What's up with... The FCC; Nokia & DELTA Fiber; Colt Technology; The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

FCC Acting Chair, Jessica Rosenworcel

FCC Acting Chair, Jessica Rosenworcel

  • Digital Divide & Rule:  The FCC, the US telecoms regulator, has at long last, published to a map of US broadband coverage (an accurate one)
  • Nokia has won the business of providing the transport network for the DELTA Fiber build
  • Colt Technology is celebrating on-ramping 200 public cloud locations around the world
  • Australia'a ACCC is prosecuting three telecoms providers, Optus, Telstra and TPG Telecom Australia for misleading and overcharging

Progress on maps, but still the FCC os relying on the big telcos to mark their own homework; Colt has quietly gone about putting on-ramps everywhere.

Digital Divide & Rule:  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the US telecoms regulator, has at long last published to a new map that will let consumers see the type and extent of broadband and mobile comms coverage was available in any given locality and area. The incomplete and inaccurate maps available hitherto were so ancient that they showed little more than stage coach and Pony Express routes and a few telegraph stations along the iron road west of the Pecos. OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one. The FCC is congratulating itself on including coverage information from AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon but didn’t actually collect any coverage data itself. As before, the figures come from the carriers and have not been independently verified by the regulator, which is strange given that the maps be superceded by the new one were also based on partizan and partial information supplied by the telcos themselves. Yes, once again network operators have been marking their own homework. What’s more, the maps are already out of date because they provide nothing about 5G coverage. That’s bad enough but what is unforgivable is the complete exclusion of any information about the availability, coverage and speed of domestic home Internet service. Today these are probably the most important and pertinent consumer metrics but are simply ignored, presumably on the grounds that the Internet is a fad that won’t catch on with the public and will soon go the way of the penny-farthing bicycle. New coverage maps are mandated under the US Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which became law in March last year at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The FCC says other “even more up to date” maps will follow in due but unspecified time. Perhaps the next ones will actually take cognisance that broadband Internet access is now regarded as a human right and vital to bridging the yawning chasm of America’s digital divide. 

DELTA Fiber has selected Nokia to provide the next-generation optical transport network to handle DELTA Fiber’s ambitious rollout plans in The Netherlands (see - Snubbed takeover attempt leads to DELTA's aggressive €2B competitive fibre build). Last week DELTA Fiber announced that it had secured €2 billion to build out its Dutch network and that it plans to reach 25% of the country by offering XGS-PON at faster connection speeds and expand its current network to 2 million fiber connections by 2025. The Nokia network is based on 400G wavelengths to handle DELTA Fiber’s expected increased traffic and Nokia claims the 400Gbit/s speeds and higher wavelengths enable a simplified network that increases operational and cost efficiency.  DELTA Fiber will use the Nokia 1830 Photonic Service Switch platforms, powered by Nokia’s Photonic Service Engine technology. This will support DELTA Fiber’s deployment of a new Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing network, incorporating Nokia’s broad family of Reconfigurable Optical Add-Drop Multiplexers, enabling optimized core and metro applications to cover the entire country. The core network build is currently underway to support 19 sites and will be followed by the deployment of metro sites, covering approximately 75 locations. This deal is part of a broader cooperation with DELTA Fiber to support its expansion plans, which also includes Nokia supplying XGS.PON access network and customer premise equipment.

Giddy up: Colt Technology Services says it’s celebrating an interconnection milestone, passing more than 200 interconnections at public cloud on-ramp locations around the world. According to Colt CEO, Keri Gilder, the telco has become a “global cloud incumbent for connectivity” as the London-based network operator now connects into most of the major public cloud PoPs in Asia and Europe with connections (or on-ramps as Colt describes them) to all the big cloud guys  - AWS, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud and many more. 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is prosecuting three telecoms providers, Optus, Telstra and TPG Telecom (which used to be Vodafone Hutchison Australia) for misleading and overcharging hundreds of thousands of broadband subscribers via inflated claims of Internet access speeds. The competition watchdog is suing each of the companies in the Australian Federal Court, alleging that ‘guaranteed’ broadband access rates were not worth the paper that were printed on because Australia’s much-vaunted National Broadband Network (NBN) was incapable of providing the 50Mbps or 100Mbps fibre-to-the-node connection speeds the punters were paying for. The ACCC says the operators knew the speeds could not be achieved but not to tell all subscribers. The allegations cover the period April 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020. The Chairman of the Competition Commission, Rod Sims, says the providers pledged they would inform subscribers “in a timely manner” if they were not getting the speeds they were contracted to receive and were paying for. Some were so informed but hundreds of thousands of others weren’t. Back in 2019 the three providers assured customers that within three weeks of being connected to the NBN the access speeds that were getting would be tested to ascertain they were in accordance with their contracts. If the connection speed was found to be below par customers would have the pick other service options and refunds or be allowed to cancel their contracts. In their defence Telus and TPG say the NBN hadn’t told them that the promised 50Mbps speed was actually 44 Mbps and the 100 Mbps service was only 84 Mbps. Optus just said measuring NBN line speeds is “complicated.” Strewth! Rod Sims of the ACCC commented, “We could have taken them [the three operators] to court for this in 2017, but in the end just accepted an undertaking that they’d fix this up. The idea that they didn’t take the undertaking they gave to us seriously is of great concern to us. And so that’s why we’ll be going for particularly high penalties. We’re going in hard on this one.”

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