At the Portals

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The FCC is seeking comment on a set of potential trials to help assess the right policies for the shift to IP. But the move isn't sitting well with everyone, particularly AT&T. Last year, the telco petitioned the agency to authorize specific testing in markets where it could convert the public switched phone network to all-IP systems. AT&T would prefer to go ahead and start, rather than wait for more info collecting. It called the notice a step forward, adding it will fully cooperate. But said it was “puzzled” it took the Commission 6 months to decide it needed such info. “We continue to believe that controlled, comprehensive geographic trials will more likely identify problems and allow the crafting of solutions. We also believe that further delays by the FCC in moving to such trials, which they themselves would control, creates more investment uncertainty,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's sr evp, external and legislative affairs. Republican commish Ajit Pai wasn't thrilled either, describing the notice as a missed opportunity. “Rather than establish well-defined trials to test the Internet Protocol (IP) transition in a set of designated wire centers–what I have called an All-IP Pilot Program–the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force instead proposes several case studies to examine what market actors are already doing,” he said. Not everyone's wringing their hands though. Stifel Nicolaus analysts called the Commission's decision to proceed “deliberately and even cautiously” good news for small-to-midsize cable ops as well as wireless and wireline telcos that are worried about interconnection rights in an all-IP world.

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