It’s very possible that landline phones will be gone by 2020.

This is probably a subject that anyone under 30 thinks, yeah, so, who cares?  People over 30 feel the same way for the most part, but there is some sort of nostalgia in the ol’ home phone.  Check out this telephone tower!

Either way, the FCC predicts that landlines will stop working within the next 10 years, and AT&T has stated that they will remove their traditional telephone service by 2020.

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For a lot of people, this isn’t news at all, as house phones are becoming more rare as people opt for wireless service.  Even now, only around 1 in 3 houses still has a landline phone.  The truth is, the home phone itself isn’t going away anyways.  This really means that the service will just be delivered differently.

This could mean cable or fiber or a wireless connection, but in any case, the service will transition from classic TDM (time-division multiplexing) to an IP service.  While this won’t make much of a difference to the consumer from a usage perspective, how it is regulated, and the prices that the customer sees, will change.

Currently, telephone service is offered as a utility, meaning that it is a guarantee for any American who wants to have it.  This also comes with regulations that mandate how the service is delivered and the associated costs, which keep prices and costs fair for all parties involved.  IP delivery does not have such regulations attached.  This can mean that providers can basically charge what they want, change prices, and not guarantee the quality of their service.  Of course, consumers are free to choose their provider, but this is a large swing from what has been in place for a long time.

Probably most importantly, there are still plenty of rural locations that don’t have broadband or wireless service who rely on DSL.  Yes, these places somehow still exist.  When the phone lines go away, so does the DSL service.  It will be interesting to see how networks are expanded to cover these consumers.

In the end, should we really care?  Probably not.  The FCC will eventually add regulations to manage the new service delivery and your service will appear the same.  But it’s quite a sign of progress to see something that has been a staple for a very long time fade into history.

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