ViewsLetter(SM) on Provisioning

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ViewsLetter on Provisioning         15 Sept 2003        #29
A fortnightly look at provisioning automation.


    William A. Flanagan, Editor and Publisher

The Federal Communications Commission's recent Order regarding unbundled network
elements (UNEs) that incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) must make
available to other carriers looks like a setback for automated provisioning. 
Almost all rights to the outside plant, or local loops, will soon be in the
hands of the ILECs, the service providers with the least incentive to innovate
or deploy new broadband technology.  A slowdown in deployment of DSL and other
broadband technology seems likely.  Here's why.

Since divestiture in 1982, ILECs have resisted being considered common carriers.
 Their control of the (inherited) outside plant and local loops came to be
considered a proprietary right, ignoring the fact that it was paid for by
subscribers under regulations that guaranteed The Phone Company a profit, at no
risk, regardless of what it did--as long as it stuck to the telephone business. 
Now that "right to control" is being extended by the FCC to:
-- any new infrastructure for data and Internet access businesses;
-- all aspects of the copper loop except basic voice capabilities. 

That is, if an ILEC deploys new DSL or optical equipment and lines for data, it
doesn't have to make those facilities available for rent to another "requesting
carrier."  The right to share the high-frequency bandwidth of copper
loops--above POTS frequencies--effectively goes away within three years after
the FCC's Order becomes effective because by then that access will cost the same
as a separate copper pair.

Competitive carriers installing a new DSL customer will have to pay for a
separate loop out of the central office.  Spare copper may not be available. 
While sharing a loop is required in some jurisdictions, the ILEC can avoid
sharing with another carrier if it can convince the state regulator that the
line can't be "conditioned" (cleaned up of taps and coils so the line passes
high-frequency DSL signals) or conditioning would impair its voice service.   
Many a chance for a slip twixt the order and the installation.

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"Flanagan Consulting" and "ViewsLetter" are Service Marks of W. A. Flanagan, Inc.
 Updated: 17 July 2004 2003

Flanagan ConsultingSM
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