STOCKHOLM (03/16/2000) - In a long-awaited move, Sweden's former monopoly telecommunications carrier Telia AB yesterday opened its local loop network to allow competitors direct access to the copper lines connecting end users.
The opening of the local loop stopped short of allowing alternative service providers to take over the ownership of the lines, but will allow them to lease the lines and therefore have more direct access to their customers.
Telia has already started selling local loop access to prospective service providers, as well as several packaged offerings that will allow alternative operators to offer services, such as ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line), without having to make any investments in the technology, Telia said in a statement.
Although Telia also offers to lease access only to the basic copper line, it is the prospect of offering more advanced and faster Internet services that is expected to attract operators.
"I don't want to speculate about what other companies plan to do, but with broadband being in the spotlight nowadays, I would be surprised if anybody was interested in offering narrowband services," said Lars Joelsson, press officer at Telia Carrier and Networks, a Telia unit that serves as a wholesaler of fixed-network products and services.
The most basic offering allows an alternative operator to lease an existing copper-based local loop connecting an end user to the nearest local Telia exchange, and is priced at 1,500 kronor (US$172) per year, which Telia said is based entirely on actual costs.
But the alternative operators also need to sign up for colocation service, under which they lease space, power and cooling for any equipment installed in the Telia-owned buildings that house the local exchanges. In addition, colocation customers also will get assurance of restricted access to their equipment at the exchanges, Telia said.
Pricing for the colocation service was not available.
Although Telia already is selling access to its local loop network, it is likely that it will take about three months before the first alternative operators can start offering services directly to end users, said Joelsson.
"It is not as simple as just pushing a button," he said.
Operators who sign up for Telia's packaged ADSL service offering, which includes the local loop, get ADSL modems and connections to Telia's ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) backbone network with a guaranteed bandwidth of up to 155M-bps, Telia said.
Telia itself, however, is scheduled to start offering ADSL connections directly to individual users in this year's third quarter, Joelsson said.
With the move to open its local loop network, Telia became one of the few incumbent operators in Europe to have started unbundling the local loop from their networks. Many others are still resisting efforts to speed the opening of their networks. [See "EU Telecoms Divided over Local Loop Unbundling," Feb.
In the U.K., for example, a mandated unbundling of the local loop network is not expected to be completed before the July 2001 deadline set by the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the country's telecommunications regulator. [See "U.K.'s Oftel: Unbundling of Loop Can't Go Faster," March 15.]Telia, in Stockholm, can be reached via the Web at http://www.telia.com/.