Bitstream service levels unclear

Questions are being asked about just what the Telecommunications Commissioner has recommended to the government in the form of bitstream access.

Questions are being asked about just what the Telecommunications Commissioner has recommended to the government in the form of bitstream access.

Commissioner Douglas Webb has rejected the call for unbundling of the local loop and proposed a redefining of the existing wholesale regime, however technical specifications of the service are light on the ground.

While most of the industry is still grappling with the fine print in the report, and its appendices, one industry player questioned the lack of definition.

"Does this mean we get to offer layer 2 switching so we can control the connection to the customer? Who knows?" says a source at the company, which did not want to be identified.

The commissioner's report defines the connection as: "An Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line enabled service (and its associated functions including the associated functions of Telecom’s operational support systems) that enables access to, and interconnection with, that part of Telecom’s fixed PDN that connects the end-user’s building ... to Telecom’s first Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) data switch or equivalent facility other than a Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM)".

The service itself must run at speeds of more than 256Kbit/s download and less than 128Kbit/s upload. Beyond that, however, the service is defined rather by what it must not do than by what it can.

"This service is not required to support any function that relies on real time network capability; and ... the access provider is only required to provide access to the trunk side of Telecom’s first ATM data switch or equivalent facility".

The report's appendix does go into more detail but only to suggest common standards for DSL services, like Telecom's JetStream.

"The functionality typically includes the following:

  • ‘always on’ network connection;

  • static or dynamic IP addressing;

  • web browsing with occasional large file download, web based e-mail and gaming;

  • client/server e-mail functionality;

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP), newsgroup server access etc;

  • peer to peer file sharing applications, subject to speed limitations at peak times;

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) access, remote Local Area Network, Citrix and terminal services, remote desktop applications, subject to speed limitations at peak times; and

  • audio and video streaming, subject to speed limitations at peak times."
The report specifically excludes video conferencing capability, voice over IP (VoIP) and "other real time multimedia services, including TV, Video on Demand".

The appendix does include a service level guarantee that Telecom would be expected to provide, but in no great detail. This includes:

"Latency or average network response time; mean and maximum time to repair; and provisioning, maintenance and repair reporting".

"This service supports a set of applications intended for home and small enterprise use. In general, it is a high speed IP access service which provides good performance, but could not typically support extensive use of mission critical applications which require excellent real-time network performance or availability" says the report.

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