The FCC put together a formal task force on the issue in December, after AT&T put in its request, and has asked the company for more details.
Sean Lev, the FCC’s general counsel, said in a blog post that ‘‘we should do everything we can to speed the way while protecting consumers, competition, and public safety.’’ But he also points out that most phone companies aren’t set to retire their landline equipment immediately. The equipment has been bought and paid for, and there’s no real incentive to shut down a working network. He thinks phone companies will continue to use landlines for five to 10 years, suggesting that regulators have some time to figure out how to tackle the issue.
AT&T would like to have all its landline phone equipment turned off by 2020. Verizon’s Maguire envisions a gradual phase-out, starting right now.
If a major telecommunications line fails and there are hundreds of people connected to it, Verizon would repair it, he says. But the company wants the option to abandon the failed line and move the remaining households to Voice Link.
‘‘If you’re one of the few people on there, and Voice Link seems to fit you, why not?’’ Maguire asks.
Peter Svensson can be reached at http://twitter.com/petersvensson