The phone network transition also calls into question the future of other rules and policies designed to encourage competition among communications providers. For example, local number portability (LNP) obligations have currently been extended to VoIP providers so that VoIP customers may keep their North American Numbering Plan (NANP) telephone number when changing providers. LNP rules encourage competition by allowing consumers to respond to providers' price and service changes without losing their phone numbers. But at this juncture the questions inevitably arises: when the traditional PSTN is gone, what will happen to the NANP? How can LNP rules extend to all phone service providers without revisiting the foundation of the NANP or classifying VoIP service?
Additionally, to preserve a competitive environment in wireline, the law must provide certainty that businesses and competing carriers will be able to obtain special access services at reasonable rates. If a carrier desires to exit a market completely,
As the PSTN transitions to new physical facilities and IP protocols, it is critical to the competitive future of the market that the law and rules ensure carriers will continue to interconnect and rules will continue to promote competition in the marketplace to the benefit of consumers.
When we talk about a system that everyday Americans count on to call 9-1-1, businesses, and loved ones, we cannot ignore users' need for consumer protections in the network.
Competition is important, but it does not always guarantee consumer protection. From the privacy of phone calls to truth-in-billing to slamming and cramming, Americans rely on a safety net of rules that protect them when they communicate with one another. Throughout and after the PSTN transition, consumers must continue to be adequately protected--including effective recourse through the timely resolution of complaints.
But on the federal level, the
Even worse, "slamming" rules that prevent carriers from switching subscribers' services without permission and "cramming" rules that forbid carriers from adding unauthorized charges on customers' phone bills only apply to providers that use the older, TDM-based, technology, and do not apply to VoIP providers at all. Leaving consumers vulnerable to predatory practices with no avenue for recourse cannot become the new normal. Consumers should not be punished for upgrading to new technology by receiving downgraded protections.
As the PSTN begins to transition to IP protocols and other upgraded technologies, policymakers must come to terms with how they will continue to protect consumers post-transition. All signs indicate that consumer protection rules will be equally, if not more, important post-transition than they are today, and if anything consumer protection agencies will need flexibility to ensure that current and future consumer protection rules serve the same basic social needs as they do today.
Most Popular Stories
- Bipartisan Budget Deal Gets Key Support in House
- Bitcoin Clones Lurch Onto Financial Scene
- Clinton to Keynote Annual Simmons Leadership Conference
- GM to Stop Making Autos in Australia
- Selena Gomez, Shakira Among Top Hispanic Searches
- PhD Project Grooms Business Profs
- How Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies Work
- Futures Fall, Holiday Spending and Unemployment Up
- Budget Deal Will Cut 220,000 Californians Out of Jobless Benefits
- Oil Nears $98 a Barrel