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The opportunity for CLECs, Part 1

Jul 12, 20042 mins

* History of the problem for CLECs

Last week’s newsletter “The sad, sad song of MCI and AT&T” brought us some expected e-mail from our readers. While some readers got a smile out of our poetry, others said they were not so happy with the situation.

For example, one loyal reader wrote:

“I am a 26-year employee with AT&T and have watched the political garbage very closely since 1996. I wonder how you would feel if the rules that you use to run your business were changed in mid-stream? If a monopoly was so bad in 1982, why is it okay now? And the thing that will make this more interesting is that the regulatory bodies have more responsibilities. I agree that there are competing technologies to wire-line communications, but when the monopolists are allowed to own significant pieces of everything, where is the benefit to the end user?”

To our distressed reader, we reply: Have hope. The future is bright for all.

For our readers unfamiliar with the issues, here’s a brief history. Back in 1984 when Judge Harold Greene broke up AT&T (a.k.a. the Bell System) he and others envisioned competitive markets for local and long distance. But before the local “Baby Bells” could enter the long-distance market, they were required to open their central offices and local loop to their competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC).

After much legal wrangling concurrent with an evolving infrastructure (including the introduction of DSL, which also had to be accommodated as a competitive service) the parties finally agreed on terminology and the technical approach. The unbundled network element-platform, or UNE-P, was born. The UNE-P consists of the unbundled network element-port (also, confusingly referred to as a UNE-P) and the unbundled network element-loop (UNE-L).

More on this next time.