COTS issues coming to the fore

COTS issues coming to the fore

I spent Monday and Tuesday at CBN’s NextGen 09 conference in Leeds. The conference was well worth the trip, with a series of interesting presentations from excellent speakers interspersed with useful and relevant workshops.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was the number of speakers that referenced issues that the COTS Project is seeking to address. In the Digital Region workshop on Monday Graeme Dent discussed the engagement that South Yorkshire had been having with ISPs to date; this was followed on Tuesday by Stephen Timms talking about the importance of local projects, but also the need to ensure that these investments do not lead to stranded assets, and directly referencing the COTS project and the role of INCA.

During the day, further reference was made to COTS issues by Amy Chalfen of Openreach, and Gabrielle Gauthey’s excellent presentation, which would have been the highlight of the event for many, in part discussed what in essence was France’s approach to COTS. These issues were also discussed throughout the infrastructure-focused breakouts, with presentations from Quintain, Redstone and Rutland Telecom in particular highlighting the challenges facing local networks.

COTS issues are also becoming increasingly apparent in other markets. James Enck over at Eurotelcoblog has highlighted the buyout by Danish incumbent TDC of municipal fibre provider DONG Energy. According to their own press release, DONG have had difficulty engaging with service providers and have consequently struggled to generate a customer base sufficient to ensure a sustainable network. The Swedish approach to COTS issues has been widely discussed and examined here in the UK.

COTS challenges are going to be facing an increasing number of stakeholders as we move forward, and the issues will become more pressing the closer new access networks get to offering services to consumers. While the issues may be technical in nature, at the heart of the challenge are fundamental questions about the nature of the next generation broadband business model, of the relationship between network operators and ISPs, and of the relationship between end users and ISPs.

We are continuing to make progress on the COTS Project through our discussions with stakeholders. As we move forward with our process, we continue to encourage anyone who wishes to be engaged in the work, or who wants to know more about the work, to get in touch.

Peter Shearman, Policy Manager, BSG