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AT&T Submits IP Transition Trials

AT&T submitted to the FCC its plans for IP transition tests in Alabama and Florida on Feb. 28.

AT&T in 2012 proposed the trials, which will test the switch from traditional circuit-switched telecommunications to IP (Internet protocol)-delivered wired and wireless phone service.

AT&T said it picked the Carbon Hill, Ala., site becuase it is a rurual, sparsely populated area that will give it some insight into the particular challenges of service in such an area, while the West Delray Beach, Fla. test is focused on a large suburban population of older Americans, which poses "different but significant challenges."

The FCC set up the parameters for testing the transition from traditional telecom service to IP-delivered voice, which so far have drawn only two responses, AT&T and Iowa Network Services.

"The lessons we learn from these trials will play a critical role as we begin this transition in our approximately 4,700 wire centers across the country to meet our goal of completing the IP transition by the end of 2020," AT&T said.

But FCC chairman Tom Wheeler last week said the FCC is beginning to get "expressions of interest" from others "that wish to participate in our rural broadband targeted experiments.

“All of these submissions are important steps in the Commission’s effort to determine how the IP transition can be conducted in a manner that preserves the enduring values of the Network Compact—universal service, public safety, competition and consumer protection," he said.

Commenting on the AT&T proposal, former Rep. Rick Boucher, honorary chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance, said: "As we move forward, I’m confident that the IP networks and services to be tested will exceed both consumers’ and the FCC’s expectations for service, reliability, and consumer protection.”