AT&T wants out of landline business

AT&T said the high costs of maintaining the legacy phone network were "diverting valuable resources"
The AT&T Communications Inc. corporate headquarters building in San Antonio, Texas. US telecom giant AT&T has asked US regulatory authorities to waive a requirement that it and other carriers maintain costly landline networks.

US telecom giant AT&T has asked US regulatory authorities to waive a requirement that it and other carriers maintain costly landline networks.

AT&T, the oldest US telephone company, made the request in a filing last week with the in which it also asked the FCC to set a "firm deadline" for phasing out wireline service.

"The business model for legacy phone services is in a death spiral," AT&T said. "With an outdated product, falling revenues, and rising costs, the plain-old telephone service (POTS) business is unsustainable for the long run."

The AT&T filing was in response to an FCC request earlier this month for input on plans to extend high-speed Internet broadband to the entire country.

It was published online by technology blog GigaOM.

AT&T said the high costs of maintaining the legacy phone network were "diverting valuable resources, both public and private, that could be used to expand broadband access and to improve the quality of broadband service."

The company said it was being forced to "dedicate substantial resources to an antiquated network and outdated service."

AT&T said that with the rise of cellphones and Internet communications such as VoIP less than 20 percent of Americans now rely exclusively on landlines for voice service and 25 percent have abandoned them altogether.

It said 700,000 lines are being cut every month.

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Dec 31, 2009
I really hope that the powers that be allow this and we slowly begin the transition from copper to fibre and cells through the whole country. The technology is there to get everyone reliably onto wireless services in the US.

Dec 31, 2009
That sounds very good on the surface, but how about rural america, where landlines are the only option? Given they already have one of the most profitable business in history in a business that is known for gotchas and tricking the consumer, this is just one more example of their lack of responsibility for consumers.

When I got my FIOS I had to pay for the hardware, all of it.

Dec 31, 2009
Power outage? How about what would happen in case of a coronal mass ejection that knocks out satellites? At least with wired service local connections might stay up.

Time to drag out the old HAM rig, just in case :-P

Dec 31, 2009
For what it's worth, FIOS has a 6 hour battery backup.

I tend to agree about the redundancy factor though.

Dec 31, 2009
In an event of a power outage, cell phone sites are required to have generators. Ever wonder why your cell phone works even when your power is out? Just buy a car charger.

Dec 31, 2009
I suspect that within the century (maybe far sooner) that wireless will be the only option for phones. "Cable" comapanies, if they are still around, will be wireless and point of use power generation will be a reality. In other words, all utility lines will be gone.

Dec 31, 2009
Yeah. Get rid of internet! Dont fall for it. Who is going to maintain the networks? It will be pay as you go.

We need landlines. Then they dont have total control.

Jan 01, 2010
Its the sound of big-corporate cry babies. Private-enterprise hegemony cries, because it works.

1) AT&T already adapted U-Verse broadband/TV to its copper infrastructure. Copper is not the issue.

2) POTS can be software emulated over fiber, especially less 0.7 million lines per month. Keeping POTS as a backup STD is not the issue.

3) AT&T's "Universal Life Line" services would have surged with the poverty stricken, State mandated $6.00 POTS, right after the global sub-prime foreclosures converted the worlds assets & retirement accounts.

4) AT&T got stuck with sloppy seconds; broke "Life-Line" refugees, already exploited by banks, and a hard up-sell to AT&T's new broadband U-Verse.

5) POTS and it's "Life-Line" refugees are a lemon, which must be squeezed harder to get the last few drops of juice.

Jan 01, 2010
This is a TERRIBLE idea. For the above reasons and more. I know I'm not the only person that keeps land lines because it SOUNDS BETTER and is reliable. I HATE dropouts, cutoffs, and crappy, companded sound of cell phones. So called progress is a joke. Wireless is sometimes worse than wired. But we are complacent to that fact. Cellular is a POOR SUBSTITUTE for land lines and part of the problem is many cheap Americans decided to forgoe quality. Yes I think we all should have both. I use a cheap prepaid cellular plan and only talk on it briefly until I get home, not just to keep my minutes down, but becuase talking on them SUCKS.
Keep landlines forever. Do your part and get land line service! "antiquated network and outdated service"- what a f'in joke- Azzholes!

Jan 02, 2010
Your doctor is consulting with another doctor about your health issues that will be picked up by someone paid to listen in and report it to the insurance companies.

Have you ever heard of encryption? Whenever you convey sensitive information it is always prudent to encrypt it. (and it's not hard to do that - no matter what the type of communication you utilize)

Jan 02, 2010
To understand why ATT wants out of the POTS system you need to know a bit of telcom history.

Back in the 70s, when Ma Bell ruled the telephone network in the US (see: monopoly), they owned everything related to a telephone - including renting you a phone to use in your house. Now when the government decided to break up the monopoly, they created two classes of providers: ILECs (incumbent local exchange carrier) and CLECs (competitive LEC). Now ILECs were created by splitting up ATT into 7 smaller phone companies, but still allowed these "baby Bell" companies to maintain the copper POTS system. Now in a nutshell the Act that spilt up ATT forces the ILECs to lease the copper lines running to your house to any mom and pop telecom provider at cost - they can't charge a penny more then what they themselves pay. But this only pertains to copper running to the customer's house, which is why some ILECs (Verizon) are moving to fiber to circumvent the whole issue.

Jan 02, 2010
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Jan 02, 2010
IF they extend the wireless/cell/cable service to all houses, then no problem. I live in a deep valley, a long way from the main road. No cell, no wireless, no cable, no AM, no FM, no broadcast TV. Reliability? I lose power and my landline 5-10 times a year. Copper breaks.

Jan 03, 2010
My land line is my emergency back-up. When the power fails, it is my only connection with the rest of the world. I can do without a lot of other things, but if I have no communication system, what do I do in a medical emergency? If AT&T wants to abandon copper, they should be required to provide an alternative that is as reliable as the old battery backed-up system that has served so well for many years.

Jan 05, 2010

the only reason the phone system is antiquated is because the phone company's have let it get that way. They quit spending money on the networks years ago to make bigger profits, just look how much at&t made last year in a bad economy

Jan 06, 2010
Airpipe, you obviously don't understand finances if you think profits actually translates directly to huge cash bins like Scrooge McDuck and his vault of cash. Most (all well run) businesses post a loss or break even after expenses each year. A very few hold money in reserve in order to finance future projects, like Microsoft did.

You will note that all those billion dollar figures in the news are pre-expences! Meaning that figure is how much money they received that year and is not accounting for employees pay, vendors products, electricity, gas, rent, taxes, etc... Which eats up about all that money.

Landlines are very reliable, but outdated. If they recycled the copper in the wiring, I bet that would cover half the cost of replacing it with a cell system and fibrecable.

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