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article imageRing, ring, it’s an all-IP future calling, say MegaPath and AT&T

Enter the rise of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and the slow fade of Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
Business News Daily offers a list of pros and cons every firm should consider. PSTN, also known as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), is enticing because it is familiar, setup is easy, and no “learning curves” are associated with landlines. On the other hand, VoIP is less costly and more advanced, and bundled features are available in this system that “uses the Internet and cloud technology to make calls.”
Some may worry that their Internet service isn’t reliable enough, but when the connection is down, VoIP calls can be re-routed to one or multiple phones - including cellphones. As businesses make decisions about the appropriate phone system to utilize, the overarching criteria may very well be the “ongoing push within private industry and the government to phase out PSTNs by 2018.” After attending a conference that brought together members of the telecommunications industry and partners in service delivery, MegaPath reports this takeaway: “The timeline for PSTN is coming to a close.”
Megapath, a VoIP service provider, goes on to say: "Today's businesses require a solution that will provide the functionality they need without the costs and maintenance of managing a PBX. Hosted Voice is a high-performance, no maintenance solution that gives businesses a robust feature set that helps employees collaborate and work smarter."
In preparation for this phase out of PSTNs, Network World reports that AT&T petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “to trial an all-VoIP network in two cities.” AT&T plans to conduct trials in Carbon Hill, AL and in West Delray Beach, FL.
“We chose these locations in an effort to gain insights into some of the more difficult issues that likely will be presented as we transition from legacy networks,” AT&T states. “For example, the rural and sparsely populated wire center of Carbon Hill poses particularly challenging economic and geographic characteristics. While Kings Point’s suburban location and large population of older Americans poses different but significant challenges as well.”
TechZone360 cautions that the FCC’s regulatory role will engage in “the process of speeding the transition from legacy time division multiplex networks to Internet Protocol networks.” Considerations include crafting “fair” policies, promoting both investment and competition, transitioning from copper to fiber, and whether or not the new networks “require different policy frameworks.”
The FCC’s Technology Transitions Policy Task Force has spearheaded the transition efforts. In a press release dated January 31, 2014, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, stated, “For the last thirteen months, the Commissioner’s work on the IP Transition has been guided by the steady hand of the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force. I had called for the creation of such a group back in July 2012 and was pleased when former Chairman Julius Genachowski set it up later that year. Now that the task force has established the framework for an All-IP Pilot Program, as well as other transition trials, its work is done.”
Commissioner Pai concluded by saying, “And I especially commend Jonathan Sallet, the director of the task force, for his efforts to craft a bipartisan order that aims to expedite American consumers’ transition to a promising, all-IP future.”
The promising, and likely inevitable, all-IP future for businesses can be expected to mirror that of residential customers in the near-term. According to AT&T, “In the 22 states where AT&T is the legacy ‘phone company,’ more than 70 percent of residential consumers have abandoned legacy phone service choosing instead to go with wireless services or VoIP services. And the number of housing units still connected to circuit-switched services provided by the legacy phone company has dropped below 20 percent in some areas.”
In fact, as a MegaPath representative notes, the days of PSTN are numbered. “Businesses of all kinds…will have to make the transition to IP and cloud-enabled voice and data systems.”
Echoing that vision, AT&T states, “The continuing integration of IP networks with cloud computing and the Internet of things will leave circuit-switched telephony so far behind that the only place left to it will be somewhere in the Smithsonian.”
Making an “old fashioned” phone call may continue to be the preferred method of communication for many, but in the not too distant future, Internet Protocol-based systems will be the sole means by which that happens. Businesses not wishing to be left behind, or left in the Smithsonian, are ones that will choose a VoIP business phone system sooner rather than later.
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