Voice-over-IP (VoIP) has been regarded merely as an add-on to America's regular, analog-based copper and cellular voice networks -- networks that are currently maintained as a matter of legal requirement.
The FCC isn't
necessarily such a stickler for tradition, however, as it is now
encouraging phone networks to explore what would happen if VoIP replaced
In other words, how would the system cope if the only
phone numbers were Internet Protocol addresses; if even emergency calls
were transmitted over the web; and if remote rural communities
became dependent on VoIP, with no other type of network as a backup?
Companies that want to participate in the experiment have until late
February to submit their ideas, with approvals expected to be granted as
early as March -- but don't fear, the tests will only be permitted in
"discrete geographic areas or situations," which is the FCC's way of
politely reminding telecom providers not to get ahead of themselves.