PSTN to close in the US?

11 July 2011 | Kavit Majithia


The issue has been under debate for months, and now it seems the FCC has moved a step closer to setting a date for the closure of circuit-switched networks in the US.

If pushed through, the decision could mean the replacement of PSTN networks in the US but also mean the continued preservation of embedded last mile copper so new technologies developed by established telcos can take advantage of it. The FCC’s Technical Advisory Council is proposing the issue be brought open for evaluation, rather than letting the network eventually being unused and becoming redundant.

Paul Budde, of the BuddeComm consultancy, has however spoken openly about his reservations to such proposals, and believes the FCC should be wary of simply transferring networks from one technology to another because it still gives the incumbents in the US the same power, especially on a copper-based solution. “If the US is serious about its digital economy it can’t let these incumbents be the gateway keepers to that economy - any new infrastructure used for that purpose should be based on open networks,” he explained.

BuddeComm was part of the discussions with the Obama Administration, the FCC and the Department of Commerce for the introduction of a US National Broadband Plan, and a report published today by the group expressed great disappointment at the progress of the digital economy, in which “the transition from copper to fibre-based infrastructure is essential” for success.

The report notes that Australia is the only country properly planning for the closure of its PSTN, and two deals worth $12 billion with leading operators Telstra and Optus have already been signed as the country prepares for the closure of copper and HFC last-mile networks.

Budde believes the US must make similar moves, like the Australian regulator, in order to achieve the closure of a copper-based network and lead the way towards a fixed open network. Budde has controversially claimed it is the “dysfunctional political system in the US that is preventing any progress being made”.