Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS) is once again available, in its promised tunnelled Layer 2 form which offers ISPs greater control over the wholesale DSL service. Although set to launch on September 29, the service was put on hold after Telecom discovered a router software bug that reset the speed attributes of all DSL services (not just UBS) to 256kbit/s downstream.
This time around, Telecom is confident that the service is robust and thus it is available again from Monday this week, says Martin Butler, Telecom’s manager of strategy and planning at its Wholesale Group.
Currently, the service is being rolled out to Orcon and Ihug on a trial basis. After that, UBS will be provisioned to other ISPs in the queue, at the rate of one per week.
Asked why UBS is being deployed like this, Butler says the constraint is with the limited number of people who can do and test the actual provisioning of the service. Butler confirms that problems with one ISPs roll-out could delay provisioning for the next one in the queue. He stresses that the UBS provisioning is going smoothly currently, so further delays are not expected.
Butler says he has “limited empathy” for ISPs having to queue up for UBS being provisioned to them, but says it is a practical operational limitation that cannot be worked around.
While the tunnelled Layer 2 UBS was being mended, Telecom offered a straight Layer 3 clone of its Jetstream DSL as solution, This interim UBS (iUBS) will be phased out as the L2TP UBS is being deployed.
As signalled earlier, Telecom is now considering skipping the 512kbit/s speed-step scheduled for March, and going straight to 1Mbit/s instead. The upstream speed is however still fixed at a low 128kbit/s, as per the amended Telecommunications Act of 2001.
Quizzed if Telecom would meet providers’ demands for a higher quality service with service level agreements and committed information rates, Butler says that Telecom would not voluntarily do so currently. Last week, TelstraClear filed an application with the Commerce Commission for a determination for a regulated UBS. Included in TelstraClear’s application is a request for the UBS specification to be clarified and more detail provided; and that Telecom supplies any downstream bandwidth that is technically possible.
Telecom’s controversial “churn fee” of $100, charged when a customer moves from one UBS ISP to another, will stay, says Butler. The idea is that the “churn fee” will be a disincentive for ISPs to target competitors’ existing broadband customers. However, customers switching plans with the same ISP will not be subject to the churn fee. Nor will customers with a provider that fails or is taken over be hit with the fee says Butler.