Unconstrained DSL by September

Telecom's new wholesale regime begins to take shape

Telecom is promising to deliver fully unrestricted broadband wholesale services from as early as September.

A commercial unbundled bitstream service (CUBS), with unrestricted upstream as well as downstream speeds, is one of the outcomes from industry working group meetings, Telecom and service providers say.

Although Telecom’s proposal was initially met with scepticism by the industry, service providers are now enthusiastic about the proposals put forward by the “New Telecom”, says Scott Bartlett, Orcon’s operations and regulatory general manager.

Telecom’s head of wholesale marketing, Chris Dyhrberg, says he realises Telecom still has a long way to go before gaining customers’ confidence, but says industry reception has been very positive.

The first result from the working group meetings is two new UBS products: the first one is the Commerce Commission’s Regulated UBS (RUBS), which, while having an unconstrained downstream speed, is limited to 128kbit/s for uploads. It was sought by Callplus and Ihug, and will cost $28.04 per month, per line wholesale.

However, a commercial service, with unconstrained upstream speed, will also be made available in the same time-frame. Bartlett expects this will cost more, based on the existing retail-minus formula employed by the regulator.

Essentially, the two UBS products will be the same as the existing service, Dyhrberg says, but with faster speed profiles. This means they will be delivered as Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol (L2TP) services, not Layer 3, and have ATM backhaul. The existing service has been criticised for not delivering the speeds advertised. Telecom is upgrading its access systems to Ethernet-based ones with greater backhaul capacity.

Although the government and the Commission have both said RUBS should be delivered as “naked DSL”, Dyhrberg says the voice component will still have to be bought from Telecom.

While Telecom aims to deliver the new services late in September, Dyhrberg says there are technical issues to be resolved. One of these, spectrum management of the DSL signal, is not as big a problem as was earlier thought. Telecom plans to install an interim spectrum management plan while it waits for the official one from the Commerce Commission.

Bartlett says service providers are keen but need to know the price of the new services and what will happen to existing UBS products. Dyhrberg says Telecom is still working on these issues and hopes to have an answer soon.

Telecom will also make available Unbundled Network Services (UNS). These are essentially data tails for its OneOffice product. Dyhrberg says this will allow providers to create OneOffice-like products. However, he says, providers have also expressed interest in a bitstream service that’s cheaper than UNS but still capable of supporting real-time applications.

ADSL2+ is also on the cards for providers, as the Commerce Commission’s determination is “technology-agnostic”, Dyhrberg says. Telecom has started technology trials of ADSL2+ with customers living within 1.5km of the Pakuranga exchange in east Auckland.

The limited trial will include hosted content, such as high-definition movies, to see if the service can reach the promised 24Mbit/s.

Local loop unbundling and naked DSL are also being discussed.

Dyhrberg says, he is disappointed with recent reports about Telecom’s roadside cabinets not having enough space for rivals’ gear. Telecom is looking at ways to implement LLU despite these hurdles, he says.

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