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AT&T Readying For the End of Analog Landlines

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-was-ready-years-ago dept.

Communications 426

nottheusualsuspect writes "AT&T, in response to a Notice of Inquiry released by the FCC to explore how to transition to a purely IP-based communications network, has declared that it's time to cut the cord. AT&T told the FCC that the death of landlines is a matter of when, not if, and asked that a firm deadline be set for pulling the plug. In the article, broadband internet and cellular access are considered to be available to everyone, though many Americans are still without decent internet access."

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VOIP sucks. (4, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605788)

If I had a reliable VOIP service, I would be happy, but the most reliable thing is POTS. It's simple and it works. I know some people that are just VOIP or just cell phone, but neither is reliable enough to replace my dedicated line - I've tried it, twice, and its just not enough. Plus land lines are dirt cheap.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605820)

I dropped my land line last year - haven't missed it. I did go with VOIP because I have young kids and I want them to be able to pick up a phone in the house and quickly dial 911 in an emergency. As soon as they are old enough to use a cell phone reliably, even if under duress, I'll be dropping the VOIP. In the past I might hesitate to go strictly mobile but with Google Voice available now, it's a no brainer.

Re:VOIP sucks. (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606036)

Does your internet and VOIP work when the power goes out?

Pick up that POTS phone...hey look, still working. (Assuming the exchange hasn't been taken out, but if that's the case there's likely bigger problems than a local outage.)

Re:VOIP sucks. (5, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606198)

When I moved to where I lived I had POTS go down 3 times due to storms. The last time, a lightning strike near my house (I live in Florida) really jacked it up. Through it all my internet was available. That's what convinced me to make the jump. Since I did switch, I've never had it go down.

If my power drops, or my VOIP isn't working for any reason, the calls to my home phone are forwarded to our cell phones. And we can still call out on those until power comes back.

If our cell phones don't work - then as you have said, there are bigger problems to worry about.

But really, I don't need the VOIP either except as I mentioned, I worry about my kids reliably dialing 911 on a cell phone. Once they are old enough to do that VOIP goes too.

I've found cell phones to be dependable enough for my needs. Google Voice pretty much clears up the few shortcoming there.

Re:VOIP sucks. (3, Insightful)

ParanoiaBOTS (903635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606628)

When I moved to where I lived I had POTS go down 3 times due to storms. The last time, a lightning strike near my house (I live in Florida) really jacked it up. Through it all my internet was available. That's what convinced me to make the jump. Since I did switch, I've never had it go down.

If my power drops, or my VOIP isn't working for any reason, the calls to my home phone are forwarded to our cell phones. And we can still call out on those until power comes back.

If our cell phones don't work - then as you have said, there are bigger problems to worry about.

But really, I don't need the VOIP either except as I mentioned, I worry about my kids reliably dialing 911 on a cell phone. Once they are old enough to do that VOIP goes too.

I've found cell phones to be dependable enough for my needs. Google Voice pretty much clears up the few shortcoming there.

There is one problem I don't think you see. The way a cell phone works is that it communicates with a cell tower, that cell tower uses phone lines at some point to route your call. If everything goes to a VOIP based phone system and the power goes out, there is a pretty good chance you will lose your cell phone as well. Currently this doesn't happen because the phone lines carry their own power, so the ones hooked into your cell tower are still up. With a VOIP network, when the power goes out, so does your cell phone.

Re:VOIP sucks. (2, Informative)

SaDan (81097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606332)

Yes, my internet and VOIP and cell all work when the power goes out.

I haven't had a POTS line in over four years now.

Granted, I took measures to ensure I would have working internet and VOIP when the power went out, but it's not THAT hard to figure out what you need to keep your lines of communication open in the event one loses power.

Re:VOIP sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606346)

Does your internet and VOIP work when the power goes out?

My VOIP does - for up to 8 hours (if the local node didn't go down too).

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606400)

Your POTS phone will stop working if your local switching station is digital and the power goes out there for a longer period of time than their backup power lasts.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606520)

And your POTS phone provider will be looking at some massive fines from the government if their backup power fails and their service goes down. They have a good motivator to keep the service working. VoIP, not so much.

Re:VOIP sucks. (3, Informative)

thebes (663586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606678)

Any system will stop working when the battery dies. The point of saying POTS lasting through outages is because Telcos have to adhere (or should) to strict standards regarding availability of service and they maintain their centralized battery backup much better than a consumer does (or can).

I don't have any experience with VOIP, so I don't know how long their batteries last. However, given that people tend to use their smart phones for everything (GPS, video, audio, etc.) how much of a battery buffer is left at the end of the day to last a 24 hour outage (since power outages are generally unplanned). I know the smart phones I've used can handle a couple hours of GPS, video, audio, etc. and there usually isn't much battery left for voice or standby.

All I'm saying is that while centralization provides a single point of failure, it also provides a single point of maintenance and allows much larger battery backup than would otherwise be possible. Not to mention that it is much easier to restore power to every CO in the city to restore phone service than it is to restore power to the entire city (much like how blocks on the same grid as a fire station are usually the first to have power restored).

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606526)

Not sure if its viop, but I have phone through my FTTH connection, connected via a router... with battery backup. So yes, my phone will continue to work even without the power.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606542)

No, but my cell still does.

Re:VOIP sucks. (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606550)

Does your internet .. work when the power goes out?

Pick up that POTS phone...hey look, still working.

I'll have to take your word for that, because all the lights on the front of my Courier are dark.

Re:VOIP sucks. (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606062)

Are you sure your kids will ever be able to use cell phone or VOIP reliably when the power is out and/or injured to the point of being unable to speek or under duress and told not to?

Re:VOIP sucks. (2, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606302)

Yes - I'm sure they will be able to use a cell phone when the power is out.

The rest of your question is based on a situation that will have ceased to exist [fcc.gov] by the time I drop VOIP.

Though I find the likelihood of intruders holding my kids hostage to be extremely unlikely. I plan for a wide range of contingencies, but if someone has overcome everything else, I don't think the lack of a land line will be a major factor in any outcome.

Re:VOIP sucks. (4, Interesting)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606474)

Are you sure your kids will ever be able to use cell phone or VOIP reliably when the power is out

Cell Phones are unaffected by all but the longest term power outages. For VOIP, they make these things called UPSes. A standard "10 minute" computer UPS can keep a cable (or DSL) modem, home router, and VOIP appliance running for hours. When I was living in downtown New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina we had constant power outages and they often lasted for a good long time. I dropped $50 on a separate UPS to handle the telephony and network stuff and never had a significant outage of communications (The one time I did have a short outage, the DSL went too, so it would have killed a "pure" land line).

and/or injured to the point of being unable to speek or under duress and told not to?

Here I assume you're talking about the ability for 911 operators to find you based on phone number you're calling from. I don't know what hole you've been hiding in, but VOIP operators have been registering addresses with 911 system for years. You can tell them not too if you chose, but that seems like a sucker's bet me to me (I guess if you really feel your privacy is more important than the ability for the ambulance to get to your house...) You're partially right about cell phones here, but many if not most have GPS chips now, so you can still be found in an emergency. Some don't though, so it is something to watch out for. To be reasonable though, whatever TV may tell you, there are a fairly limited number of emergencies that will render you able to dial 911, able to survive until help arrives, but completely unable to speak. It's not impossible, but hardly a common occurrence.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605840)

The risk is that the POTS will die and those who can't get IP will be left without phone line - and left with a comment that they could use mobile phones.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605926)

who can't get IP?

i just moved to cable internet from my SDSL 1500/1500 line and the difference is amazing. DSL is like dial up compared to Time Warner. i'm supposed to have 10mbps service and yet i've tested it to 15mbps a few times. and it tests at 7mbps during peak usage while i'm heavily using it as well

Re:VOIP sucks. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30605944)

who can't get IP?

IP. Yo mama asks me to pee all the time, usually all over her.

Re:VOIP sucks. (5, Informative)

bill_beeman (237459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606230)

Actually, a very large number of us. Since the entity now called AT&T acquired Pacific Bell, extension of broadband to rural areas has ground to a halt, their public relations comments notwithstanding.

There's no cell service at my location, no terrestrial IP provider, leaving me with satellite. Given the high latency and bandwidth caps it's not a real substitute. I'd cheerfully abandon POTS, but we're screwed if we do. VOIP over satellite doesn't work. Comcast came through the neighborhood a couple of years ago, putting brackets on the line poles, but abandoned the project as soon as AT&T quit talking about expanding DSL.

I'm hardly in the back of beyond...just a few miles from Grass Valley in California, and my situation is not unusual.

So yes, the answer is that real, usable IP is out of reach for many of us.

Re:VOIP sucks. (3, Insightful)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606306)

I think that is one of the reasons AT&T wants the FCC to mandate the change. Just like the way today they are required to provide POTS phone service most places (there are exceptions) and they get funding to do so, they would like to get funding to run DSL or other broadband other places. That way they don't have to pay for the infrastructure (again) and get to reap the advantages of it (again). Those more rural areas like yours? Just like today my POTS bill has items on their to force me (and others) to pay to bring service to folks in rural areas, if we get a mandated end date for POTS my broadband bill will have line items forcing me (and others) to pay to get DSL or equivalent service to rural folks. I don't know if that is a good or bad idea - but public funding for the infrastructure with the companies getting the profit is what this is about.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606350)

I lived in a house where you could not hear a word spoken over the phone and a modem would never even connect to dialup. There was no cable, no dsl, no isdn, satellite would not work either because cutting down the state tree carries a stiffer sentence than killing a man. I could get cell reception only after driving about 20 minutes from the area. We were lucky to have power 7 days a week most of the time.

Re:VOIP sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606560)

Did you also have to walk to school in the snow, uphill both ways?

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606670)

well, that was your (or your family's) choice to live out there.

Re:VOIP sucks. (3, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606418)

So yes, the answer is that real, usable IP is out of reach for many of us.

And this is why VoIP and TVoIP aren't going to make POTS and cable systems obsolete in the near future.

It's a real shame that the US doesn't believe in investing in infrastructure. We'll let our bridges collapse, our streets be filled with potholes, our electrical grid take out 1/4 of the country in one blackout, we'll live without a decent railway system, and we'll let our Internet access fall behind the rest of the world. We'll do it all because public infrastructure is "communist".

The truth is, POTS should be obsolete. You have problems with VoIP? Well that's just a sign that VoIP should be improved, made better, fixed. Name a problem with VoIP, and there are people who will find a solution, assuming we're willing to invest in infrastructure. You think POTS grew out of the ground on its own, fully formed and without problems?

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605962)

I used to have it like that too, til they built a new subdivision around the corner -- which I then had to share resources with. Service went to hell and I went to DSL, which now makes cable in this area feel like dial up.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606018)

Basically anyone who receives POTS because of government mandate (there are lots of low density areas where the Telcos have not bothered to put in the infrastructure to handle DSL).

Wireless is a choice for phone there, but VOIP isn't going to be real awesome over satellite (which is the high speed 'option' (it is pretty expensive)).

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

BlueNoteMKVI (865618) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606172)

Those in rural areas, for the most part. I have family in a small town about 30 minutes south of Dallas (which isn't all that rural) and they have no available cable service and baling wire phone lines that can barely handle dialup. Satellite service is available, but as others have pointed out satellite and VOIP don't get along well due to the lag of sending a signal to space and back. My Sprint laptop card works somewhat but the signal isn't very strong.

Re:VOIP sucks. (4, Insightful)

NF6X (725054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606188)

who can't get IP?

People in rural areas. I can get an analog telephone line at my home (but I didn't bother; I use my cell phone), but cannot get DSL or ISDN because the telephone switch is too far away. There's no cable TV in the area. There are a couple of WiFi-based ISPs that serve the area, but they're really bad. Satellite is an option for those who don't mind the latency. I'm left with using a cellular modem for my internet connection out here, and even with an outdoor antenna, it's pretty crappy. I'd consider reliable 128k ISDN to be an upgrade. Oh, and if I did bother to have a POTS line out here and tried dial-up, I'd be able to get about 28k on a good day, and less if it's rained recently. My cell phone service out here is kinda spotty, but I still don't bother with a POTS line because I don't use the phone too much and I don't feel like paying yet another phone bill.

Now, if cutting the analog cord meant that the telephone providers would be required by law to build out their digital capabilities to anybody within their previous POTS coverage areas, then that would be great for folks who haven't had any good broadband options so far.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606620)

As a counter example, I live in the bronx and pay for 30 Mbps. At two or three AM I've clocked it at a roaring 8 Mbps.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605930)

The risk is that the POTS will die and those who can't get IP will be left without phone line - and left with a comment that they could use mobile phones.

Considering how loooooong it took to switch TV to digital, I doubt that will happen. This is probably good news, signaling that there is a real intention to provide wireless/broadband coverage nationwide -- finally!

Re:VOIP sucks. (2, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606204)

Trouble is, a lot of areas that lack broadband also lack any sort of wireless telephone coverage as well. Until last year, my mother was in such an area. Now she gets DSL (because the local library got it, and since they had to put a DSL demarc in for the library they went ahead and made DSL available for anyone on that station), but cell service is still very spotty there.

She's one of the luckier ones in her area, though, since she lives near the library and on top of a hill. That means she gets DSL and can get some cell signal, and if you stand in just the right part of the house and hold still you can even hold a conversation on cell. Usually.

Most of her neighbors have only POTS, and the telco put filters on their phone lines that limit dialup to 14.4K because there isn't enough capacity on the lines for everyone to get 28.8K or 56K dialup.

She's also one of the lucky ones on the DTV conversion. She only lost 1 of the 4 channels she used to get before the conversion (refer to the "top of the hill" note above). Many in her area lost TV altogether, and are stuck buying satellite (which cannot offer the local stations due to blackout regulations anyway). That's a lot of dough to watch the 6 o'clock news every night, especially when it isn't the local news.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606282)

You mean DSLAM [wikipedia.org] , right? A demarc is the box on the outside of the building marking the end of the telco's lines, and beginning of the customer's line

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606092)

It's simple. Just use a dial-up ISP, and... oh, nevermind.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606250)

Plus land lines are dirt cheap.

I discovered that they are nowhere near as cheap as prepaid cellphone plans for my usage pattern. I was paying AT&T $30/month for the basic land-line plan. Now I pay $20 every 3 months for 150 minutes (60 minute card with lifetime double minute bonus plus a an additional 30 minutes via promotional code), have an ever increasing pool of unused minutes, and have more more phone features than I ever did with AT&T's basic plan (caller ID, voice mail, call anywhere in the U.S. without getting raped..)

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606392)

Really $30 a month? I pay $15 with another $5 in taxes and fees. I think they're either charging people where you live more, or you're slightly exagerating.

Re:VOIP sucks. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606660)

I ditched them years ago for Vonage, but when I had a landline last it was about $25/mo for service with $5 in fees and taxes. With no optional services whatsoever. Add in caller ID and call waiting, and I was paying $45/mo. Without long distance.

Re:VOIP sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606264)

Plus land lines are dirt cheap.

Try telling that to Qwest!

Majority (1, Insightful)

SirBigSpur (1677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605806)

The majority of older people I know are still on dial up, and for the most part have no idea what broadband is. There are going to be allot of confused people when this fianally goes down.

Re:Majority (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605920)

I've heard similar arguments against killing analog TV and switching to digital. We've done that though and the world hasn't ended yet. I am sure somebody somewhere has somehow been negatively hit by this, but overall we're talking about progress here because a decadent technology has finally been done away with.

Re:Majority (3, Insightful)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606152)

Yes, but analog TV is nowhere near as important as the phone system. It's the difference between not being able to watch a TV show and not being able to call the fire department when your rural house catches fire.

Re:Majority (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606600)

I got news for you -- there are effectively no emergency services for most of us living in rural areas. The 45+ minute response time kills that idea, so we're used to making other arrangements.

Re:Majority (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606478)

The world hasn't ended, but for a lot of people I know TV has ended.

Almost all of the ones I know who were affected live in rural areas, and many are older and with fixed incomes. For a lot of them, the TV is pretty much their only source of up-to-date information like news and weather, and they were OK with a grainy picture and a massive rooftop antenna. But that's all over now. They blew their $20-30 on converter boxes and ended up with nothing. The few who can afford satellite TV have lost the local stations they used to rely on for their major news source. Some of the lucky ones have one or two channels left from the four they had before the conversion. A very few have two or three. Most have none. And with broadband unavailable, dialup limited to 14.4k due to telco filtering, no cell signal, and landlines with dialup topping $50 a month, getting information is becoming increasingly difficult.

I'm not saying the conversion was a bad thing, it will certainly open up vast new opportunities for communications. It is a shame, however, that the very people who gave up their old information sources are those who will not be able to take advantage of the new ones that replace them. AT&T/Verizon/Sprint are NEVER going to put WiMax in deeply rural areas, and even if they did many of the people who have lost access to TV could never afford it anyway.

I fear the same will happen with telephone if AT&T gets its way. I realize it's difficult to cost-justify getting information out to rural areas, but at least leave them a phone line.

Re:Majority (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606208)

Well, they will not be very confused if AT&T just comes and replaces their local exchange with a version that still serves the same wiring in their homes with the same phone numbers, but handles outbound communication through Internet.

Fantasies... (4, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605812)

Aaah! The delicate irreality of think-tank fueled corporate musings that are mostly thinly veiled attempts at doing away with current regulation and obstacles to pure profitability

Re:Fantasies... (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605900)

It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!

Uhh, of course! (1)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606498)

Did anyone think for a second this wasn't a thinly veiled: "hey, why don't you spend your stimulus budget on IP infrastructure?"

But that's how it works in North America: publicly funded, privately managed. Federal money will (hopefully) create a public, reliable, IP network that brings one connection to the home we use to choose our content (phone, tv, media) providers. Maybe now we'll get our internet up to the level of a developed country like, say, South Korea... or a better part of Europe.

As a Slashdot user I'd jump on this right away, but not blindly. Now is the perfect time to educate people about options and freedom that come with common carrier [wikipedia.org] laws, and make sure those come attached to any build-out funds.

-Matt

One step at a time AT&T (2, Insightful)

228e2 (934443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605846)

Lets stabilize the current cellular service you currently offer before assuming you can handle the onslaught of customers when the 'cord is cut'.

Speaking of handling loads, how are you doing with the barrage of iPhone users?



Before you all jump on me, I am a happy AT&T customer. I am just being bluntly honest.

Of course AT&T wants landlines cut.... (5, Insightful)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605852)

Have you seen how much they charge for broadband access via wireless? Seeing as its already normal practice, its a nice way of forcing all those DSL customers to pay by the bite. Not to mention where ever the government mandates an update to necessary infrastructure, a huge hand out isn't far behind.

As far as AT&T is concerned though, I have them, and my calls drop at my house all the time in a city of around a million people. Screw them, course it's not just them, Verizon and Cricket both dropped calls at my house too. A-holes, all of em. Each one of them should change their slogan to "Providing the least amount of service possible to as many people as we can dupe for the most amount of money that the market will bear."

Now THATS a true company mission statement if ever I heard one...

Re:Of course AT&T wants landlines cut.... (4, Funny)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605906)

Oops BYTE not bite...yeah, I know, I know, nerd card revoked..sigh

Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (4, Insightful)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605868)

This system has been built up over 100 years, the reality is they want to cut costs and force people to pay more for the same service they get for $29 a month.

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (1)

Viewsonic (584922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605938)

This is exactly it. They want people to pay $100 a month for useless, locked in plans. Phone deals like they used to do with land lines in the past will come back again, more money for them. If the FCC forces them to offer $10/mo plans with no extra fees, then sure, but somehow I doubt AT&T wants that.

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (1)

IcyNeko (891749) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605984)

AT&T and "reasonable plans" are words that do not belong in a sentence unless separated by a negative descriptor.

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606382)

somehow they stay in business. Perhaps "...reasonable to you..." should be in there somewhere due to the fact that a lot of people find them reasonable.

Either that or they're being held at gun point to buy the plan.

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (3, Interesting)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605982)

i've had voip since 2003. my inlaws just got phone via their cable service and i just cancelled vonage in favor of Time Warner. in all cases it's cheaper than landlines. $30 - $35 a month gets you unlimited local and long distance calling and a ton of features like caller ID and conference calling that they nickel and dime you for on POTS

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606106)

nice try fag

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606272)

My landline is £20/month, which gets me unlimited national calling (60M people), unlimited calling to some other countries (US, CA, DE, IE, FR, ES, AU, NZ, NL, IT) and 8 Mbit/s ADSL.

Still, I'd prefer to get rid of the phone service and have the ADSL use the whole line. (The fastest ADSL here is up to 24Mbit/s. Presumably this could be increased very easily if the line didn't have to be shared with phone service.)

Re:Never sacrifice proven infrastructure (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606536)

$30 - $35 a month gets you unlimited local and long distance calling and a ton of features like caller ID and conference calling that they nickel and dime you for on POTS

Yeah, that's $30-35 a month in addition to your internet connection.

When I was on cable, the cheapest I could get a package deal was $110 a month (after taxes/surcharges) for high(lol) speed internet, VOIP, and cable (which I didn't even want, but came with the package deal).

I switch back to Land line + DSL and for $45 a month (after surcharges) I have all of my local calling and emergency services covered on the land line (it's like $15 a month), and all of my internet services (including VOIP calling for long distance) at the same lol-worthy speed of my cable provider.

Why, as a consumer, would I want to give up the cheapest and most stable portion of my communication system?

-Rick

You gonna pay for it? (1)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606510)

Are you gonna pay for the upkeep on a system that is no longer economically viable? Sure POTS was built up over 100 years, but most of that buildup was when it was new technology (or the only technology) and there were lots of willing customers. That age is LONG gone. Come on, 25% of US households have no landline at all. And that number is growing every year. So as the critical mass of people using it goes away, who is gonna be left to foot that bill? When all your neighbors ditch landlines, are you gonna pay for the phone lines for your whole street that reach your house?

POTS will die. It isn't an if... it's a when. So, we mandate the newer tech (VOIP and cell) and bring them up to the same level of service as POTS (which will be painful for some companies) and switch the universal service fund so that those of us with IP will have to kick in a buck every month to pay to wire IP to all the folks who live in places without IP... the same way we did with the fund and POTS.

I would like to see... (2)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605936)

I would like to see ATT say this, with the knowledge that they would have to provide the equivalent of "Universal Access", be it with broadband or cellular.

Frankly, I don't think they're capable of doing such a thing (technically, yes, they're capable, but I highly doubt they'll want to subsidize Universal Access, particularly with cell service).

Isnt it ironic ? they are the ones withholding (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605978)

decent internet access from many people because it is unprofitable for them to deliver, while still holding on to their granted monopolies in those areas. and then they even go to the extent of saying that they want to cut the landline cords. this basically means a lot of people will not only be without decent internet access, but also decent phone communication. unbelievable bastardiness.

yet, if, any government agency would, god forbid, to step in to eliminate this blatant slighting of citizens, those bastards all start up yelling 'competition' , 'hands off business', 'no government intervention', 'socialism'.

maybe socialism is indeed what is needed. for, apparently, what we have on our hands became an outright feudalism.

Re:Isnt it ironic ? they are the ones withholding (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606354)

Ironic, isn't it, that this is coming from the most awful coverage wireless provider?

and it's really annoying when people (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606358)

start a conversation in the subject only to finish it in the body of the comment.

Knock it off.

Re:Isnt it ironic ? they are the ones withholding (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606582)

yet, if, any government agency would, god forbid, to step in to eliminate this blatant slighting of citizens, those bastards all start up yelling 'competition' , 'hands off business', 'no government intervention', 'socialism'.

Why would the government forbid something that they initiated by asking ATT this question in the first place!

Landlines are the most reliable and proven communications technology in use today. It's used everywhere, well understood, and proven to be highly versatile over the years. Cutting the line would be bad for everyone - VoIP and Cell service only last so long on battery power in an emergency (ie:blackout), but landlines can last for days -- in the 2003 blackout internet went down immediately, cell's became sketchy and went out altogether within a day, but landlines worked throughout the blackout without a hitch.

Re:Isnt it ironic ? they are the ones withholding (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606638)

One more thought for the year ...

Of course, landlines only work in a blackout if you have an old, simple, corded low-tech phone. Unfortunately, the masses have forgotten this in favor of cordless phones and base stations, such that most people don't realize they should keep a plain old wired landline phone around for emergencies . . . so for those people VoIP and their UPS might be an improvement.

latency oh latency. (0, Offtopic)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30605994)

What could possibly go wrong? I said.
My network should fly over head!

Through the air my data will go.
To where, to who, I wouldn't know?

Thanks to WEP my data is Encrypted.
At least until a hack has been scripted.
(..... [tech-faq.com] )

Requirements need to be clear and solid (2, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606006)

Any proposed replacement must satisfy the following conditions showing it is a true improvement

a) be cheaper now and for the long term for customers
b) be more reliable
c) provide better 911 and other emergency services information

From the above
a) there will not be an initial upfront customer cost over and above current costs.
    If it is to be cheaper overall the provider is to eat the up front cost and just delay reducing costs to the customer.
b) things like a touch tone charge are disallowed
c) it must not depend on power available at the customers site
d) digital features like allowing customers to add a digital description containing things like number of house occupants, ages, medial conditions to be sent along with a 911 call should be considered.

Re:Requirements need to be clear and solid (1)

EndlessNameless (673105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606360)

WRT: "c) it must not depend on power available at the customers site"

I'd be OK with this as long is there is some sort of battery backup, and the cost of power and battery replacement is factored into the consideration of (a) cheaper.

If the battery is automatic, I'd say a minimum of 72 hours. If it's toggled on for use as needed by the customer then 8 hours should be enough to get through most outages.

Re:Requirements need to be clear and solid (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606630)

I agree with most of what you're saying, but "toggled on for use as needed?" Oh, just a second - don't call me yet I have to turn on my phones. Part of having a working line is being able to receive calls.

Cut landlines? Implications... (0, Offtopic)

Cinderbunny (1599289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606008)

I was always under the impression that landlines were necessary. When there's a power outage you can't use cellular or cordless. I hate to sound like an idiot, but it seems like I'm missing some integral part of the story here. How would this work?

Re:Cut landlines? Implications... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606104)

yeah.. and my house security relies on a landline, not VOIP, to work.

Re:Cut landlines? Implications... (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606372)

My house security system has its own battery backup and cellular interface (not entirely sure what hardware it uses) to the alarm company.

Re:Cut landlines? Implications... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606504)

In a power outage, you can use cellular - maybe. Depends on how the towers are configured. Some towers just have minimal battery UPS systems, some use generators. In an extended outage, a cell phone company would have to maintain power on (most) every tower as compared to a more centralized POTS facility. Likewise, it has to keep power up to the backhaul systems. Doable, but more expensive and we know how well our favorite cell phone providers are with 'expensive'.

Cordless phones are easy - a battery UPS - but most people won't bother. If you have a basic POTS phone, one that doesn't need external power for basic operation, then it can get power from the POTS line.

There is no intrinsic reason IP based systems can't be as reliable, or more reliable than POTS, but it typically doesn't happen that way.

Sure, but... (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606032)

Make sure I can still call a frigging ambulance when the electricity is out to my house and their local DSL box. This should include powering and charging cordless phone base and receiver typically used with VOIP for a few days.
And that I can just dial and hang up and have someone local check out my house/apartment, not just give highway patrol my phone number or at most the broad area that GPS suggested.

I still don't like the concept that my 911 or other calls can be disabled by a new worm attacking the unpatched windows idiots, but I am not sure what AT&T can do about that, given that they don't control most of Internet's core infrastructure.

No Landlines? Hah. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606034)

There still is nothing as reliable as a plain regular analog telephone line, as engineered by the fine people who used to work at AT&T.

Even though I love my blackberry, I'm going to keep my POTS line for a very long time. My POTS line has worked flawlessly from the day it was installed for over 10 years.

I love this line from the article: "It makes no sense to require service providers to operate and maintain two distinct networks when technology and consumer preferences have made one of them increasingly obsolete."

Lies. The analog portion of the phone system is only in the last mile. The backend of the phone system has been digital for a very long time, and it is ALREADY common to see IP-based backhaul with QOS.

True, True (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606038)

[T]hough many Americans are still without decent internet access

If they're AT&T customers that's probably especially true.

I have no problem with removing analog phone lines from a requirement as long as they're required to still provide phone service to rural areas via VOIP boxes or cell to landline convertors or something similar. I think they'll find that the whole thing will wind up being more expensive than just keep analog pairs around (especially if the phone still needs to work in a power outage).

Analog lines aren't just for phones ya know... (3, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606058)

Fax machines and Stand Alone Credit Card terminals require them too. You can sometimes jury rig it to work, but it's a crap shoot....

Re:Analog lines aren't just for phones ya know... (1)

wilsonjd (597750) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606366)

There are IP credit card terminals. They are much faster than phone line ones too.

Re:Analog lines aren't just for phones ya know... (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606408)

With the right hardware, fax machines, credit card terminals, and satellite receivers can work over VoIP. I used to have to support folks with VoIP service at a wireless ISP, so I know it can be done. It's not as fast as a normal POTS line (usually limited to 9600 baud connections or lower), but I've seen it work.

You could also move away from a fax machine to a PDF scanner, and get credit card terminals that work over ethernet, then send everything over your internet connection instead of doing analog to digital to analog conversions.

Re:Analog lines aren't just for phones ya know... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606420)

I have two answers for you there. T.38 and terminals with ethernet jacks.

Re:Analog lines aren't just for phones ya know... (1)

IgePanda (1611329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606606)

Fax machines and Stand Alone Credit Card terminals require them too. You can sometimes jury rig it to work, but it's a crap shoot....

Fax Over IP would be a viable solution. We just don't have the standalone devices as of yet, but it would be pretty trivial for AT&T to setup a fax receive service. T-mobile I believe already has something similar already but my info on that is out of date. Outbound would require different standalone hardware, but I expect Canon/Epson/HP and such would be more than happy to offer an inkjet with this funcationality for a trivial fee and ink.

Stand Alone credit card terminals should be less of an issue since they typically operate below 9600bps. I've at least heard of Vonage service used for these things. But network CC terminals exist.

silver lining (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606064)

All of the valid points/problems in the previous comments aside, at least this would finally put an end to fax machines, eh?

Re:silver lining (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606300)

Good luck getting rid of fax machines. Some businesses still require either fax or snail mail to send legal documents ... e-mail attachments and other such things are not acceptable alternatives.

I would have dropped my landline by now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606096)

...if AT&T hadn't dropped from 4 bars to 2 in my area.

Honestly, their cell network is nowhere near ready for a switch. Large areas aren't even covered by EDGE. And the way their network is collapsing under the weight of a handful of people reading nytimes.com from their iPhones, I really don't want to see what it looks like with even more users.

If AT&T wants that... (5, Insightful)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606118)

If AT&T wants the FCC to set a date to cut landlines, the FCC should force AT&T (and other corporations) to get the country's infrastructure up to snuff first. We can talk about dates after that.

Some other roadblocks (5, Insightful)

BlueNoteMKVI (865618) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606130)

I've used VOIP for years at both my business and my house - but we still have a landline. Just a few other roadblocks we ran into that weren't mentioned:

  • faxing is unreliable. Yes, businesses should migrate into the 21st century and ditch the fax machine, but MANY businesses (including many of my suppliers) still rely on the fax for their daily operations. We've gotten around that by using a fax-to-email service, but that's sometimes a pain to deal with.
  • credit card machines are similar (also using a modem). Again, move into the 21st century and use an IP connection instead, but change is hard. Many businesses are still using their 20 year old credit card machine, and until you phase those out you'll still need a landline.
  • security systems apparently don't work well without a landline - I don't know the mechanics of it but I suspect it's similar.
  • The biggest issue - VOIP is simply not reliable. POTS lines are required by federal regulations to have a certain uptime, VOIP lines are not. If your VOIP provider goes down in the middle of a business day you have no recourse other than perhaps an SLA agreement with them. We use several and they're generally very reliable, but not to the standard of the good old copper line.

I love the flexibility I get with VOIP, I can work from anywhere with a decent internet connection and have all kinds of routing options through my Asterisk server, but we still have our incoming calls defaulting to a POTS line that runs into the Asterisk box. VOIP is constantly gaining ground but it's not there yet.

Will VoiP phones be powered over ethernet? (2, Informative)

sizzzzlerz (714878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606140)

Or (as I believe would be the case), the phone is powered from house wiring meaning, if your power goes out, you've lost your phone service. If the central office provides the power for the local loop (as is currently done), they have batteries fail over to when their power goes out. Several years ago, my power went out for 3 days. Using an old dial phone which didn't require external power, I still had phone service.

Re:Will VoiP phones be powered over ethernet? (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606442)

I doubt this is possible with the current POTS wiring infrastructure, but it wouldn't take much of a battery to keep the ethernet port alive on your DSL or whatever modem they supply for a reasonable amount of time.

The town where I grew up had an older central office with no generator. Once the batteries went, POTS went as well.

Bottled Water (4, Interesting)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606148)

This plan is like saying municipal water is outdated and unnecessary because "everyone" can buy bottled water.

Trading monopoly for oligopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606162)

I just cut my landline, it was garbage. The phone company wasn't about to bring DSL or Fios to my area, and no one that I wanted to hear from was likely to actually call it. I think that if all of my neighbors do similar, we may actually get decent Internet access out there. The cable company just started offering TV out there, and alas no broadband. They're late to market, and the main reason that I'd purchase their service is not offered.

copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606190)

there's copper in them there lines. our slave script has become so devalued that the copper is worth a huge amount of script. as members of the slave class are starting to rip wires out of the ground to sell for food it becomes increasingly important to companies to get to the metal first either to liquidate it or to better secure it.

Sure you can stop supporting landlines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606210)

...when you start supporting a cheap and reliable alternative.

I'm not going to hold my breath.

Don't take my POTS! (4, Interesting)

bloosh (649755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606212)

I'll keep my land line at my house active as long as possible.

I have three small kids and I need something absolutely reliable in case of an emergency.

While I do absolutely love modern mobile tech (Droid!), I prefer using a land line while at home. I simply don't enjoy having long conversations on a mobile phone. The newest phone at my house is a Nortel Meridian M9616CW which was (for me) the ultimate geek phone in the mid 90s. They seem to fetch a good price:

http://www.telephonegenie.com/customer/product.php?productid=16149 [telephonegenie.com]

The rest are all Western Electric, Automatic Electric and ITT phones from the early 40s - 70s that I've collected and repaired. They all work perfectly (even rotary dialing) on the Cox Digital phone service.

As the article mentioned, POTS is preferable in disaster areas. I live in an area of New Orleans that didn't flood in Katrina. The only way I was able to contact people in my neighborhood who stayed for the storm was on their land lines.

Crumbling Infrastructure (2, Interesting)

seven of five (578993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606254)

In our northside Chicago neighborhood, the ATT-maintained land lines get all noisy and cross-talky whenever it rains.
We can hear other conversations on the line.
We call the 611 number, and they fiddle with it, it gets better. The next time it rains, the lines get noisy.

I'm completely unsurprised that ATT doesn't want to have land lines anymore. They're too cheap to be bothered with upkeep.

Sooner or later (3, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606342)

The problem is one of market share and costs. At some point, the costs of maintaining POTS will exceed the revenue produced by it. When that happens, or maybe a little before, POTS is dead. It really doesn't matter if not everyone has switched over or not, it will just be terminated.

That is the reason they want an announced-by-the-government date, as it would eliminate the carrier from being the bad guy.

The problem is today end-user vVOIP has no tariffs that require reliability. If Vonage service goes out, so what? Because of the number of hands it has to go through, it is unlikely we are going to see much mandated reliability for VOIP service anytime soon. This means that your "landline" phone is not going to have anywhere near the reliability that POTS service has today, and there will be no regulation that says it has to be.

All in all, this sounds like an interesting, but utterly useless idea. But unless something is done about pseudo-carriers like Vonage and Magic Jack POTS service is doomed.

AT&T (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606424)

I just moved to an area where the choice is between AT&T and cable (Cox).

Once again, AT&T proved itself to be at an uncharted level of evil leaving all others, including cable monopolies, far behind.

Do yourself a favor and untether yourself from the evil grid - you'd save a bundle just for the reduced spending on blood pressure pills.

Fuck AT&T (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606444)

I hate this company so fucking much that I would snipe their employees and seriously vandalize their buildings if I could do it and get away with it.

If any of you Deathstar employees are reading this, YES I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU. I wish you dead, all of you.

I would love to have Randall Stephenson's head hanging on my wall above my fireplace.

The Real Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30606450)

Has anyone considered the real cost of maintaining the wire line infrastructure? Perhaps the cost savings of not having to maintain such an infrastructure will help fund the rapid expansion of wireless IP based services.

That’s my 2 cents.

People will die (5, Insightful)

W.Mandamus (536033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606602)

In Katrina the power went out, the cell phone towers went down, the police multiplexing radio stopped working. The only communication people had when the water started coming into their homes were their analog phone lines. When everything else stopped working those remained operational. I still remember people calling in to a local radio station (from their landlines) to say that they were trapped in their attic and request help. Getting rid of analog phones is the worst idea I've ever heard and shows that that the people suggesting it have never seen the information black hole that results from a major disaster.

Credit card machines (1)

ChadM (102789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30606610)

The majority of dialup credit card machines on the market do not work well with VOIP lines. If AT&T forces this change, a few hundred thousand small businesses will be forced into buying new machines.

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