INGATE

From The Sip Trunking Experts

TMCNet:  TELECOM IN TRANSITION [Albuquerque Journal, N.M.]

[January 13, 2013]

TELECOM IN TRANSITION [Albuquerque Journal, N.M.]

(Albuquerque Journal (NM) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 13--As wireless, digital and Internet-based phone services reshape today's telecommunications industry, CenturyLink Inc. says it's time for New Mexico's market regulations to catch up with 21st-century technology.


CenturyLink, which acquired Qwest International Communications in 2011, is still the state's largest provider of traditional land-line phone service. But its local customer base has fallen nearly 40 percent in the past decade as cellphones and other telecom technologies gain market share.

To better compete, the company wants the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to relax PRC control over its pricing, as well as monitoring and enforcement of CenturyLink's service quality, to put the company on equal footing with growing competition from wireless and other providers that aren't regulated by the commission.

"We want a more level playing field, where the marketplace dictates things, not regulation," said Valerie Dodd, CenturyLink vice president and general manager for New Mexico.

Dodd said reforms would benefit consumers by allowing the company to offer more discounts and promotions. It would also permit CenturyLink to invest more capital in a broader range of telecommunications infrastructure and services, such as high-speed Internet, instead of pumping excessive amounts into aging land-line systems simply to comply with PRC regulations.

For example, CenturyLink provides a promotional offer in other states that provides three months of local service when packaged with other services to acquire new cusomters, said spokesman David Gonzales. Current regulation in New Mexico does not allow that type of promotion.

"(Regulatory reform) would offer pricing flexibility for certain promotional packages, and it would allow us to focus on broadband, which we feel is what consumers are most interested in," Dodd said. "Under current regulations, we do a lot of replace and repair work on traditional phone service rather than broadband to avoid PRC penalties, but we would like customers to tell us what their priorities are, not regulators." The company petitioned the PRC in fall 2011 to recognize that "effective competition" exists throughout New Mexico, which would pave the way for regulatory reform. The commission held an evidentiary hearing in October, and PRC hearing examiner Carolyn Glick said she expects to provide a recommended decision in February for review by the PRC.

The case reflects a growing trend nationwide as traditional phone companies seek more regulatory flexibility, and in some cases complete deregulation, to better compete with wireless carriers and other providers in states across the country, said Hesser G. McBride Jr., an attorney who heads the energy and telecommunications practice group of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer in New Jersey.

"It's being advocated by almost all the incumbent telephone companies throughout the country," McBride said.

Three states have completely eliminated regulations, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, McBride said.

That marks a radical break from the past, dating back to the 1984 breakup of the old AT&T, or "Ma Bell" monopoly, which divided the country's telephone industry into seven regional markets served by "Baby Bells." Since then, states have heavily regulated the Baby Bells and their successors, including Qwest and now CenturyLink, to limit their market domination so newcomers have a chance to build customer bases, and to make sure the traditional companies continue to provide adequate service in places where little if any competition exists.

But with the explosion of wireless communications, plus Internet-based phone service from businesses such as Vonage, and digital phone service from cable companies like Comcast, traditional land-line providers have lost market share.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of Qwest landline customers in New Mexico plummeted from 883,000 to 542,000. And, while Century-Link doesn't report customer totals by state, in November the company said its land-line accounts nationwide fell at an annualized rate of 5.1 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

In contrast, wireless phone numbers in New Mexico now outnumber land-line accounts by more than two to one. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission estimates that Internet phone businesses and land-line providers other than Qwest or CenturyLink controlled about 19 percent of the New Mexico market as of 2010.

Comcast, meanwhile, estimates at least 25 percent of its cable and high-speed Internet customers in New Mexico now subscribe to digital phone in places where it offers that service. The company provides digital phone in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Farmington, Taos, Portales, Deming and Gallup.

"We have competition in every corner of the state now from wireless, Internet and cable companies, even in small towns like Portales and Clovis," said CenturyLink Director of Legislative Affairs Leo Baca. "We feel strongly that there's effective competition in all four corners of the state, and in between." Critics, however, say there are many rural and semi-rural areas where competition is still lacking. The PRC's telecommunications staff and the Attorney General's Office, for example, want the commission to reject CenturyLink's request because the company has asked for a blanket declaration of effective competition throughout the state, rather than focus on targeted markets where competition may be strong enough to merit regulatory reform.

Former Commissioner Jason Marks, who stepped down from the PRC on Dec. 31, said there are clearly places where competition is still weak, and where quality of service and needed infrastructure investment may suffer if regulations to ensure those things are eliminated.

"Certainly there's a lot more competition now than there was 10, or even five years ago, but the reality lies somewhere in between," Marks said. "Many consumers may benefit if CenturyLink gains some of what it's seeking, but if it gets everything it wants, some people could get hurt. It's time for a change, but we shouldn't completely abandon regulations." Commissioner Pat Lyons, who chaired the PRC in 2012, said he will support regulatory reform when the issue comes up for a vote.

"Telecommunications have changed tremendously over the last 20 years," Lyons said. "I do think competition is now generally available, except in some of the most remote areas. Cellphones are just everywhere, so I do see some changes coming (at the PRC)." ___ (c)2013 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) Visit the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.) at www.abqjournal.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

[ Back To SIP Trunking Home's Homepage ]

Loading
Subscribe here for your FREE
SIP TRUNKING enewslettter.

Featured Partner


Featured Whitepapers

SIP Security for the Enterprise
Voice over IP (VoIP) is incorporated into a variety of computer networks, both public and private, and used for everyday transactions and communications among carriers, businesses, government agencies...

Making A Broadband Purchase Decision
Businesses today have many options for broadband connectivity. Clarifying your particular business needs prior to selecting a broadband provider will ensure an optimal match of broadband service to your requirements.

Voice-Optimized Network Delivers Premier Call Experience
Customers equate call quality with business quality. Real-time communication, interpersonal interaction, and the cordial tone of a call center representative can create a positive impression of your business that no email can match.

Featured Case Studies

Business Telecom Expenses Reduced 50%
A small to medium sized company in the midwest was interested in migrating to IP Communications, but in today's economy, they were hesitant to upgrade their communication system due to their perception that the cost would outweigh the benefits.

Multi-State Company Cuts Telecom Costs 50%
A multi-site, multi-state company with extensive monthly long distance fees and toll-free charges did not have adequate broadband for Broadvox SIP Trunking requirements, nor did they have a SIP enabled telephone system.

Discover Leisure Connects Remote Users to its IP-PBX
Discover Leisure is one of the largest resellers of caravans and motor homes in the UK. With 15 branch of?ces all over the country, the company spent a great deal of money every month just on internal phone calls.

Featured eBOOKS

Internet+: The Way Toward Global Unified Communication
Connecting the telephony of the enterprise PBX or Unified Communications (UC) system using SIP trunks instead of conventional telephone lines has been very successful in recent years.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 2
SIP trunking is becoming more of a focus for service providers. One key issue many service providers face when deploying SIP trunks is NAT, or Network Address Translation, traversal.

What is SIP Trunking? Edition 1
A vast resource for information about all things SIP - including SIP, security, VoIP, SIP trunking and Unified Communications.

Featured Videos

Broadvox VAR Testimonial VAR 1:
Part 1 of the VAR (Value Added Reseller) Partner Program Testimonials for Broadvox...

E-SBCs AS The Demarcation Point:
Ingate's Steve Johnson talks to Erik Linask about the role session border controller plays as the demarcation point at...

Demystifying DPI
How can deep packet inspection protect your SIP traffic as well as your entire network?

Featured Resources

Partner Program Overview:
Over 4,000 VARs, Master Agents, Solution Providers, and Independent IT Professionals trust Broadvox. We offer customized services and solutions to fit seamlessly into any company's business model. And when you partner with Broadvox, every member of our team stands behind you and your customers 100%...

SIP Trunk UC Summit

What's New

Presenting the New Ingate/Intertex Website:
Internet+ is an extended Internet access allowing high quality SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) based real-time person-to-person communication, everywhere and for any application. It applies to both fixed and mobile networks ...

Featured Blogs

Featured Webinars

Secure SIP Trunking:
What You Need to Know

Successfully Deploying Enterprise SIP Trunking:
Tools and Techniques for Overcoming Common Roadblocks

Featured Podcasts

Getting the Most Out of Your SIP Trunks:
Ingate's Steve Johnson and TMC's Erik Linask discuss how best practices forgetting the most out of SIP Trunking services and common pitfalls to avoid.

Featured Datasheets

Ingate SIParator E-SBCs
Adopting SIP is a simple process with the Ingate SIParator, the secure enterprise session border controller (E-SBC). The SIParator makes secure SIP communications - including VoIP,SIP trunking and more - possible while working seamlessly with your existing network firewall.

Ingate Firewalls
Everyone is talking about enterprise usage of VoIP, instant messaging and other types of realtime communications including presence and conferencing.

SIP Trunk Solutions for Service Providers
The award-winning Ingate Firewall and Ingate SIParator deliver a high quality, reliable SIP trunk connection between the customer's IP-PBX and the service provider network, and solve interoperability issues to simplify deployments and support for remote diagnosis of reported issues.