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Tech Transition

What is the Tech Transition?

Tech Transition is a term to describe multiple communications technology transitions underway today.  Communications networks that have served Americans for over a century are changing – from copper-based legacy networks originally built solely to carry basic voice services – to alternative platforms built for a variety of purposes, including broadband, video, data and voice. The transition involves changing the network equipment, which uses Internet Protocol or "IP" language to communicate, and the pathways that make up communications networks, from copper wire that was mainly used in legacy networks to coaxial cable, optical fiber and wireless technology. 

Why does the Tech Transition matter?

Americans have come to expect secure, reliable and innovative communications services.  It is important for the FCC to help speed market-driven technology transitions and innovation, while at the same time ensuring preservation of the core values of our communications laws – public safety, widespread and affordable access, competition and consumer protection.

How do FCC rules for Tech Transition protect me?

Providers upgrading their networks and migrating to IP-based services must adhere to FCC rules designed to protect customers. Recent updates to rules focus on:

    • Ensuring reliable backup power
    • Protecting consumers who must be informed about their choices
    • Providing consumers options in preserving competition where it exists today

What are the concerns about backup power and how are they being addressed?

Traditional landline service typically works during power outages, but modern alternatives usually need backup power to keep operating. New FCC rules require providers to provide consumers with:

    • Information about this topic
    • The option to purchase backup power to last for eight hours
    • The option to purchase backup power for 24 hours within the next three years

Consumers can decline back-up power options and will not be forced to purchase or pay for equipment they do not want.

What prior notice will I receive if my service will be affected?

    • Service providers must directly notify residential consumers of plans to retire copper networks at least three months in advance
    • Non-residential retail customers must be notified least six months in advance
    • Providers planning to discontinue, reduce or impair service on copper networks must first receive FCC approval

What has been done to prepare for the Tech Transition?

To inform decisions related to the Tech Transition, the FCC conducted various experiments and launched data collection initiatives in 2014 to evaluate how customers are affected by technology transitions.  Using service-based experiments we examined the impact on consumers and businesses of replacing existing services with IP-based alternatives. The FCC also sponsored targeted experiments and cooperative research to learn how new technologies can more effectively reach all Americans, including individuals with disabilities, and provided funding for rural broadband experiments to help the FCC understand what kinds of next-generation networks can best serve the needs of rural America.     

Additionally, consumers were given the opportunity to provide input using the FCC's public comment process. 

Filing a complaint

You have multiple options for filing a complaint: 

    • File a complaint online
    • By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322); ASL Videophone: 1-844-432-2275
    • By mail (please include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

There is no charge for filing a complaint.

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Updated: September 29, 2015

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