Network Access Panel Addresses Carriers Alternatives

The loss of UNE-P as a result of the FCC TRRO and the deployment of advanced IP-based services make finding alternative network access more important than ever before. Sue Platner, president of telecom consulting company, The Northridge Group, will moderate todays session Network Access: Where Do We Go From Here?, which will analyze options available now for CLECs and other carriers, as well as the alternatives under development.

Other slated panelists include Richard Makaras, senior product manager of wireless for PowerNet Global Communications; Thomas Sumbler, vice president of business development for OnFiber Communications Inc.; and Mike Hurley, vice president of sales and marketing for Fibertech Networks.

Some opportunities carriers can look to for alternative access are best summed up in two words: softswitch and broadband, Platner says. There are multiple aspects to finding alternative network access the connection to the end user and provision of the service itself (dialtone and features), she says. [Softswitches] are now commercially available that can be scaled to the service providers needs (both in cost and capacity), which reduces the price for entry to a facilities-based model from a resale type service like UNE-P.

Platner adds that because softswitch technology allows voice to be carried over an existing broadband connection, carriers can avoid the cost of a separate voice loop as well as the accompanying infrastructure costs.

Other promising technologies for carriers include Wi-Fi.

The panel also will discuss some of the issues carriers are most concerned about, including how to maintain profitability under higher wholesale costs.

Service providers who target consumers have the greatest challenge, because there are limited options: go the Vonage route offer voice over IP to customers who have broadband or stay with UNE-P at much higher costs, Platner adds, who predicts providers will continue to consolidate to achieve economies of scale.

The Network Access panel also will address the ongoing regulatory rollercoaster, including issues surrounding intercarrier compensation, funding of universal service. [S]ervice providers should be cautious in assuming that VoIP-provided services will be exempt from the traditional subsidies, Platner warns.

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