Lifeline Program in the Times of Technology Transitions

Lifeline Program in the Times of Technology Transitions

The ways we share and exchange information is changing fast, driving tremendous benefits for consumers and businesses throughout the country. US is buzzing with smartphones. In fact, more than 55% of U.S. wireless consumers have smartphones, whereas the figure was 16% in 2009. We had iPad launched less than five years ago; and today, more than one third of consumers have a tablet or e-reader. A staggering 50% of US adults under 35 now live in households without wireline phone service. That shows the advent of wireless communication in a big way.

FCC is working to make sure that their policies keep pace with this rapidly evolving communications landscape. Their wheeling has taken us through major technology transitions — from narrowband to broadband; from time-division multiplexing (TDM) to Internet Protocol (IP); from copper to fiber; from only wireline services to greater use of wireless. They are focused on accelerating these trends to serve the public interest.

Over the past few years the FCC has made significant progress, including developing the country’s first National Broadband Plan, revamping the Universal Service Fund from voice to broadband, transforming the inter-carrier reimbursement procedure and more wireless broadband spectrum.

FCC’s Technology Transitions Task Force continues its work on the basis of an open process, robust data, and careful analysis. Their work is focused on determining what policies these key principles require in today’s marketplace.

Most importantly, we need to consider that technology transitions are not happening overnight. Also economic requirement alone will need vendors to support both existing legacy technologies and new ones for a significant time. Technological transitions are an iterative process that determines the timing and pace of the technology transitions within a network. The pace of these technology transitions varies provider to provider. However, network upgrades are often driven by business decisions and hold the promise of significant consumer benefits. Networks try to do everything they can to speed the way while safeguarding customers.

These transitions present enormous opportunities and some key challenges. We also need to keep in mind that technological transitions do not change the values codified in the Communications Act, and FCC remains committed to advancing a set of core principles rooted in those values.