- On August 15, 2011, several telecommunications carriers, state public utility commissions, and other interested parties filed comments in response to the petition for declaratory ruling filed by tw telecom, inc. with the FCC on June 30, 2011. In its petition, tw seeks a ruling that Section 251(c)(2) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 entitles it to direct IP-to-IP interconnection with incumbent local exchange carriers for the transmission and routing of facilities-based Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, as well as voice service that originates and terminates in Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) format but is converted to IP in transit, known as “IP-in-the-middle” service. Commenters in support of tw’s petition, including COMPTEL, O1 Communications, Inc., Vaya Telecom, Inc., PAETEC Communications, Google Inc., and Public Knowledge, argued that the FCC already has declared in the National Broadband Plan that transitioning to all-IP networks is in the public interest, and thus facilitating IP interconnection should be a necessary part of this process. Google stated that “the promise of IP networks could be significantly undermined unless the FCC makes clear that the interconnection obligation established by the Act will not be simply left behind in the ongoing transition to all-IP networks. This is especially necessary since it appears that eventually all interconnection arrangements ultimately will be for IP traffic.”
Verizon and AT&T opposed tw’s petition, asserting that VoIP traffic is an “information service”, while the interconnection obligations associated with Section 251(c)(2) are limited to “telecommunications services”. Verizon also asserted that tw’s petition “is not about the right to interconnect, which it unquestionably has today as IP-to-PSTN traffic travels freely across networks under existing interconnection arrangements. [tw’s petition] instead is a request to interconnect with a superior, interconnected IP-based network that does not yet exist and to shift onto ILECs the cost of necessary IP-to-TDM conversions.” The FCC has set a deadline of August 30, 2011 for Reply Comments. WC Docket No. 11-119.