ISPs gearing up for Telecom’s version of the Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS) received a surprise this week when they were told that it would have a monthly data limit of 10GB per user. Furthermore, Telecom says providers cannot offer static IP addresses and nor can they use the word “Jetstream” in their marketing.
Some ISPs privately expressed suprise and disappointment at the data volume and static IP addressing limitations, neither of which had been mentioned by Telecom before this week. However, they are unwilling to speak on the record, citing non-disclosure agreements and fear of being disadvantaged in future business deals with the telco.
UBS is the wholesale DSL that the Commerce Commission favoured in lieu of local loop unbundling. Although the service has not been regulated yet — the Commerce Commission is expected to release the determination early September — Telecom has already started specifying its version and signing up ISPs.
Gerard Linstrom from Telecom Wholesale Services says the UBS was designed with the Jetstream Surf 1GB retail plan as the reference. The charges for the plan were based, Linstrom says, “on an expectation of traffic volume from the DSLAM through to the Unbundled Service Aggregation Point [the first ATM switch] that approximates the traffic flows that we have in our plans.”
The limit is an aggregate of 10GB per month, multiplied by customer numbers. “If a service provider has 500 customers, they have an aggregate traffic volume allowance for UBS of 5000GB of traffic for the month,” Linstrom says.
Giving an example of how a provider could apportion this, Linstrom says it could have 100 customers on a flat-rate 30GB plan pulling approximately 3000GB per month and 150 customers on 7.5GB plans, with the remaining on 3.5GB offerings.
How providers devise the plans will ultimately be their responsibility, he says.
Asked if static IP addresses will be allowed for UBS, Linstrom says the retail reference product is a residential service. "There is no business requirement for such a service to have a static IP address. Telecom's retail service is not promoted as a service that would support applications that typically require a static address so there is a requirement that the UBS would not be promoted as being the solution for such applications.
"The business JetStream services are sold without a static IP address, but one can be purchased as an optional extra at retail. It is likely that ISPs will do something similar with any business offer they construct using UBS," he says.
Telecom’s latest UBS manual specifies the service latency as less than one second, but Linstrom says it “will allow the effective operation of typical internet access applications [such as] web browsing, mail, audio and video streaming as well as file transfers.” The latency will be variable and will not be guaranteed, although it will be on par with retail Jetstream Surf, he says.
If customers want to use applications that require real-time or near-real-time latency, Linstrom says these should be supported on variable bit rate services like frame relay or committed bit rate services such as DDS or ATM.
Providers will not be able to use the word “Jetstream” to promote UBS, as Linstrom says it is "not appropriate nor is it permitted” under the wholesale model.
Auckland provider Orcon is currently advertising flat-rate residential UBS plans, which include a static IP address. Linstrom says Orcon’s promotion of flat-rate plans "is not inconsistent with our business terms, provided the overall traffic volume is below 10GB per user on average.”
As for the static IP addresses and Orcon using “Jetstream” in the adverts, Linstrom says he believes “the advertising referred to the predated release of the [UBS] service schedule from Telecom.”
Orcon managing director Seeby Woodhouse didn't respond to an inquiry from Computerworld yesterday. However, he posted a press release on Orcon's website overnight saying the provider will wear the cost of excess traffic over 10GB a month (understood to be 5c/MB). Customers who signed up in advance for Orcon's UBS plan on the premise that they would receive static IP addresses will get these, Woodhouse promised.
Linking Orcon's UBS promotion to Telecom's changes, Woodhouse said "no other ISPs came out with any other offering and therefore our product was seen as a 'reference' one in the market."