Competitors Keep PACE with Alliance to
By Kim Sunderland
A coalition of CLECs has formed a new group that will focus on ensuring competitive telecom services are delivered to residential subscribers and small businesses through use of the unbundled network element platform
Coalition representatives Genevieve Morelli and Joseph Gillan, recognized authorities on the telecom industry, introduced the Promoting Active Competition Everywhere (PACE) Coalition during an April 26 press conference in Washington, D.C.
“Preliminary results from New York and Texas confirm the promise of UNE-P to bring competition to the average residential consumer and small business,” Morelli says. “The overarching goal of the PACE Coalition is to promote implementation of a working UNE-P arrangement that will allow carriers to serve customers using this method effectively on a national basis.”
UNE-P is defined as the combination of network functions that underlie a customer’s local exchange service. The functions are the loop that connects to the customer, local switching capacity and shared transport, according to PACE documents.
The coalition says UNE-P is important to competition, because an “absolute prerequisite to a fully competitive local market is the customer’s ability to easily change carriers without unnecessary cost or service disruption. Only UNE-P can satisfy this critical condition.”
Morelli explains that the Telecommuni-cations Act of 1996 names three paths of competitive entry into the local market: new network buildout, UNEs–including UNE-P–and resale. While the Telecom Act doesn’t express a preference for one strategy over another, Morelli says UNE-P is the most promising vehicle for broad-based competition for residential and small-business subscribers.
She adds that UNE-P has remained largely a concept until recently, and litigation has kept its implementation stalled, keeping customers from realizing its benefits.
PACE members, including executives from Birch Telecom Inc.
(www.birch.com); Excel Communications Inc. (www.excel.com); Talk.com Inc.
(www.talk.com); Z-Tel Technologies Inc. (www.z-tel.com); and
network intelligence inc. ( www.networkintelligence.com) explained how
UNE-P benefits the public interest and described their companies’ UNE-P business plans, experiences and successes in using
UNE-P to provide local telecom services.
"UNE-P is a critical means of local market entry for many of our member companies, and it is troubling that incumbent local monopolies, for whatever reasons, continue to fail to live up to the letter and spirit of the Telecom Act and recent FCC mandated rules on
UNE-P," says H. Russell Frisby Jr., president of Competitive Telecommunications Association
(www.comptel.org), which represents facilities-based competitors. “We welcome PACE’s efforts as important reinforcement in the national battle to help deliver on the promise of full and fair competition.
“UNE-P provides new competitors the ability to choose and combine essential network elements and apply new technologies to these elements to offer a variety of services that are innovative and functionally richer than the traditional ‘plain vanilla’ menu of local services consumers have been forced to accept from local monopolies,” Frisby adds.