Why Not?

Posted: 11/1997

Why Not?

Call me a dreamer, but I’m stilling waiting for some crazy
all-distance carrier to take advantage of network
architecture–not just new technology–and change the way things
are done in the public network space.

Here’s an example. I routinely am told by the smart guys in
the switching world that today’s state-of-the-art switches can
handle traffic from 300 miles away. We also know it is possible
to build extensive optical fiber networks to collect, groom and
backhaul traffic. So I keep wondering why somebody couldn’t put a
switch in Bakersfield, Calif., and switch traffic back and forth
from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A carrier would need to figure out its backhaul costs and
enter into extensive interconnection and unbundled network
element agreements, but–assuming regulators don’t get in the
way–why couldn’t a carrier offer an extended local calling area
to its customers?

Here’s the idea: For a flat monthly fee, a customer in either
the Bay Area or Southern California could make flat-rate calls
within an expanded local calling area that includes all of the
Southland and Bay areas.

It really is no more radical than making all of Long Island,
N.Y., a single local calling area, is it? I don’t know about you,
but I couldn’t quantify the cost of adding one more 64-kbps
bitstream on a route that’s about 70 percent utilized to a SONET
network operator.

Granted, our regulatory mindset is conditioned by a
decade-and-a-half of mental baggage created by the AT&T
divestiture. But, I’m not sure we can honestly say anymore that
it costs a vastly different amount to carry a call 30 miles or
3,000 miles.

I don’t think where a local call is switched makes a
difference to a carrier, as long as the backhaul facilities are
in place and used for other reasons. Obviously, the trade-off is
in loss of in-state long distance, but a competitive local
exchange carrier (CLEC) might be willing to trade some of that
revenue for a higher market share in the local business.

Cellular telephone service always has been regulated
differently than wireline services, but AT&T Wireless, for
example, offers a "home calling area" that stretches
across nine western states, two of which are Hawaii and Alaska.
It’s the same idea. Some enterprising all-distance carrier ought
to take a serious look at this.

Until Next Time,
Gary Kim

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