Access Based Charging Model Ahead say CPW Networks

Neil McArthur, Managing Director of Carphone Warehouse Networks told Comms Business Magazine his company could not have launched through TalkTalk a free broadband service without the new NGN technology.

“It provides a unified voice and data network; we have MSANs (Multi Service Access Nodes) instead of DSLAMs in the exchanges we have unbundled. So whatever our customers send us over that exchange – whether they are surfing the internet, VoIP or PSTN we sort it out at the MSAN. We have a common Ethernet backhaul, separate the voice from the data and manage the two accordingly.

By having this packet switched, unified network the fundamental efficiencies of the network are so much greater. That’s the upside of NGNs’. The downside is that you have to use new technology and new technology is notorious for being new. As a manager of a network the one thing you do not want to be is the first person to use a new piece of kit. Both BT, with their 21CN, and ourselves are suffering from using new kit.

Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) was fundamentally designed by the regulator for broadband but what it gave us was access and a set of products for building an NGN. What the regulator has now realised is that he needs to tweak the system to provide a more level playing field between ourselves and BT’s 21CN.

The message for resellers is to note that the UK will be moving to access based charging. Whatever comes over the network is somewhat irrelevant. At the moment most voice resellers live off of voice minutes – historically a convenient charging mechanism, but there is no reason why you should not charge for voice in the same way as you do for surfing the internet.

Resellers will need to move their business models to more access based products – line rental, unlimited calls to certain countries and broadband all included for one fixed monthly fee. Mobile companies are moving the same way. In our business the marginal cost for carrying a few extra packets for voice is quite small. It’s only the historic termination charges that cause any charge to be there at all.”

McArthur concluded by saying, “500,000 people are connected to our NGN with around 20,000 new users a week being connected.”