Some customers aren't sold on US transition to IP networks

Customers raise concerns about electrical outages and mobile phone radiation in comments to the FCC

By , IDG News Service |  Legal

Many U.S. residents who have written the FCC to voice concerns about the move from copper-based telephone networks to Internet Protocol are concerned about the potential effects on health from mobile-headset radiation and what happens when the electricity goes out.

The Federal Communications Commission agrees that mobile or broadband networks being unavailable during electrical outages is a hurdle to the transition to IP-based networks.

Customers of traditional telephone service have been writing the U.S. Federal Communications Commission in recent weeks, raising objections to the planned retirement of telecom carriers' copper networks. The FCC, in January, voted to allow AT&T and other carriers to conduct trials looking for potential problems with switching customers from traditional telephone service to IP-based service.

More than 50 people have commented so far, with many appearing to be part of a coordinated effort to oppose the IP transition, although it's unclear what group is coordinating the comments. AARP, the senior citizens group, has filed comments in the FCC IP transition proceeding and has been involved in a debate over a bill to allow AT&T to end traditional telephone service in Michigan, the state where some of the people filing FCC comments live, but a spokeswoman at the group wasn't sure if AARP was encouraging its members to file comments.

Concerns about carriers forcing customers to move to mobile service may not be justified, because, so far, carriers haven't suggested that they will abandon wired service completely. Discussion at the FCC has focused on carriers offering wired voice over IP service as a replacement for traditional phone service in most areas, although that may be a challenge in some rural areas.

Some of the concern may be coming from Verizon Communication's' attempt to replace wired service with a fixed wireless service called Voice Link in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy wiped out the company's wired infrastructure in October 2012. Verizon later reversed its decision after complaints that Voice Link did not work with fax machines, medical alert services, home-security monitoring systems and credit card machines.

A sampling of recent customer comments to the FCC on the IP transition:

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