Videophones may soon become a reality for Americans, The New York Times reports.
The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that the agency will begin a "diverse set of experiments" to move the nation's telephone system from one that uses analog technology to a new one that is Internet-based.
The benefits of technology upgrades include cost savings, the ability to transfer more data at once, and increased opportunities for expansion.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog post Tuesday that he expects the commission to vote on an order to begin planning the transition in January.
"This is what I have called the Fourth Network Revolution, and it is a good thing," Wheeler wrote in the blog post. "History has shown that new networks catalyze innovation, investment, ideas, and ingenuity. Their spillover effects can transform society — think of the creation of industrial organizations and the standardized time zones that followed in the wake of the railroad and telegraph."
Although wireless carriers and consumer groups agree that the century-old technology needs updating, consumer advocates also expressed concern. Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge, warned that the FCC does not wield the same authority over the Internet as it does over the telephone system, according to The New York Times report. He also said that carriers using IP might not be subject to the same rules that ensure Americans have universal access to telephone service.