Service Provider Panelists Look at CLECs in a World Without UNE

Facing regulatory mandates restricting the availability of UNEs, service providers have a number of access options to evaluate for line migration and growth. A panel of service providers Tuesday will discuss whats available and when to use them.

Panelists will take a look at the subject one layer of the OSI model at a time, starting with Layer 1 access. Mike Miller, president and CEO of FiberLight, will discuss fiber as a replacement for UNE-L, fiber-wireless interfaces, fiber aggregation and ways to divide fiber into gigabit pipes.

Many customers are replacing UNE with special access rates under separate contract to avoid having to install facility-based applications, said Miller, noting the cost of building and installing physical locations in each CO often is prohibitive. If you can cut the cost of the backbone to cover the traffic, then the cost to install becomes more justified. By using this fiber in a pay-as-you-grow plan, companies can start migrating from special access in high-density COs sooner and become less dependent on the BOC.

Miller will discuss options to install fiber and pay on a capacity basis. He also will talk about installing customers in tandem locations and providing fiber to a carrier hotel or node to cut the costs of transport in a metro environment. He will touch on something he calls a hybrid fiber wireless interface for point-to-point and multipoint deployments of PCS or WiMAX as alternatives to UNE and special access pricing.

David Malfara, Sr., president and CEO of Remi Communications, will take the discussion up the stack to Layers 2 and 3. We need to make efficient and effective use of all available access methods and use Layer 2/Layer 3 technology (MPLS, VPLS, HVPLS, 802.1Q VLANs, VLAN stacking, prioritization, etc.) as a way to accomplish that goal, said Malfara.

Bottom line: the business model is changing again. Economic realities require carriers to make more efficient and effective use of first-mile access facilities. We, as carriers, can ill-afford to ignore any method of available access to our customer, but the efficiency and effectiveness of use of those access methods needs to improve. Layer 2 aggregation technology is where this happens.

Ernie Ortega, president of carrier services for XO Communications, also will talk to Layer 3 and replacements for UNE-P contracts, which were phased out earlier this month. He will talk about alternative access services offered by wholesalers to UNE-P resellers that are moving to their own or partitioned switching facilities.

The panel will wrap up their discussion by questioning the premise of the panel whether its necessary to avoid UNEs altogether. There are a number of ways to reach the customer, said Malfara, noting these may include wireless, fiber, Ethernet over copper or even UNE loops. With one customer, we may use four different [methods]. Whats critical is aggregating them into a metro area network.

The bigger challenge for providers is normalizing service delivery across all access types.

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