Since taking office earlier this month, new FCC chairman Tom Wheeler wasted no time taking on the IP transition challenge. The initiative is now on the agenda for Dec’s open Commission meeting, where there will be a status update from the Technology Transitions Task Force on proposed IP-transition trials that involve VoIP, next-generation 911 and replacing wireline with wireless-only services. A large part of cable’s concerns with the initiative is related to the VoIP trial.

There’s no real value in conducting the trial since it would do nothing to prove "the market power of the incumbent LECs," particularly the larger ILECs, ACA said in a recent filing with the FCC. Instead, the group asked the Commission to address the problem that larger ILECs are either refusing to engage in IP-to-IP interconnection for VoIP traffic or insisting upon "unreasonable terms and conditions" to exchange VoIP traffic. Large cable MSOs want to make sure that the VoIP trials aren’t designed to favor a particular type of arrangement and preclude the experimentation that marks the nascent IP-to-IP voice marketplace today. Comcast, which has been actively participating in the development of next-generation 911, is onboard with the next-gen emergency communications trials, though it warned again that the trials shouldn’t become "an ultimatum that forecloses other alternatives."

The major cable players also want to ensure that regardless of the FCC’s approach to implement the trials, the agency shouldn’t add new regulations to IP interconnection. "A change in technology does not affect the interconnection obligations imposed on carriers by the Communications Act," Cox said in a filing. Charter supports the proposed IP interconnection trials to the extent they can "shed light on the lack of availability of IP interconnection and encourage its adoption." The MSO also urged the agency to move fast, saying there is no reason the trials cannot be completed within six months. Like other major MSOs, Charter wants the FCC to ensure ILECs don’t manipulate the trials in order to support the regulatory outcome they advocate. A Jan order is expected.

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