Unbundled fibre is coming, by 2020 it will be available for use by retail service providers. What that means for end users is uncertain, in fact what it means for telcos is uncertain, but key details are starting to emerge.

Chorus recently released their product roadmap and technical document for this product, and while all the detail is up for discussion during the consultation period, it held some interesting points.

Service provided to deploy ISP supplied ONTs and splitters

“Chorus propose that an unbundler would supply a splitter (that Chorus would install at the FFP), and an ONT (that Chorus would install at the end customer premises).” –Chorus Technical Document Layer 1 Unbundling_September 2018 final – section 2.2.

Under the proposed model, the unbundled provider would not need to leverage its own resources to enable on site installs, in fact it may not even be an option. This means two key things:

  1. The playing field is fairly even in terms of viable access to the product
  2. Chorus have found a non-regulated income stream through the professional services required for installation
  3. Potential for Chorus to offer guidance on ONT and splitter models making the testing/deployment process faster and more cost effective

Designs mooted by big telcos look to be discounted at this stage

Chorus provided a note within Appendix A of their technical document stating that while submissions had been received by RSPs suggesting wavelength unbundling (splitting existing fibre into different frequencies) and virtual unbundling (ability to share slices of the network at the exchange), these were not considered because:

  • They are emerging, or recent, technologies and therefore were never listed as a requirement in the agreement signed between the Crown and Chorus 10 years ago.
  • Short timelines until deployment mean that well established technologies which the network was built to support demand priority.

A final point 

Due to customer density per FFP (splitter cabinet) being fairly low (between 48 and 256), and the number of FFPs exceeding 19,000, the unbundled product is likely a better fit for residential providers, but of course a by-product of deploying unbundled services based on residential demand will be the ability to offer business services over the same infrastructure. For business focused ISP’s the best fit will be CBD areas and FFPs servicing business parks. Huge caveat on this – we still don’t know how the pricing looks.

Updated 23/10/2018

I spoke with Chorus today and looks like current thinking is that the splitter for the FFP will be provided and installed by them, and Chorus will not provide an ONT, but will install 3rd party ONTs on request.

Things are very fluid at the moment, but current thinking detailed in below diagram.

Brendan Ritchie

Brendan Ritchie

Author Brendan Ritchie

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • > Short timelines until deployment mean that well established technologies which the network was built to support demand priority.

    The second fibre tail is a limited solution, is disruptive to existing FFP infrastructure requiring truck roll and intrusion into the last mile. The wavelength option is “off the shelf*,” has been trialled successfully, and doesn’t require the network to be built a particular way to support it. It doesn’t encourage cherry picking, we know how to do exclusive rights in spectrum (cable or free space). To refuse to consider such an improved selection based on costs sunk a decade ago and contract compliance purity is short-sighted, and self-serving.

    Eventually, vertical integration provides no stove-pipe margin worth the struggle to cope with the rate of change within each layer. Each layer is a full-time job, you can’t do everything any more. Then the LFCs will gracefully withdraw to passive, the bitstreams merge into national competing bitstream providers, and the over one hundred RSPs will have real choice and no longer be merely a fig-leaf over the obscenity of “open wholesale” as an equivalent to “open access.”

    If it were me I’d get out of active and just lay fixed ROI RAB fibre. Otherwise someone should take the second tail and open the lambdas in it and see how quickly competed bitstreams would make the second LFC in the last mile a winner.

    There’s no way to unbundle that doesn’t get the passive infrastructure operator who insists on competing with their customer in environments they aren’t adapted to, beaten. Because civils doesn’t equip you to run WarnerMedia. You put mice in the elephant house for good reasons of warmth, food and water, but the mortality is high.

    All the layers call for different skill sets and perspectives, they don’t belong in the same shop any more.

    * https://www.nokia.com/en_int/blog/twdm-pon-unbundling-infrastructure-sharing

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