Over on our other industry blog, Telecompetitor, we feature a post on access revenue and the growing trend of ‘phantom traffic.’ This is an issue that many are already familiar with – the trend of growing traffic on an ILEC’s switch that cannot be billed back to the originating carrier for any number of reasons. For ILECs, it means lost revenue – revenue which they covet.
As I read the post (and its comments), I’m reminded of just how complicated this issue is. On the one hand, the current access regime has been built into a rate base that helps determine the amount of investment a telco can make. Much of those dollars have already been invested, based on the existing structure. So if you ‘pull the rug out’ on access, you will materially damage the companies that have made those investments.
On the other hand, there are those that argue that access has become too much of a crutch, and is based on a system that is on its way out, like it or not. They argue that telcos should spend equal energy on trying to remove the crutch, not perpetuate it. Broadband and IP will simply overwhelm TDM traffic and its access legacy, so better to be proactive, they argue.
As is the case with most arguments, there are valid points on both sides. I don’t envy the regulators who have to sort all of this out. There will be winners and losers and there is no way to please everyone in the eventual outcome.