Local exchange carriers seek accord with access providers
Fred A. Joyce
Some of the major local exchange carriers have adjusted their competitive telecommunications policies and are now willing to work with the competitive access providers in the same service areas. In some instances, they were forced to compete by state regulatory edicts, whereas other local exchange carriers complied because market studies indicate that open competition is needed to spur deeper deployment of fiber into the local loop.
Therefore, a new breed of telephone service providers is emerging. These providers operate as more than fiber-based alternate-access, private-line carriers; they function as CAPs, as well as competitive local exchange carriers. Should they achieve "co-carrier" status in the state and federal regulatory arenas, these CAPs could compete with the local exchange carriers on equal footing.
Says Royce Holland, president at Omaha, NB-based MFS Communications Co., a leading CAP, "The local loop is a strategic asset, a key asset. You can`t aggregate on the local loop; that`s what makes it so valuable; you must have your own facilities."
A major local exchange carrier, Nynex Corp., has devised a pro-competitive philosophy regarding working with CAPs and other telephone carriers in the New York State telecommunications arena. Currently, Nynex is one of a few local exchange carriers that has opened up the local loop for competition in switching telephony traffic. In fact, during the past few years, the New York Public Service Commission has required the local exchange carrier to unbundle its local services.
During the past year, opening up local loop competition has caused a flurry of telecommunications activity in the state of New York. For example, Time Warner Communications plans to deploy a fiber network in the New York City market and elsewhere throughout the state.
"Nynex has many competitive thrusts. The company wants to be a vigorous competitor," says Don Evans, Nynex vice president for federal regulatory matters. "Nynex is not trying to thwart off competitors; it has [allowed physical] co-location with CAPs," he adds. Fiber has been deployed beyond the company`s central offices to concentrations of both business and residential customers, he says.
Another leading local exchange carrier agrees. "Ameritech is willing to cooperate with the CAPs to provide necessary services, and for the mutual benefit of both," says Ameritech`s information industry services general manager, Ray Thomas in Chicago. This new division of Ameritech Corp. has been working with CAPs and other carriers to provide fiber-based virtual co-location to the local exchange carrier`s central offices.
Ameritech has also developed a pro-competition stance with the fiber-based CAPs operating in its Chicago area. The local exchange carrier provides a full array of services to the CAPs, including Sonet rings and access services, according to Thomas. The company plans to unbundle switching services and other network components in the future, if the local exchange carrier`s so-called "Customer First" plan is approved by federal and state regulators.