AT&T and Verizon want to make landlines a thing of the past

Two of the biggest telecoms in the US, AT&T and Verizon, are on a mission to make landlines nothing more than a footnote in the history of telecommunication. One state at a time, the two companies are lobbying for permission to replace POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system — with Internet-based systems that use the same wired and wireless broadband networks that we use for cable programming and accessing the web.

Telecom giants AT&T T +0.31% and Verizon Communications VZ -0.57% are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS–the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate “carrier of last resort” mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.)

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