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The Future Of Telecom

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made two votes that could impact our mobile and landline networks. First, the FCC voted to open up high-frequency spectrum enabling the creation of faster 5G networks. The second vote allows carriers to turn off landline phone networks with the stipulation that an equivalent wired or wireless solution takes its place. For example, so long as performance, reliability, coverage, access to 911 and compatibility with medical monitoring devices remains the same, copper landlines could be replaced with fiber or wireless technology.

So how will these votes impact the telecom industry?

Because we have yet to see what 5G will be, this vote will allow innovators an excellent resource. According to the announcement, up to “11GHz of high-frequency spectrum for flexible, mobile, and fixed use wireless broadband – 3.85GHz of licensed spectrum and 7GHz of unlicensed spectrum” will be open and available.

Unlike 4G LTE and other networks, these frequencies are much higher (28GHz, 37GHz, 39GHz, 64-71GHz) which means the FCC can allocate spectrum in blocks of at least 200MHz (standard 5-10MHz), thus, carry more data.

The downside is that these high-band airwaves are more easily blocked, creating a challenge for carriers. Consequently, we will likely see 5G employing a mix of low- and high-band spectrum since each have their benefits in different realms.

We could soon say goodbye to our landlines much faster than before. For carriers’ that apply, the cessation of legacy TDM (time-division multiplexing) will be granted in 30 days if they meet “a clear, objective, three-pronged test.” As stated in the announcement, the requirements include:

  • Network performance, reliability, and coverage are substantially unchanged for customers.
  • Access to 911, cybersecurity, and access for people with disabilities meet current rules and standards.
  • Compatibility with a defined list of legacy services still popular with consumers and small businesses, including home security systems, medical monitoring devices, credit card readers, and fax machines, subject to sunset in 2025, is assured.

Carriers may go this route, or follow the FCC’s “normal adjudicatory channels” to abandon TDM voice service. In relation to this, last August, the FCC required that if carriers had plans to terminate copper networks, they must notify their customers in advance (at least three months). In addition, carriers had to inform customers that new phone systems would not work during power outages and offer the option to buy backup batteries (a requirement that also extends to cable companies that provide VoIP service).

Many see both the ups and the downs of these votes, but what are your thoughts? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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The Future Of Telecom
The future of telecom is changing thanks to two important votes made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this month.

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