In a recent inquiry by the FCC to explore the transition to an IP based communication network, AT&T asked that a firm date be set for the extinction of landlines.
While it may seem absurd that a company known to have problems with its current network ask for something that will only increase its usage, it also makes a little sense.
In the letter to the FCC, AT&T wrote ““With each passing day, more and more communications services migrate to broadband and IP-based services, leaving the public switched telephone network (‘PSTN’) and plain-old telephone service (‘POTS’) as relics of a by-gone era.”
This is true. Even today most people are using services like Vonage, Cable company provided phones or other voice over IP devices in their homes. In my area the power company has even gotten into the game by offering high speed, fiber optic Internet and IP phone service. It is rare that you find someone with a traditional land line plugged into the wall. Even my 65 year old father, who hates computers and other technology, has canceled the land line phone he had since before I was born and uses his cell phone exclusively. With the exception of businesses and emergency services, the land line is almost a thing of the past already.
Nationwide calling, cheap international calls and mobility are causing the old phones to go the way of the Dodo.
AT&T wants a firm date to shut off the traditional phones in order to give them time to prepare. Granted, the problems they have experienced with the exclusive iPhone deal has caused the company to backpedal a little but it would be much worse if the landlines were simply shut off with little or no warning. AT&T sees that land line based phones are endangered and will soon be extinct. They want as much time as possible to improve the network to a point where they can handle the traffic when the time comes to turn them off for good. Not to mention the money the company spends every year maintaining an increasingly obsolete network that will be saved.
The only problem I see with this is emergency calls. Unlike the land line phones, cell phones and voice over IP communication rely on power. Should the power go out at your home you loose the capability to make an emergency call. This may be solved by the use of emergency battery supplies, which some companies already employ in their systems. Still, batteries last only so long and if the power doesn’t come back on within that time, you still loose the calling ability.