CenturyLink submitted comments today commending the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for its work examining interconnection issues as part of the committee’s efforts to modernize our nation’s telecommunications laws.
The outdated Communications Act saddles incumbent local exchange carriers like CenturyLink with burdensome interconnection obligations for traditional voice services that do not reflect today’s telecommunications environment nor apply to our competitors, even though wireline carriers now serve less than one-third of homes passed and traditional telephone services comprise less than 20 percent of all local voice connections.
In contrast, Internet-based and wireless networks have flourished by utilizing commercially-negotiated interconnection arrangements that are largely free of regulation. We are witnessing a fundamental market change as traditional wireline voice services rapidly give way to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
Given these trends, carrier-specific interconnection obligations need to be retired at the same time as the obsolete circuit-switched networks on which they are based.
As voice services move to IP-based networks, all providers have market incentives to negotiate commercial agreements that allow their customers to make calls to and receive calls from anyone, regardless of the technology used.
We believe that the fundamental market and technological changes since the last Communications Act update in 1996—including the transformation of voice from a standalone service to one of many IP-based applications—eliminate the need for carrier-specific or voice-specific interconnection mandates.
Congress can best further our national goals of promoting network investment and innovation by ensuring that all providers are subject to the same interconnection requirements and encouraging regulators to let the market prevail.