Competition will never come IN the local loop, it can come only TO the local loop.
OK, gentle readers, here’s all you need to know about US telecom policy in 3 paragraphs. Note that a telephone network is comprised of 3 elements: transport (aka backhaul), switching (the big switches at the Central Office), and access (the copper wires that come to your house). First the memorandum of Final Judgment (MFJ), 1984, broke up the Bell System. What consumers got out of it was real competition in long distance. Long distance rates went down as a result.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was supposed to open switching and access to competition. It supposedly forced the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) to lease space on their network assets to competitors. The competitors didn’t have to buy or build much, they just resold the RBOCs services. Those provisions in the act (called UNE-P for unbundled network elements-platform) expired recently putting many CLECs out of business. A new provision UNE-L (for loop) forces the RBOCs requires the RBOCS to lease the copper wires to CLECs who int turn must deliver services over that copper wire using their own switching gear. The danger to the CLECs is that the gear is very expensive and there is no long term guarantee on UNE-L. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 did bring some competition in business markets (T1 plus) but did nothing for residential markets.
If ours or any other society really wants competition in telephone services (which INEVITABLY contributes to economic development), then there must exist multiple avenues to telecommunications networks to foment competition. That occurs partially with cable TV telephony and cellular networks. Real relief for consumers and businesses is on the horizon with 3G and 4G solutions using VoIP. VoIP, because it can run on a multiplicity of communications access technologies (copper, coax, and wireless) is the enabler to bringing real competition to the local loop for the benefit of the common good.
Frank Ohrtman has many years experience in VoIP and wireless applications. Mr. Ohrtman learned to perform in-depth research and write succinct analyses during his years as a Navy Intelligence Officer (1981-1991) where he specialized in electronic intelligence and electronic warfare. He is a veteran of U.S. Navy actions in Lebanon (awarded Navy Expeditionary Medal), Grenada, Libya (awarded Joint Service Commendation Medal) and the Gulf War (awarded National Defense Service Medal).
His career in VoIP began with selling VoIP gateway switches for Netrix Corporation to long distance bypass carriers. He went on to promote softswitch solutions for Lucent Technologies (Qwest Account Manager) and Vsys (Western Region Sales Manager). Mr. Ohrtman is the author of Softswitch: Architecture for Voice over IP, a number one bestseller on USTA Bookstore’s bestseller list, Wi-Fi Handbook: Building 802.11b Wireless Networks, and Voice over 802.11. He holds a Master of Science degree in Telecommunications from Colorado University College of Engineering (master’s thesis: “Softswitch As Class 4 Replacement—A Disruptive Technology”), a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Boston University and a BA, Political Science from University of Iowa. Mr. Ohrtman lives in Denver, CO where he is the president of Softswitch Consulting (http://www.softswitchconsulting.com) 720-839-4063.