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Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:48

Comms Alliance defines first NBN wholesale services

Communications Alliance has released a paper proposing a definition for wholesale ethernet services to be provided by the National Broadband Network and other broadband infrastructures.

Comms Alliance says the paper, NBN Wholesale Service Definition Framework – Ethernet,  is intended to provide highly-detailed input to assist decision-making on the National Broadband Network by scoping options for a layer 2 ethernet services. "The service description also provides a useful framework for service providers to consider the issues associated with integrating NBN services into their own operations and delivering those services to customers."
The Framework has been developed as part of the Communications Alliance NBN Project by its Wholesale Services working group and follows the release of the National Broadband Network Reference Architecture last month. Comms Alliance says it will form the foundation block for further work around the provision of voice, data and video services.

According to Communications Alliance CEO Anne Hurley, the paper takes industry input to a new level of detail. "Ensuring the NBN delivers wholesale services with the features and functionality required by service providers will be critical to its success. This paper is the first step in defining those requirements from a technical perspective and we will be expanding these definitions to include other aspects of wholesale services in coming months."

The paper defines three types of ethernet service which, it says should as far as possible be deliverable across all access technologies, not just the FTTH network. These are an Ethernet Line Backhaul Service (ELBS), an Ethernet Line Access Service (ELAS) and ethernet multicast for the efficient delivery of multicast from a point of interconnect to end - user premises.

The access service is defined to operate between the ONT - the device in the consumer's premises that terminates the fibre - and an interconnect point in either the local exchange or regional, state or national aggregation points.

The backhaul service would be used to provide connectivity from the local exchange, seen as the default interconnect point for an ethernet access service - to a more highly aggregated interconnect point. The access and backhaul services could be provided by the same or different service providers.

The paper makes a start on addresses some of the very complex issues that will need to be resolved when multiple services from multiple providers are delivered over the same, shared, physical infrastructure.

It points out that, in any scenario where shared physical infrastructure is involved, there is the potential for fault conditions to arise which affect one or more 'wholesale service acquirers' (eg providers of services to end users) and that it is also possible for mis-configuration by one wholesale service acquirers to affect others. "From the end-user point of view it may not be clear which WSA is responsible for repairing any shared infrastructure."

The paper also envisages the situation where the underlying network supports end user services on different devices each associated with a different provider. "Capabilities to allow a device to be associated with a particular access service need to be provided over the shared medium."

The paper points out that this is typically not the case with today's consumer premises equipment (particularly in the consumer market) and says industry development would be needed to come up with workable solutions.

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