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ISPA Talks Next Generation Networks
By: MarkJ - 13 April, 2005 (12:39 PM)

The UK Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) has today begun highlight its members concern over the competition implications that Next Generation Networks (NGNs) will have:

Industry regulator Ofcom is conducting a consultation into ‘Next Generation Networks - Future arrangements for access and interconnection’, and is due to report back in the coming weeks.

The introduction of BT’s Next Generation Network, known as 21CN, will help to deliver Broadband Britain. NGNs are integral to the success of Broadband Britain by enabling end users to take advantage of new and innovative services. However, innovation demands a competitive environment.

NGNs deliver convergence between the traditional world of public switched telephone networks and the new world of data networks. Whilst it may cause significant upheaval, ISPA agrees with Ofcom that the move to 21CN should be viewed as creating the first ever opportunity to ensure that access and interconnection to an incumbent’s network supports competition from the outset.

Equality of access to 21CN should help to achieve a more competitive market. BT must treat all customers in exactly the same way irrespective of whether the customer is an external customer or an internal BT customer. Equivalence of product, process and price for Service Providers should not be an aim but a minimum requirement for NGNs.

Barriers to achieving equivalence of inputs to 21CN such as security, standards, supports and scale are surmountable given time and appropriate regulatory guidance and vigilance. A system of flexible regulation that can be focused on key bottlenecks and rolled back in other areas would grow a competitive industry and drive innovation. ISPA believes that areas of regulation should be constantly monitored and evaluated, and ultimately withdrawn when appropriate.

Mrs Hendrie-Liaño, Chair of ISPA Council said, “ISPs have made significant investments based on the current access and interconnection arrangements, so many will lose out in the short term. But ultimately competitive Next Generation Networks are likely to benefit all providers and customers.

ISPA believes Ofcom’s role should be to ensure that there is clarity to the regulatory principles and policies necessary to support effective competition with the introduction of NGN services. A competitive industry is a healthy industry, and one we must strive to achieve.

To cut a long story short, the ISPA is worried that BT may not play fair.

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