Decades ago, Silicon Valley overtook Route 128 in Massachusetts as the technology hub of the nation because California’s culture of innovation was backed by visionary policies and investments in infrastructure. Today, new investments and policies that support 21st Century infrastructure and an all-IP communications grid are essential to uphold our technology leadership and serve consumers. Creating that 21st Century Infrastructure is among the Bay Area Council’s lead priorities. The future is clear: over the last decade, the percentage of California households with service from a “traditional” landline provider has dropped by 72 percent, and every month 450,000 consumers nationwide move to new technologies, tablets, smartphones and Internet voice.
At the same time, policies supporting universal service, consumer protection, public safety, network reliability and competition have been backstopped by the legacy network. As consumers increasingly drop their landlines and transition to all-IP networks the private and public sector are grappling with the question of how to make this transition in a way that preserves those social values.
Last month, the Federal Communications Commission took a big step to find an answer. The FCC called on communications companies to voluntarily conduct real-world trials to inform the next generation of policies for future networks. AT&T announced this week that it will conduct trials in Carbon Hill, Alabama, and Kings Point, Florida. The FCC will oversee these multi-year trials.
“California’s innovation economy relies on next generation networks,” said Ken McNeely, President of AT&T California and Co-Chair of the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure Initiative. “We’re proceeding with these trials to work with regulators, industry, consumer groups and others, to ensure any issues and challenges can be addressed and that fundamental principles will be met during the trials, throughout the IP transition.”
To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure initiative, please contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.