According to Nate Anderson at Ars, the FCC is beginning to commence to thinking about a transition plan from the circuit-switched plain old telephone system (POTS) to an IP-based, packet switched network like the Internet.
I initially wanted to be critical of his mention of the digital television transition. The more I think about it though the more the two may have in common. Cable and satellite providers offered full digital service well in advance of the cut-over for terrestrial broadcast, much like many telcos today are already using IP for their backbone and some even bring it all the way into the home.
Nate’s concerns over consumer education and, even more worryingly, network neutrality are probably valid. If the plan will institute existing VoIP standards, then call quality is going to start suffering from problems that are foreign to most consumers today. Again, I guess this isn’t too far different from the extreme difference in how signal degradation affects digital television versus the much more graceful degradation of the old analog system.