Originally published: October 4, 2013
Last updated: October 16, 2013 - 3:54pm
[Commentary] We're in the middle of a debate in this country about the "transitioning" of the PSTN, or "public switched telecommunications network." You know, that thing with the phone numbers. Just as electronics replaced electromechanical switches, which replaced human operators, new kinds of networking technology (packet-switched) are replacing older kinds of networking technology (circuit-switched). The Federal Communications Commission almost certainly has the authority it needs to manage the transition successfully. But even if it doesn't, we'll need to amend the statutes.
One of the things that needs to still work -- or maybe even work better -- after the transition is caller ID. We don't think we should keep the PSTN concept around just because we love good old-fashioned telecom regulation for its own sake. Our point is that a lack of coordinated attention to important, but technical issues like caller ID spoofing shouldn't be allowed to erode people's trust in the concept of making a "phone call." A lack of forethought on the issue of interconnection should not lead to "network neuropathy" where the current problems with rural call completion are magnified a thousand-fold. The PSTN transition is happening, and it's important that things don't get screwed up.
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