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AT&T's superfast fiber network could have a disastrous downside

AT&T's superfast fiber network could have a disastrous downside
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Presidents and first-responders need to have quick access and top priority to the telephone lines in a crisis. A new AT&T proposal would strip that priority away, and may end up endangering people, too.

AT&T is switching its network from old copper lines to high-speed fiber optics. In doing so, each telephone call will be treated like data, which would enable new technologies, such as hi-def voice and video calls and enhanced 911.

But in doing so, the company wants to drop priority service for a special service called GETS, the Government Emergency Telecommunications Service. It allows the president or any high-level official with a special PIN to dial a special number and get priority service, even if phone traffic is at a standstill. About one-tenth of one percent of people in the U.S. have access to the system.

AT&T wants to leave behind responsibility for linking GETS calls, which would force the priority calls to compete with other local calls in a crisis.

"All the Internet knows how to do is pass things from point A to point B," said Jason Healey, a security expert and a former George W. Bush administration official. "So if there's a denial-of-service attack, and VoIP was significantly throttled back, the Internet itself would not know that this is the president's VoIP call trying to get through."

Don't go out without your own personal protection, such as automatic 911 dialing in an emergency. Here are 4 apps for better personal safety.

Source: Washington Post
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