The Transition to all Internet

Yesterday, AT&T (which is an IIA member) announced it would be investing heavily to speed up Internet Protocol (or IP) transition and expand mobile and wired broadband to many more Americans. Over at Forbes, Larry Downes applauded the announcement:

At a much-reported analyst conference yesterday, AT&T announced plans to accelerate upgrades to both its wired and mobile networks, pledging an additional $14 billion over the next three years, in addition to several billion already committed.

When completed in 2015, according to the company, the new infrastructure will offer AT&T customers faster and more reliable network facilities, which will operate natively in Internet Protocol (IP).  Text, voice, and data will begin life as packets, travel through the network as packets, and arrive on customer devices as packets.

The plan marks a dramatic step forward in a long move by AT&T and other carriers toward a 21st century network infrastructure, signaling the final stage of convergence for old proprietary voice, video, and data networks to the open standards of a single IP network.

Think of it as “Internet Everywhere.”

Downes also addressed concerns from critics of the announcement that AT&T would be leaving rural Americans behind as it retired its old copper network:

[R]ural customers will not be abandoned as part of the plan.  Rather, many more will now have access to high-speed wired networks that rely in large part on fiber, with short copper loops serving the last mile.

Instead of spinning off its rural customers, in fact, AT&T will spend billions bringing high-speed broadband to an additional 57 million customers through expansion of its U-verse technology.  For residents in areas where U-verse technologies will not be immediately deployed, the company has committed to providing an “economic path” to broadband through wireless services based on high-speed 4G LTE networks.

Over at his blog, Bret Swanson of Entropy Economics (and an IIA Broadband Ambassador) laid out AT&T’s announcement succinctly:

This is the end of phone network, the transition to all Internet, all the time, everywhere.