Wheeler Signals IP Transition Order For January

FCC Chairman Tom Weeler says it is time to act on the IP transition and signaled he wants to vote on an order at the January public meeting to speed transition trials.

Calling it the "Fourth Network Revolution," Wheeler suggested in a blog post Tuesday (Nov. 19) that the time for pondering proposals was at an end and it was time for that revolution to begin in earnest.

"Almost a year ago, AT&T and NTCA asked the Commission to begin proceedings to examine the impact of network change on customers. The Commission sought comments on those proposals and expanded the scope of its examination with the creation by Chairman [Julius] Genachowski of the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, which issued a further Public Notice in May. To that, and the earlier proceedings, the Commission has received more than 400 comments, letters, and presentations from companies and organizations, including incumbent carriers; rural carriers; competitive carriers; cable companies; wireless providers; VoIP providers; federal, state and local government entities; telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers; public safety entities; and public interest organizations. We have listened, and now it is the time to act."

To that end, he said that he would get a presentation at the December public meeting from the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, "with the expectation"--perhaps some wiggle room there--that the January meeting would include vote on an order for "immediate action."

He said he expected the order to include recommendations on how to begin trials of the impact on consumers and businesses of the transition--including considering AT&T's longstanding proposal of geographic trials--and collect data to supplement those experiments. He said protecting and information consumers would be major components.

He is looking to create a game plan for managing the various "adjudications and rulemakings" that will constitute that transition.

"We congratulate Chairman Wheeler for his leadership and vision," AT&T said in a statement. "Today's action is a significant step forward for the industry. But, importantly, as you can see from Chairman Wheeler's blog, it is also critical for American consumers."

"The Chairman is showing strong leadership on this issue," said Harold Feld, SVP of Public Knowledge. "It's important that the FCC show that this transition is not just about AT&T's or any other carrier. It impacts the lives and well-being of every American. Nobody should doubt that this is a complex process, but it's important that the FCC lead the transition and and take a major role in coordinating its outcome."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.