US plans to update landline network to support VoIP

US plans to update landline network to support VoIP

The US is planning to upgrade its phone network in a move that would support VoIP over landline, it has been announced.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), revealed that the nation’s copper-based network is to be transformed into a digital one, with properties similar to those used by internet phone services such as Skype and Vonage. 

The FCC is to begin a “diverse set of experiments” in January in a bid to work out how to roll out the new IP-based phone system. 

While the copper system has many limitations, an IP landline network would be able to handle larger amounts of data, and thereby usher in an age of video calling. 

Mr Wheeler pointed out, however, that video calling is no longer a new phenomenon, thanks to services including Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and many other apps. 

Writing on the FCC blog, he noted: “This is what I have called the Fourth Network Revolution, and it is a good thing,” 

“History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas, and ingenuity. Their spillover effects can transform society – think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardised time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph.”

Legacy phone companies such as AT&T are being very supportive of the move, while also introducing their own alternatives like Verizon FiOS offerings. 

These companies find the outdated copper system expensive to maintain, and its popularity is also dropping among increasingly wirelessly connected US citizens. 

Since 2012, fewer than half of Americans were regular landline users, and many US households have no landlines at all, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control.

However, many people, particularly those residing in rural areas, still depend on the copper system to communicate, meaning that introducing a different system will not come without its headaches. Experts have also pointed out that the new network will need to work alongside 911 emergency systems.