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FCC: How we'll RIP 'n' REPLACE OLD phone system for new IP tech

Commission fails to mention privacy protections in migration

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is talking up the potential of a looming overhaul of the nation's telephony service.

Chairman Tom Wheeler said that in the coming months the FCC will begin working with telcos on trials for new systems which will see the traditional communications circuit technologies move to new IP-based networks.

The FCC and phone carriers have both praised the switchover, hailing the move as an historic migration which will add new capabilities to phone systems.

"History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas, and ingenuity," Wheeler declared.

"Their spillover effects can transform society – think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardized time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph."

Wheeler said that the FCC has planned a meeting in December which will bring together carriers to plan out a series of trials which will be set to take place in 2014. Those trials will then be used to determine how best to roll out a national network for IP telephone networks.

"The transition to broadband and IP services that has already begun is driven by consumers who are moving to the Internet and choosing to connect in ways not imagined just a decade ago," AT&T said in a statement.

"Like any change it requires planning. The geographic trials directed by Chairman Wheeler will provide the real world answers needed to ensure a seamless transition."

Notably absent from the chatter was any word on security. With the NSA surveillance leaks bringing a public outcry, many have pressed the FCC and other government agencies to place protections on citizens' privacy.

Wheeler has ingratiated himself to consumer advocate groups in his short time at the FCC. Shortly after taking over as chairman of the Commission, Wheeler ordered carriers to provide users with simplified plans for unlocking handsets out of contract. ®

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