FryUp: Early Easter Unbundle

Top Stories: - Boy, the week went by so fast - Unbundling the local loop

Top Stories:

- Boy, the week went by so fast

- Unbundling the local loop

- Boy, the week went by so fast

It seems like yesterday that I was sending out the last FryUp. Wait, it was! Darn these short weeks. Darn them like socks.

Since you're not going to be there tomorrow (hopefully) and neither am I (definitely) and probably the same thing will happen next week, the Friday FryUp has become the Thursday something or other. Ideas on a postcard please.

Normal regularly scheduled service will resume the week after. Unless we all like getting the week's wrap-up a day early of course. Or I'm late sending the copy through. Or the technology lets us down. As I said, the normal service.

- Unbundling the local loop

It sounds a bit like one of those marketing-speak phrases I collect - "leveraging the enterprise paradigm" has been a favourite for years, only recently supplanted by "substantiate the proposition".

Unbundling, though, is that funny old game that is played where you don't quite re-nationalise a service that you shouldn't have sold in the first place.

Telecom owns the local loop - that enormous length of copper line that connects your telephone ("you there?") to the exchange and from there to the world at large.

Years ago we owned it but we hired a bunch of plonkers to run things who decided it would be fun if we sold everything - this would free them up no end to do other things like "govern". Such is life.

Now we're kind of stuck because Telecom, being a business, wants to make money out of the local loop (what a surprise) and it seems to be caught on the idea that to do that it has to deny access to the loop to any old telco that comes along unless they play ball.

What does playing ball mean? Well, under the current wholesale regime, other telcos can only resell a service that Telecom currently sells. So if Telecom doesn't want to introduce a symmetrical high-speed internet access service, nobody else can use Telecom's network to do just that.

And so it is that governments around the world have moved to a model called unbundling (ULL), which basically means the incumbent is forced to allow other telcos to connect to the network at a wholesale rate set by a regulatory body.

Of course, unbundling assumes one very important point: that the local loop network is the only ubiquitous network in the land and that services run on it are the only way of getting broadband to the masses.

This is rapidly becoming untrue in New Zealand. The government is sponsoring new network development in the regions, Project Probe, and by doing so is helping to build an alternative network, albeit a wireless one.

Telecom has argued that unbundling is no longer necessary - and if it is then only in the areas that currently don't have competition. I can see its point - if you compare the local loop with the mobile market, you'll see what I mean. In the mobile space you have two equally sized networks with competition and decreasing prices. The end user is benefiting from competition in the mobile space on a regular basis. That's not quite the way it's working on the local loop side of things, is it?

The telecommunications commissioner will plough his way through a likely dozens of submissions running to thousands of pages to decide what is and isn't going to make a difference in New Zealand in the long term. I think we'll end up with some hybrid form of unbundling that combines it with wholesale. That's a good thing because it will mean companies can compete with the same product, compete with different products and can offer their own products. And in the end, if there are dozens of other networks on offer, it'll only benefit the likes of you and me.

Unbundling inevitable says TUANZ chief - Computerworld Online

Unbundling a solution for the last century, says Telecom - Computerworld Online

Telecom's battle of the loop - NZ Herald

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