivity.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309624)

Exactly - idiot redneck hicks will continue to hold up the rest of the country.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1, Offtopic)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309700)

Let me see, I work for an engineering company with equipment deployed in air-traffic control systems around the world, military radar systems, and if you fly it's likely your flight was made safer because of our equipment....

Yep, I and my coworkers sound like we're a bunch if idiot redneck hicks.

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309778)

Yep. You're correct.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309918)

Pray to whatever god(s) you believe in when you fly, then, because your ass is in our hands (eeewwwww...).

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (4, Insightful)

jibster (223164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309614)

I don't think you need to have BB to do VOIP, afterall if you have enough bandwidth to do voice, you have enough bandwidth to do voice (over ip.) I think your mistake is in assuming they mean any change in the physical infrastructure when in actual fact they only intend to change the protocall operating on that infrastructure.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309712)

Voice-over-IP-over-voice (even DSL is "voice"), I love it.

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (3, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309824)

DSL isn't IP over voice. Your typical ADSL configuration is IP running on the same copper alongside voice (or more properly, POTS). It can also be run on copper without POTS (sometimes called "naked DSL"), but the Bells don't like that because it means letting people drop their landlines.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309870)

Strictly speaking, sure, it's not voice. The frequency is much higher.

But it is an analog signal, put onto the wire with a modem; I was just enjoying the irony of it.

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310376)

A "true" POTS line cannot carry DSL. It is bandwidth limited from 0 to 4000 hertz, and travels over many many miles. It's also why a dialup modem maxes-out at 56k - it's trying to squeeze all the information into a narrow bandwidth.

A DSL line has no upper bound, but it's limited to 1-2 miles maximum distance.

So a POTS line and DSL line are not the same, just like a Mac floppy and PC floppy are not the same.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (2, Interesting)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310516)

It can also be run on copper without POTS (sometimes called "naked DSL"), but the Bells don't like that because it means letting people drop their landlines.

You're right, and it's a terrible shame ... I went 'naked' a year ago and I love it (I live in Australia, telco regulations here have forced our equivalent of the US 'bells' to allow competitors to offer ULL, i.e. naked-DSL, links). Beats paying line rental on a phone line I made about 2 call on per year, and my ISP offers a high quality VoIP product for cheap calls worldwide. Love it :)

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0, Flamebait)

sxeraverx (962068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309750)

So, let me get this straight. You want to do voice, over ip, over voice. And you think that's more efficient? The frequency bands for phone lines were selected so you could group as many of them together as you could and still have something that sounds like voice. That's what gave us 56k. Now, you want the same line to carry the same traffic, plus internet traffic, plus ip headers, plus voip/tcp/udp/whateverp headers. And you think you'll get something decent? Good luck with that.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (2, Insightful)

jibster (223164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309840)

Look, its a simple question of bandwidth. If you can squeeze 56kbs of data down a phone line then it MUST take 56kbs to transmit voice in analogue. It does not matter about the encoding. If fact it does not take 56kbs to transmit analogue voice but something closer to 28k will get reasonable quality if I remember my shannon equations from college. Now you do have a point that there is extra overhead in the packetizing the headers but not an unreasonable amount. No you could not trasmit "internet traffic" at the same time, but who is proposing that you would do that? Your phone doesn't do it now does it?

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (2, Informative)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309944)

DSL does not have a 56K limit, but trades higher frequencies and wider bandwidth for

a) much shorter runs from the central office
b) polluting the other copper pairs near the DSL pair, rendering those pairs useless for DSL.

VOIP voice is a fair bit less than 56kbps in many cases.

Dave

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310262)

Look, any comment that begins with "Look" is guaranteed to be a pigheadedly oversimplified assessment that ignores important subtleties.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (3, Insightful)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310458)

That is fine and all... but why? Isn't that just more crap to break? What happened to the kiss principle? I'm fine with the telcos doing this on their end, but going digital all the way makes no sense unless you are upgrading the last mile in the process and providing some sort of SLA. POTS used to be very reliable, VOIP definitely is not. Is it cheaper to run and maintain and have better features? yes! Do I use it? yes! Do I think it is fair to make grandma add an electricity-eating privacy stealing converter box for every friggin thing she uses in her house without providing any benefit to her? Hell no!

This sounds like the Clipper Chip [wikipedia.org] all over again.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (4, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309784)

But can you do dial-up over VOIP?

I mean, sure, you'd think that if the phone network was IP-based, you'd be able to get general Internet access through it, too. Is that really the case, though?

First issue, is this VOIP-to-the-home, or just VOIP-to-the-switch-box? A logical first step would be to switch over to VOIP just before the last-mile, to allow people to keep their existing phones - which (I think) would kill dial-up and faxes. A later second step would be to move the final transition point to the telephone box at the house.

And even if it is running VOIP all the way to the home, you have to assume that the telco will allow people to connect to the Internet via their network. This is something regulation can solve (by forcing the issue), but still, that means new equipment. And most likely new fees. And quite possibly a loss of choice over ISP.

So there will have to be some concession to people still using dial-up - especially if they're not planning on moving the entire network to VOIP all at once.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309868)

I mean, sure, you'd think that if the phone network was IP-based, you'd be able to get general Internet access through it, too. Is that really the case, though?

If you'd bothered to read the damn article (I know, I must be new here) you'd notice that that's EXACTLY what they plan on doing. This is part of a greater initiative to bring the Internet to all US households.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

Silfax (1246468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309976)

First issue, is this VOIP-to-the-home, or just VOIP-to-the-switch-box? A logical first step would be to switch over to VOIP just before the last-mile, to allow people to keep their existing phones - which (I think) would kill dial-up and faxes. A later second step would be to move the final transition point to the telephone box at the house.

Most like it would be voip to just before the last mile for existing service areas. New development would probably be voip direct to the home.

home->pots->magic voip switch->network->magic voip switch->pots->other phone

otherwise the infrastructure changes would be massive

In short? Yes (2, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310224)

I have Vonage service and have an alarm system with a modem and it works fine. Vonage in fact supports up to 56K modems AFAIK.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310364)

It may be that they run VoIP to your closest exchange and keep the analogue lines to your house.

But then it comes down to the encoders used what real bandwidth you get for dial up modems and faxes.

A much more important factor here is that if telephony starts to go over an IP network instead will that traffic be legally protected against wiretapping and other actions?

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309644)

The dial-up network was extended to areas that otherwise would never have been profitable to build by placing an adder on long distance charges and putting that money into a Universal Service Fund, whiched help offset the up-front costs of serving rural areas. Doing something similar for broadband in this day and age would bring howls of rage. I suspect there are some parts of the country which just are not serviceable without some type of large footprint (cheap) wireless solution. (My parents also happen to live in one, in rural Michigan). Perhaps this is where the white space parts of the recently freed analog TV spectrum will help.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309714)

I'll be interested to see how it goes politically.

The only way that broadband is ever going to reach the boonies in any reasonable quantity(at a cost that will make it relevant to people without impressively deep pockets) is either a near-magical wireless link technology or a mess of subsidies and fees on everybody else(as occurred during the prior rural electrification project, and telephone Universal Service stuff).

Rural areas are, on average, substantially "redder" politically than are urban areas. Typically, "mess of subsidies and fees on everybody else" isn't a program that sells well in red areas. Will rural areas do without? Will some sort of clever ideological reconciliation be attempted? Will the telcomms, working through the plutocratic wing of the party, score some giant subsidies and sweetheart "public/private partnerships"?

The nice thing about POTS... (5, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309704)

...is that the user terminal (the phone) is totally passive - no power needed, it's a totally dumb terminal, and very robust (at least, if it's a Western Electric product!). The POTS system is the result of some careful design and decades of improvements to increase reliability. That's not to say that there aren't benefits to be had from VOIP, just that we should think carefully before deciding that everyone will be converted to VOIP.

Disclaimer: In addition to my nifty 2.4G multiple handset cordless phones with built-in caller ID and voicemail, I have two POTS phones which work fine when the power goes out.

Re:The nice thing about POTS... (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309926)

POTS is a mature, robust technology that provides remarkably clear and reliable voice service throughout the country (nearly the globe) at an affordable cost.

Of course we're going to replace it.

POTS is Powered! (4, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310050)

POTS works over low voltage DC. As I recall, it's somewhere in the vicinity of 48 volts, but don't quote me on that. It's entirely feasible to have a cheap, dedicated VOIP chip that runs on 48 volts and draws perhaps 50 to 100 miliamps of current - well within the normal range of today's POTS power draw.

VOIP doesn't have to be VOInternet. They coul just as easily have a dedicated IP network for telephony, then run something like PPPOÈ or VPN to gateway to the public Internet and do away with separate SL MODEMs.

You'd still probably need a long distance plan, even though the point of one is technically idiotic.

Re:POTS is Powered! (1)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310330)

Mod parent up, indeed, it is powered - while I was working on my grandparents' phone system, a family friend found it necessary to call them every 2 minutes for an hour because no one picked up the phone and she thought something had happened to them - SHOCKING.

Re:The nice thing about POTS... (1)

bareman (60518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310156)

no power need be supplied at the user end, but, as you know if anyone's dialed your number while you were working on the wires, there's plenty of juice (~90V ring voltage) there to make you say Ouch!!!.

Re:The nice thing about POTS... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310476)

Sticking a battery in new phones doesn't seem horrifically complicated.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (3, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309832)

Paragraph 1 of the attached PDF:

In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“Recovery Act”), Congress directed
the Commission to create a national broadband plan by February 17, 2010, that seeks to “ensure that all
people of the United States have access to broadband capability and establish[es] benchmarks for
meeting that goal.”1 Among other things, the Commission is to provide “an analysis of the most effective
and efficient mechanism for ensuring broadband access by all people of the United States”2 and “a
detailed strategy for achieving affordability of such service and maximum utilization of broadband
infrastructure and service by the public.”

In other words, they are looking to take your "no broadband available" location and make it a "broadband available" location. At the same time, they are looking to make the transition as cost-effective as possible so they will run whatever wires it takes to give you broadband but at the same time they are looking to eliminate duplicate services (running a nationwide-to-every-American PSTN network *AND* a nationwide-to-every-American Broadband Internet connection). They may even be able to use your existing copper to give you a good Internet connection.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, any conversion of your actual home telephone to VoIP would occur (if it ever did at all) well AFTER you had sufficient high-speed Internet to support it. The FCC isn't going to convert everyone to VoIP today, disconnect massive numbers of remote customers who lack broadband, then figure out how to connect to all the outlying areas later.

In fact, I imagine a lot of what they are going to do is sponsor/mandate DSL implementations, including some sort of repeater technology to break the "local loop distance" barrier and give every American household that has a POTS phone line today access to DSL tomorrow.

There's a very good chance your existing telco will still be allowed to use the voice portion of your copper to send you POTS telephone service just like you are used to today, though many of them will probably want to become pure-play Internet/DSL providers and give you a VoIP box for your phone (but most will probably make that an Analog adapter so you can still use your existing phone) - that way they can use the entire available frequency band on your copper wires to give you the best Internet speed possible, rather than having to have data in one set of frequencies and voice in another. It also greatly simplifies the gear they have to maintain.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (5, Informative)

DrPepper (23664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310074)

I think a lot of people have missed the point on this. As I read it, the proposal is to replace the core infrastructure with VoIP based technology - ie. the circuits between exchanges. Existing POTS lines will still be used back to users to terminate calls. This is already in progress in the UK - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_21CN [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310172)

Who said it has to go all the way to YOUR house to be deployed? I see this old type type of tech redeployed, Translators and Transcoders. A VOIP setup will only push broadband access out to you in the sticks that much faster.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310198)

I don't think there's anything more tragically hilarious than getting dialup access through VoIP.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310222)

The death of dial-up has been greatly exaggerated. No broadband available where I am in NY, within 50 miles of Syracuse.

Dave

Where the hell do you live in the Syracuse area that doesn't have broadband? I don't believe that this is going to even affect you. It sounds to me, unless I missed something here, that the inter CO communication (read TRUNKS) are going to become all VoIP. This makes sense to leverage, for example, a T1 - normally you can have 23 calls on it. With the VoIP tech you will be able to, theoretically, shove many more times that amount over it with packetized voice, rather than circuit switching.

The real trick here will be keeping customers happy with keeping fax working as reliably as it does (if you've ever tried to get fax machines working on VoIP, you'll know the pain in making it work) and keeping the voice quality up. Compression kills quality, yet it will have to be compressed due to the higher quality codecs actually using more than 1 channel worth of data on a T1.

So my point being, don't worry about your POTS line going away in your lifetime. Hell I don't think we'll see IPv4 going away anytime soon either for that matter...

Tl;dr - Wont affect boondock people, CO to CO / CO to Branch switches will use VoIP.

Re:Dial-up is all there is some places... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310316)

Don't hold your breath - they may reclaim the copper and force you to get a mobile phone.

Here's a comment (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309594)

In many countries, it is not uncommon to find namecards with information on both sides of the card. Typically it is English on one side and the local language on the other. This allows a single card to be useful just about anywhere in the world without putting undue strain on either the local partners or the foreign customers.

By flooding the networks with VoIP packets, we are in essence printing one-sided namecards. Instead of having two robust solutions, the American government again seems to want to force everyone into the same shoe size. Better systems will come about in time. The current switched system has served us for a very long time and most people are still using it.

The next step will not be VoIP over wires, but rather it will be some sort of wireless radio communication mechanism. The old wired system will remain for emergencies, but the vast majority of people will simply migrate to handheld personal communications devices. There just isn't a need for VoIP over wires at this point, at least not to the point that it needs to be mandated by the government.

Re:Here's a comment (2, Interesting)

Kylock (608369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309638)

This could easily lead toward government subsidized data infrastructure. By moving away from pots, this would be the next logical step.

Re:Here's a comment (1)

webheaded (997188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309742)

The next step will not be VoIP over wires, but rather it will be some sort of wireless radio communication mechanism.

Yes, I can just imagine it now...some sort of wireless communication...what could it possibly be? Hold on a sec, I'm getting a text, I'll be right back with you. :p

not gona happen anytime soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309606)

Lots of long distance links are SDH, and an enormous number of equipment is using T1 or E1 in circuit mode.
The transition (I still don't understand why technically a transition is needed or even useful but apparently to some people everything looks like a nail when you have a hammer) won't happen anytime soon.

So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (1)

karcirate (1685354) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309632)

Is the FCC going to mandate the phone companies to provide battery backups for when the power goes out? And how about all those battery backups consuming massive unnecessary energy in the midst of an "energy crisis"?

Re:So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309706)

because the current system certainly doesn't require energy to run or battery backups at the switching stations...

Re:So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (2, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309846)

The current system doesn't require that a home have power --- a VOIP installation needs power there at the home ---granted a backup battery is a standard part of the installation (at least for Verizon's) but I don't believe that having a home's 911 service require a good and charged battery there in the home is appropriate for public safety.

William

Re:So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (4, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310092)

It doesn't specify that the IP based service has to start in home. As far as I can tell, it could be a standard RJ11/single-twisted pair to the base station where it then gets routed via IP.

A home user wouldn't notice the difference.

Re:So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (2, Interesting)

nate_in_ME (1281156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309878)

Ideally, a nationwide VOIP transition would be done at the backbone level, such that the end users would not see a difference in their equipment - essentially keeping the last mile a standard POTS system. However, if they decide not to go that route, I think it's important that the service be a separate entity from a person's choice of broadband service - i.e., not dependent on one having existing broadband service as VOIP is today.

As far as the power issues go, that could be handled one of two ways, in the event that the last mile is switched over as well:

  • PoE - much like the current phone handsets are, it should be simple enough for the providers to inject power into the wires much like the current system does. This way, new phones could simply pull power off the wire like current phones do. Under this type of setup, it would be assumed that whatever equipment was providing the power injection would be connected to the same backup systems(UPS, generators, etc) as the switching equipment
  • Battery backup locally - it would also be feasible, in the event that phones under this new system required a separate power source at the user equipment, simply to provide a means to install a backup battery, similar to how hard wired smoke detectors still want you to install a 9-volt in the event of a power loss. Based on my experiences as far as how often I've lost power, if the equipment was designed to use as little energy as possible, one battery should be able to last for quite some time. Obviously, YMMV depending on where you live, but there could be an indicator on the phone that would let you know when the battery needed to be replaced.

Re:So we don't anticipate any blackouts, ever? (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310090)

Most of Maine suffered a massive ice storm [mainetoday.com] in 1998. I was without power in Souther Maine for 11 days. My sister in Coastal Maine was without power for 17 days.

Verizon succeded in maintaining telephone service wherever there were wires up by swapping batteries in the SLCs and recharging them as needed.I wrote about this here [slashdot.org] .

Even a VOIP system requires wiring. Battery *could* be provided, since PoE is used successfully, but frankly the telephone company is probably glad to get rid of battery. Hey, if you're devious, this [switched.com] would be a way to take advantage of that battery voltage, another reason for telcos to get out of the DC business. ps- If you're thinking of converting your datacenter to DC voltage, ask the telcos how large-scale DC voltage service works. pps- I wonder how hard it would be to rig a cell phone charger like that? Not too hard, I think.

But VOIP could be supported during power outages. It would take cooperation and better hardware from the telco, and they would need to be prodded. Is the FCC considering this as a solution to lost 911 service in outages? Is the FCC considering this at all?

Me, I think I could keep a VOIP phone going for a while with a decent UPS. A 600VA unit should do for a while. Might be a nice business to get into.

Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309636)

By the time FCC gets around to rule making and enforcement about POTS, Google would have deployed a coast-to-coast Wi-Fi for free. It would still be called Beta though. All the telephone companies pumping voice through a pair of copper wires would go the way the companies that shipped freight over a pair iron rails. And the cell phone companies would be huddling in a corner, dazed, seeing stars wondering what hit them. They will just be joining others in the same corner newspapers, Rupert Murdoch, Yahoo, eBay and Microsoft.

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309686)

You do realize that shipping things by rail is WAY more efficient that doing it by truck don't you?

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (3, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309804)

Indeed--- as a result, even the poster children of truck shipping, UPS/FedEx, have moved much of their cross-country shipping to rail. If you order something FedEx to Texas from the Northeast, for example, chances are it'll make a stop in Hutchins, Texas [uprr.com] .

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (1)

Kz (4332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310168)

just like sending data by wire is WAY more efficient than doing it by air.

it still doesn't mean its more convenient.

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (2, Informative)

don depresor (1152631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309694)

You know that EEUU among many other countries still has a notably huge rail freight traffic, right? With trains as long as 3 Km composed exclusively by standard freight containers...

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309724)

Freight rail is still in use, and is a hell of a lot more efficient than trucking. And if it weren't for the boondoggle called the Interstate system, we'd still be shipping most freight by rail.

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (3, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310204)

Google would be well-served by implementing WiFi now, and I think it would be fun if they did it in the same sort of participatory manner that they do everything else - they ship you a cheap or free GoogleRepeater, you put an antenna on your rooftop, and in certain areas Google pays for an Internet connection that they can connect to the GoogleRepeaterGrid. The network spreads as people are willing to install and run GoogleRepeaters, and remains fast based on them adding fiber connections at strategic points along the GoogleRepeaterGrid.

If they can find a channel, the long-haul connection between GoogleRepeaters could be handled on a longer-distance higher-bandwidth frequency or range of frequencies, and the local repeaters could output standard WiFi. But they wouldn't have to pay to put up towers, because there are a good number of people who would be more than happy to install the repeater gear at our houses and help spread the signal. Google? Are you listening? You can ship it to me now. I've got a primo spot on my rooftop antenna tower with your name on it.

As to the rail thing, it's still used for a lot of transportation of goods. It's amazingly efficient compared to any other way of moving product (except maybe floating it downstream on barges, but rail doesn't have to worry about river flow directions). You might be surprised at how much of the stuff you use every day was hauled at least part of the way by rail. It's more efficient than barging it, and almost ten times more efficient than hauling by the next-most-efficient method that's not dependent on current (trucks).

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (1)

Nevynxxx (932175) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310536)

MetroNet [metronet-uk.com] basically do this in the UK now. You buy Broadband from them, and they basically decide if your roof is suitable to stick a proper mast on. Now have a nice little network accross NW England.

Re:Come on Google, Give us wi-fi Now! (1)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310408)

I live about a 1/4 mile (1/2 km) from a commercial rail line in the US - I can tell you that at least 10 trains per night of appreciable length pass over that rail and that the rail system is still in heavy use here. Another person already pointed out that rail is much more efficient than trucking for long hauls. The Google Wi-Fi system may be free for us (end users) but not for Google. They don't own any telecom backbone infrastructure, and that traffic has to go through someone's network eventually.

How unfortunate... (3, Interesting)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309642)

POTS is and has been stable and secure.

VOIP... not and never will be.

Re:How unfortunate... (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309732)

Exactly, I have shit quality over VOIP all the time. Not to mention the problems with E911, location.

Re:How unfortunate... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309818)

Why can't IP be linked to a geographical location as well as your PSTN line can? I'm fairly sure that it would be trivial for the phone company to assign static IPs to IP phones and link that to an address, the same as they do with the POTS.

Re:How unfortunate... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310136)

Why can't IP be linked to a geographical location as well as your PSTN line can? I'm fairly sure that it would be trivial for the phone company to assign static IPs to IP phones and link that to an address, the same as they do with the POTS.

Half the advantage of Packet8 and Vonage (when they were new) was the option to take it with you wherever you go. Granted, they warned specifically to update your doggone location if you did it, so 911 would work... But frankly, people are too stupid to do it consistently or reliably, and if it hasn't cost lives already, I would be very very surprised. Anyway, you could never guarantee that your WAN IP would match up to the right location automatically. ISP X could move subnet Y to location Z on whim AA, and you'd never know until the next time you go to somewhere with an ad for a dating website.

Re:How unfortunate... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310442)

But that's the point; I don't think this is ISP level. This is VoIP by the telephone company, who already hold records for geographic location based upon telephone number (at least in the UK). Surely changing 212-555-4193 to 81.44.255.255 is arbitrary.

Re:How unfortunate... (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309752)

POTS is pretty reliable; but secure? Really?

You can tap a POTS line with a couple of alligator clips and a speaker, and almost no standard telephones have even the most primitive encryption or obfuscation support, much less anything standardized.

Re:How unfortunate... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309844)

POTS is pretty reliable; but secure? Really?

You can tap a POTS line with a couple of alligator clips and a speaker, and almost no standard telephones have even the most primitive encryption or obfuscation support, much less anything standardized.

You're right. I should have qualified that a bit more. I don't see script kiddies running denial of service attacks on my POTS.

Re:How unfortunate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310000)

Chuck your phone number on /b/

Re:How unfortunate... (2, Funny)

bth (635955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310006)

We leave DOS attack on POTS to telemarketers, charity solicitations, and pollsters.

Re:How unfortunate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310328)

#!/usr/bin/perl -w
use strict;
use 5.010;

use ACME::POTS::PrankCall;

my $prank = ACME::POTS::PrankCall->new('5551234');

do {
given ($prank->dial) {
when($prank->answer) {
      $prank->fridge_joke;
      last;
} default {
    continue;
} until last; ...actually, come to think of it, I bet I could write a perl module to make Hawking-voice prank calls... hmm...

Re:How unfortunate... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309766)

POTS has never been secure. There's nothing (apart from the law) stopping anyone from tapping a line at any point between a house and the local exchange.

VoIP can be (and in many cases is) made secure through encryption (SIP TLS, SRTP).

Even without encryption, VoIP is inherently more secure than a POTS line in terms of the house-to-exchange tapping threat (it is much more difficult to tap a DSL or cable line and extract RTP packets, for example).

Security from a fraud perspective is also no more of an issue with VoIP than it is with POTS - legacy PBX systems are just as likely to be targets of fraud (call forwarding, two-stage dialing, etc) as VoIP services are.

Re:How unfortunate... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309788)

POTS is already VOIP. You're just not aware of it. Ever make a long distance call? Guess what, it's transmitted via IP packets along the whole way except for the two endpoints (your phone line and the other parties line).

Now, those packets aren't traveling on the public internet, but the whole backbone infrastructure went to IP years ago.

Re:How unfortunate... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309792)

The most ubiquitous VoIP app (Skype) is encrypted out of the box. That eliminates the "Strip the wire, attack a speaker" taps possible with the current PSTN system. Further, why isn't VoIP stable? Are you assuming there won't be any QoS implemented?

"To assume makes an Ass out of U..."

Bear in mind where we're at on the timeline (2, Insightful)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309654)

At this stage, we're about where the FCC was at in deciding what format DTV was going to be. We're around 1992 if we're comparing the VOIP timeline against the DTV timeline. It's gonna be a few years.

Not at the demarc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309708)

I really think they're trying to change the mass of interlata rules, charges, and fees since it's always been a headache - not immediately put a digital device at the residential address. At least that's my assumption. Think instead of a 5ESS type switch in the wiring office / central offcie, you instead have new hardware that takes that copper pair and is just an FXS port -> VoIP.

Accepting lower quality (3, Insightful)

PuddleBoy (544111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309780)

VoIP, while an interesting and disruptive technology, is not quite ready for ALL voice applications. Some thoughts;

It is frequently easy to tell when you are speaking to someone using VoIP. Clipped high and low tones, often choppy like a bad cell call. Most businesses will not want their customers having that experience talking to them. Residential is fine - those customers are just looking for cheap, cheap, cheap. Many businesses are concerned with appearances, and a bad call experience can sour a sale in a competitive marketplace.

Many (most?) alarm companies cannot successfully run alarms (fire, elevator, burglar) over VoIP lines. Not sure if it's latency, compression or what, but I have heard this complaint MANY times from various security (alarm) company people. In some states, doing so is actually against the law.

911 routinng - have all the 911 PSAP routing issues been resolved with VoIP? This is a biggie that most people switching to VoIP don't consider.

Your Internet connection goes down, your voice is gone. One thing you can say about the PSTN is that it is pretty dependable. In all my years (I have some gray hair) it has been rare that I have trouble with a POTS line.

VoIP has its uses - I'm not denying that. But the landline network will not disappear overnight, this year, or even this decade.

Re:Accepting lower quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309808)

Let me fix that for you:

It is frequently easy to tell when you are speaking to someone using **BADLY IMPLEMENTED** VoIP

HTH

Re:Accepting lower quality (1)

volxdragon (1297215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309908)

Many (most?) alarm companies cannot successfully run alarms (fire, elevator, burglar) over VoIP lines. Not sure if it's latency, compression or what, but I have heard this complaint MANY times from various security (alarm) company people. In some states, doing so is actually against the law.

That's because most alarm boxes use a modem internally to relay the information to the central monitoring station....and modems don't exactly work well over VOIP. All they need to do is switch to IP-based reporting and it's problem solved...

Re:Accepting lower quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310084)

I work for a nationwide alarm company. It is not illegal to run alarm signals over VOIP anywhere in the US.

It's frequently stupid, but not illegal.

And some VOIP works better than others. We can usually work with Vonage; T-Mobile@Home, never.

Cable-company provided 'managed digital' phones usually work fine.

The issue, basically, is that VoIP is *voice* over IP. Trying to run an alarm over it is about the same as running a modem or a fax machine over it. It can be done, but it's not the best idea in the world. In general we'd really rather our customers stick with a traditional landline or have us install direct IP monitoring or cellular monitoring equipment.

Many orders of magnitude difference in reliability (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309798)

In my lifetime (I'm 49), I have never picked up a telephone and not heard a dialtone.

Internet service is an entirely different story. Many times each year, I need to do some combination of computer reboots and power-cycles on my router and cable modem in order to restore service.

Since the 90s, I have seen my Internet service get slightly more reliable. But at the current rate of improvement, it will require many more decades before Internet service becomes as reliable as telephone service.

I will need to see VoIP's reliability equal to PSTN's before switching over to VoIP. I've never talked to anyone about this who doesn't agree. Who are these people who are willing to give up 100% reliability for flakiness and why does anyone think they will be a significant market force?

Last mile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30309800)

One POTS, only the connection from the CO to the home is analog. From there it is digital, which is a form of VOIP. It has been this way for many, many years. There are no technical barriers to fully digitizing voice communications, just ignorance and greed.

No RFC yet for analog on VoIP (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309810)

PLEASE FCC, come up with some sort of protocol for connecting an analog fax modem on a VoIP. I have a large client base of analog fax modems connected to some VoIP networks (a huge hospital, they won't use scan to email due to HIPPA restraints of security of email outside a private network). Over the years, I have come up with a batch of adjustment I have had to do, to get a V.34 fax modem to work on a VoIP network. Basically, you have to choke the fax modem down to 9600bps, which is silly, considering on a PSTN, you can get a V.34 modem to work at a proper 33.6k speed without too much difficulty. What's the use of upgrading an old 9600 fax to a "super G3" system, if you have to run it in 2nd gear all the time? And the manufacturers are no help, because the FCC never wrote a rule regarding connecting V.34 systems to a digital network. I understand why, they probably thought who in their right mind would want to tie up a phone line for 30 minutes to send a 20-30 page fax, when you can scan to email and send it in a flash, but, analog fax modems will be around a LONG time.

Re:No RFC yet for analog on VoIP (1)

mainfr4me (715711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310108)

I agree - my org supports customers across the US, and so many times we have to try different tricks to get equipment to work, and sometimes, nothing at all.

I'm No ure VO p is Rea y (5, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309814)

My compa y has VOIP an it see t have pro le wit cu out.

Re:I'm No ure VO p is Rea y (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309910)

Show this to your networking folks: QoS [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm No ure VO p is Rea y (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310146)

Your tele ho y dep rtme t s cks

because we use it (large value call centre) and not only did it free up our tons of time chasing bugs in a 20 year old analog/digital PBX setup. (crossconnect panel, miles of crossconnect wire in a 10 foot space), but the setup is fast and easier, phones are more feature rich, sound quality is better, and infrastucture is much easier to expand.. I can connect from home with a SIP client and talk to my employees... and lots more funky stuff that i dont have time to mention at the moment.

go to your telecom department, and teach them what a VLAN is, and what QOS is... Don't blame the car becuase you don't know how to drive it.

Network neutrality (2, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309866)

I wonder if their providers will apply the true "network neutrality" principles to whatever sip trunks they have serving them, or will the fcc traffic get priority, since they are the fcc and everything?

VoIP Can take many different forms (1)

gthomasnh (830264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30309900)

The VoIP that many of us are used to runs over the regular internet, and is subject to all the QoS and performance issues that entails. There are other options to VoIP besides hijacking your broadband connection - options that are especially important considering how many people still can't (or don't want to) get broadband service. For a large-scale, carrier grade deployment of VoIP to be successful, it must provide the voice quality, reliability, and security of the existing network. This is most easily accomplished by creating a PRIVATE IP network similar to the circuit switched network in use today. The difference is that the circuit-switching guts of the network are replaced with packet-based infrastructure. What this means for the network is that the current system of circuit-based loop carrier systems (with T1 or SONET backhaul), and digital circuit switches, are replaced with VoIP loop carrier systems (with GigE backhaul), and soft switches. The POTS interface to the customer is unchanged - they still draw power from the network. This type of transformation is no different from the conversion from analog to digital switches that took place in the 70's, 80's and 90's.

Network management woes ahead! (1)

TheLuggage2008 (1199251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310018)

They'd better not be planning on using Skype over Comcast cable internet...

ONLY if they set stricter ISP service standards! (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310028)

Right now, when internet goes down, even in corporate settings, it can take up to a freakin WEEK to get it back.. and that's just in every-day non-disaster type situations.

If the phone service goes out (that's a BIG if, i've only seen it happen 3 times in my entire life) it's never down for more than 3 hours.

Until they bring internet up to this level of reliability, I don't want to see it behind the one device in my whole house which is capable of summoning paramedics.

Re:ONLY if they set stricter ISP service standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310208)

If I could mod you up, I'd crank you to 11.
But not only the reliability problems, you've still got problems with:
Fax
Alarm systems
Medic alert bracelet thingies
TiVo modems.
Credit card machines
SOME VOIP can do it, but reliably? Bet-your-life-on-it reliably? Don't think so.

Voicing This Problem Now (1)

gers0667 (459800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310066)

You can throw away your dial-up credit card machines then. We are starting to see telcos switch to SIP trunking. Credit Card machines are very sensitive, even more so than fax, which causes them to flake out across a SIP trunk. We already can't sell dial-up terminals to people using DSL or VoIP (Vonage, Time Warner) because the terminals just can't handle it.

Bureaucracy forever (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310068)

This move ensures the FCC keeps itself well-funded despite the technology moving well beyond the bureaucracy's purpose. VoIP was desirable in part because it was free of FCC oversight/abuse; threatened with being marginalized into oblivion (at least regarding phone service), the FCC now has a plan to assert control over such growing liberties.

Kinda like the "rural electrification project" which, despite having succeeded in its goal and thus eliminated its purpose for existence, now receives greater funding than ever.

Re:Bureaucracy forever (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310462)

One of the purposes of government is to push businesses to make improvements that may be against their interest.

Take the E911/GPS requirement on cell phones. Providers weren't going to do that on their own. It cost money, it didn't provide new revenue. It may be a feature, but it probably wouldn't get people to switch companies. Left up to their own devices, it may not have been available for years and years more without government intervention.

This is the same thing. The telephone network is old. It's already IP based on the back-end (for the most part). But putting little A/D converter boxes in every phone box in the US that doesn't have one (so analog signals go digital there) isn't happening all that fast. Sure in a city where Verizon is running fiber to the home it makes sense, but what about a few miles into the farms? You think the phone companies are going to rush to put them there to serve 3 customers?

So the government will push this, and we'll all benefit. If you have IP up to the box that distributes the phone near your house, everyone could get DSL/ethernet/fiber/whatever.

And how about replacing the interface IN the house? No phone company could accomplish that. "Sign up for our service, and we'll have to re-wire your whole house and you'll have to buy all new phones!". That will sell well. If we want a transition like that to happen (before 20 years after it's needed), that's the kind of thing government does.

Also, I don't see the lack of the FCC "abuse" as being the good part of VOIP. I want the FCC to force VOIP providers to be able to find me if I call 911. The appeal of VOIP I saw was avoiding the phone company abuse. Why did a phone line with unlimited long distance cost $60 a month? Because no one could compete with the local phone monopolies. THAT is the abuse VOIP avoided that made it attractive to many people (among other attributes).

So... It already happened in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310114)

For all intensive purposes, this has already happened in Canada. Despite what Bell Canada would have you believe, they are 100% VOIP. And where Bell is going to try and take over Telus [Not the other way around as people think], they most likely are 100% VOIP as well. Cable companies are "Digital" so, they are VOIP too...

mod 3Own (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30310216)

[amazingkreskin.com] bunch of gay neg8os LUBRICATION. YOU Documents like a

VOIP is a bad term to use here (1)

NoNeeeed (157503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310240)

This isn't about getting rid of your phone and giving you a software phone, it's about ripping out the core of the phone network and it's fundamentally circuit switched systems, and replacing them with IP based packet switched systems.

You'll still be able to plug a plain old telephone into the socket and make a call.

This is the same idea as British Telecom's current 21st Century Network project [btplc.com] . When your line terminates at the exchange, it no longer connects to a circuit switched system, but to a packet switched network. For the end user, nothing much changes.

This is a massive project but most of us end users will see and hear few differences. In theory it should allow the phone companies to do more interesting things with their networks, and may help improve broadband coverage/speed (although that remains to be seen). It massively simplifies their infrastructure by carrying all traffic over a single packet switched network, rather than multiple circuit switched systems.

Re:VOIP is a bad term to use here (1)

NoNeeeed (157503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310258)

Gah, apostrofail.

That should be "and its fundamentally circuit switched systems"

Wonder what bit rate? (3, Interesting)

chrysrobyn (106763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310354)

I wonder what bit rate we can push through the copper at most houses in rural America? My father-in-law's old house used to get very bad static on the line when it rained, but voice was still audible. Would this VOIP be capable of service, or does that house require new wiring? Anything requiring a lot of people to change the wires in their walls is going to face some serious problems. I bet new hardware in the field could get 64kbit or maybe 128kbit digital without much problem. If you're not worried about a computer talking on the line at the same time, that is way more than sufficient. Since the FCC solicitation seems to suggest they're using this as a way to force wider broadband deployment, 256kbit might be the minimum for a connection intended to share with a computer, although I'd hesitate to call that "broadband".

I bet we could help with the reliability of VOIP by putting cheap NiMH batteries in each VOIP device (one per house, at the pedestal? or each device needs its own?). Enough capacity to last a few hours on standby and maybe 15 or 20 minutes of talk time would cover emergencies.

I think it would be very interesting to be on a technical committee to write a new standard to cover bidirectional communication on low quality twisted pair. There would be interesting coupling challenges with using one wire for send and the other for receive, but using a current sense methodology on a differential signal has its own ugliness too. It would be cheating to take turns every 10-100ms using a training sequence, but there would be power and signal benefits to weigh against the increase in latency and cut in available bandwidth (and if each device gets its own CODEC, having more than 3 people on the phone may have ludicrous latencies).

What needs transitioning first (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310420)

Assuming that this is not VoIP to the home, but rather everything between the last miles, there's still some transitioning to be done. Mainly anything that is data over the phone, e.g. fax machines, alarm systems, and dial up networking. This requires some physical and procedural upgrades.

There are far too many legal and medical industries that won't accept a scan/pdf over email and insist on a fax for some simple forms. Heck, even Ameritrade asked me to fax in a form or to mail it in, you'd think they could setup a web page for updating personal data.

All of the major alarm companies that offer support over an IP line have a VoIP box to continue working with the older hardware. Switching to IP would allow 2 way communication, greater scalability, lower hardware costs, etc, but I've yet to see one do this.

Dial up networking is still used by not just the rural areas, but also things like credit card transactions that are performed over the stand alone readers.

All of these will need to be transitioned off of voice technology or updated to work reliably over a VoIP based connection. Personally I'll be happy to see the death of the fax machine and an upgrade of alarm systems, but I think we are stuck with some devices for rural locations.

WTF? (1)

anonieuweling (536832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30310504)

Are you implying the network is analog to the core? Is this because of the funding of the `foreign policies`?
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