The public switched telephone network is currently undergoing a technology transition from TDM to Internet protocol. For competitive carriers, IP technology is nothing new. For more than a decade, new entrants have been delivering innovative services over their own IP networks. Now the largest incumbent carriers have begun to more fully embrace the benefits of IP technology in their own networks and they are using this natural technological evolution to call into question the fundamentals of our nation’s telecommunications laws and are seeking to avoid their existing pro-competitive obligations.
At the heart of this debate is IP interconnection, or the connecting of networks operated by both competitors and incumbent telecommunications companies to ensure that their customers’ can call one another. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 applies to interconnection on a technologically neutral basis, so the evolution of the PTSN to IP technology should not have a bearing on carriers’ rights and obligations to interconnect.
Efficient interconnection of multiple carriers’ networks – incumbent and competitor, alike – is a prerequisite for deploying end-to-end packet networks that bring cost efficient and innovative services to consumers across the nation.