Again, my top ten things to monitor or be aware of this year are in no particular order. Each is important to the industry in addressing a required standard, regulatory issue or technology trend. So, let’s continue with item 4.
- Call Completion Issues – this is perhaps one of the more vexing issues we face as an industry and to some extent as a country because it is principally affecting only rural communities. Rural local exchange companies (RLECs) have been experiencing a rise in incompleted calls the last two years. It is driven by the fact that termination fees to complete calls to RLECs are higher than in urban areas. This affects the margins that terminating carriers can receive for transporting those calls. Various schemes are used to avoid or reduce the number of calls terminated to rural areas. Some range from transferring the calls from carrier to carrier until the post-dial delay becomes intolerable and the caller hangs up. Other practices are more blatant such as simply not completing the call and sending error messages or busy signals. The FCC and state PUCs have recognized the problem but do not have a solution in place. Warnings, fines and other penalties are under discussion or have been put into action but the practice continues. ANPI and other key members of our ecosystem believe that 2013 will be a critical year in resolving call completion issues.
- Net Neutrality – the FCC ruling regarding the protection of IP traffic over carriers’ networks continues to be assaulted by the major ILECs and cable companies. While my views on net neutrality have remained firm "we should get what we pay for”, a new and disturbing opinion has been presented to the courts in an effort to overturn or modify the rules. Verizon and MetroPCS claim that the FCC order violates their freedom of speech because they have a right to exercise "editorial discretion" over their customer’s use of the Internet. Promoting the concept of “editorial discretion” over “lawful use” is ground changing and could significantly influence the definition of the First Amendment. How the courts respond to this framing of the issue is of interest to many within and outside our industry.
- Mobility or Mobile Computing– the real questions are “What is it, how do I apply it and where is it going?” The devices supporting mobility include laptop computers, smartphones, tablets and any other computing device that can connect wirelessly with other computing platforms while providing a visual interface. Although, IT departments are reluctantly supporting the inclusion of a myriad of mobile devices with permission to connect to company servers, the issues surrounding Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are growing faster than IT departments and corporate governance can resolve. Furthermore, the number of device types and applications continues to grow. Thus the issues of compatibility, security, viruses, privacy, personal vs. company, formats, features, etc. remain in in flux without pending resolution. Moreover, a policy established at one time may need to be revised in just a few months. The challenge for service providers is to maintain and operate networks that support evolving mobile devices satisfying our customers’ expectations for quality and performance. 2031 will not bring an end to this situation. The disruption BYOD and mobile computing represents may last for another decade.
Whoa! I went a little long today. I’ll do my best to complete 7 thru 10 on Monday!