AT&T filed a request with the Federal Communications Commission asking the regulatory body to waive a requirement under section 214 of the Communications Act for a carrier to obtain a certificate of public convenience and necessity any time the carrier discontinues a service. Specifically, a wireless carrier that abandons a time-division multiplex wired network and transitions to an Internet Protocol enabled network would have to get a CPCN every time it does no. This requirement would entail a delay in moving to digital services, a policy the FCC has given lip service to.
AT&T is concerned, and rightfully so, that the 214 requirement will keep the company and other incumbent local exchange companies tethered to an old legacy network that does not provide the innovative services provided by an IP network. In addition, as more consumers leave the old public switched network choosing to have voice services provided by cable digital networks, voice over Internet protocol, or wireless networks, the average costs for serving consumers still stuck on the PSTN goes up. Combine that with universal support moving from the PSTN to wireless networks, and ILECs find themselves with fewer resources to innovate with.
I can understand requiring a certificate to provide service be obtained by a new entrant, but it is not reasonable to require an incumbent to get a new certificate to provide services when it has not even left a market. The FCC should approve AT&T’s petition.