FCC to prevent phone companies from screwing over copper customers [telecom]

by Jon Brodkin

Dissenting Republican scoffs at "Chicken Little" concerns.

Amid complaints that phone companies such as AT&T and Verizon are letting copper networks deteriorate, the Federal Communications Commission today said it will examine the allegations and develop rules that maintain customers' access to emergency services even after old copper networks are discontinued.

Today's vote is one of the first steps in planning for the discontinuation of the primarily copper-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The PSTN is being replaced by Internet Protocol (IP)-based voice services that rely on network technologies such as fiber, cable, and wireless. AT&T and Verizon are anxious to make the transition because they want to shed costly infrastructure and century-old utility rules that likely won't apply to Voice over IP (VoIP) services. Customers from around the country have complained that the companies are letting the copper networks rot in order to push them onto largely unregulated services.

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