Telecom to restart IP interconnection talks

TelstraClear dubious about Telecom's interconnection model

Telecom is signalling a restart to interconnection talks ahead of a planned December 2011 launch for IP interconnection charging.

After a pause at the end of last year to establish a clearer scope and timetable for an IP interconnection regime, Telecom Wholesale says it is ready to enter into further dialogue.

However, TelstraClear is not so optimistic.

“As far as we’re aware, industry discussions are still on hold,” says spokesman Chris Mirams. The hiatus was “a collective industry decision”, he says, declining to elaborate.

Commitment to an IP interconnect negotiations was part of Telecom’s separation undertakings. One of government’s priorities in requiring such a commitment is to ensure a firm footing for nationwide virtual private networks in such sectors as health, with a consistent level of service and pricing.

The regime of interconnection with other providers established by Telecom, with 29 points of interconnect (POIs) throughout the country, is the model Telecom proposes for the IP-oriented interconnection regime for voice and data as it cuts over to the next-generation network (NGN).

This “regional-centre” proposal will mean a smoother pricing structure for interconnection between Telecom’s network and those of other providers, with essentially free interconnect within large regions, says Stuart Goodin, Telecom Wholesale’s manager of regulatory and internet relations. It means a balance between approximate “peers”, he says.

The concern with all interconnection regimes is that one party might be getting more benefit than the other out of a free interchange of data. If a provider with a limited market area connects with Telecom, it gets a nationwide potential customer base while Telecom only gets access to the other party’s much smaller number of customers.

Division into regions establishes the two parties on more of an even footing, Goodin says.

Local internet peering is now available as a product from Telecom Wholesale and some providers are considering use of the service, but Goodin and colleague Gerard Linstrom, manager of industry consultation, declined last week to name any of these without seeking their permission first.

The hold-up in the broader IP interconnect discussion, Goodin says, was chiefly because Telecom saw itself as expending resources on a process that “seemed to be quite large and not clear in scope”. Now a firm roadmap has been laid out, the company can resume its key role in the consultations, which are being conducted under the auspices of the Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum (TCF).

The Telecom scheme is “just a model” for the way IP interconnection on the voice and broader data network might work as far as TelstraClear is concerned, Mirams says. He declines to say if TelstraClear is interested in participating in the more narrowly focussed internet peering scheme.

If Telecom is not willing to name any prospects for internet peering it’s not a positive sign, Mirams says. If there were any serious prospects Telecom would have sought permission to publish their names already and be shouting from the rooftops, he says.

Telecom’s promotional sheet for internet “local peering” positions it as a service “for ISPs, content providers, MUSH (Municipal, Universities, Schools and Hospitals) network operators and other wholesale customers who wish to exchange data”.

The region-based interconnection regime merely fixes the property rights of the parties, says Goodin. Beyond that the settling of charges will depend on the working of competition within that framework, including negotiation of appropriate charges or cost-sharing arrangements for conveying the originator’s traffic to the local POI.

By the end of this year there will be about 17,000 customers on the nascent NGN, Goodin says.

The roadmap plans for this to grow to take over completely from the analogue public-switched telephone network (PSTN) by the end of 2020.

TCF head David Stone had not returned calls by Computerworld’s deadline.

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Tags peeringtelecomTelstraClearNetworking & Telecomms IDip interconnection

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