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Recommendations from the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) for access to the local loop and its operational implementation / 30 October 2000

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Contents

1 Introduction

2 Regulatory framework

3 General principles

4 Description of services and terms of provision

4.1 Supply of preliminary information
List of general information
Lead-time for supplying information
List of detailed information
Terms of supply of detailed information
4.2 Completely unbundled access to the local loop
Description of service
Operational processes
4.3 Co-location services
Co-location services
Co-location process
Tie cable
4.4 Connection of co-located equipment
4.5 Managing interference
Spectrum management plan
Suspension of service

Annex 1: Preliminary information
Annex 2: Order-delivery process
Annex 3: Process of initialisation of co-location
Annex 4: Pooling transmission links

1 Introduction

On numerous occasions the French telecommunications regulator ART has stressed the importance of unbundling the local loop. This is a key factor in opening the local market to competition and fostering offers of high-speed Internet access.

The decree of 12 September 2000 relating to access to the local loop incorporates into the existing French regulatory framework, provisions on unbundling. The decree stipulates that, on 1 January 2001, "the operators named on the list established pursuant to paragraph 7 of Article L.36-7 are required to respond to requests for access to the local loop".

To facilitate the implementation of unbundling, ART set up a working group to define the technical, operational and economic conditions for unbundling. The group started work in February 2000 and the first experiments began in July 2000.

The groups work highlighted the complexity of unbundling. The discussions clarified the definition of the various services related to unbundling and the technical and operational processes required to implement these services. The results of the discussions are reflected in the documents produced by the working group. The various participants, with the exception of France Télécom, indicated that they wanted ART to guide the implementation of various crucial provisions by means of recommendations.

The aim of these recommendations is to clarify, in the light of the groups work, the definitions of the various services and the principles underpinning their implementation and, where necessary, to explain various aspects.

In these recommendations, ART has endeavoured to take into account both the issues raised at the working groups discussions and international references, particularly those of Germany, Italy and the UK.

2 Regulatory framework

The French regulatory framework is now enshrined in the decree of 12 September on access to the local loop. A set of draft regulations was submitted by the European Commission in July and could be adopted before end-2000. Member States will then be bound by those regulations.

The recommendations in this document seek to clarify the implementation of the various provisions of the decree. They are not regulatory in nature and do not entail amendments to existing legislation. They do not deprive ART of its freedom of judgement, particularly in the sphere of dispute settlement. ART may also deviate from these guidelines, either for reasons of public interest or to take particular circumstances into account.

3 General principles

These recommendations offer a detailed description of the principles underpinning the unbundling of the local loop, particularly the principles of objectivity, non-discrimination and transparency. These principles are set forth in the aforementioned decree, in the European Commissions recommendation and in the draft European regulations.

As a preliminary, ART considers it useful to recall the provisions set forth in the decree:

"The operators named on the list established pursuant to paragraph 7 of Article L. 36-7 are required to respond in an objective, transparent and non discriminatory way to reasonable requests for access to the local loop, for the metal portion of their network situated between the main distribution frame and the termination point on subscriber premises, where such requests are expressed by holders of the authorization provided in Article L. 33-1."

France Télécom was included on this list for 2001 by ART Decision 00-813 dated 26 July 2000.

Principle of non-discrimination

To comply with the principle of non-discrimination, France Télécom must offer access to the local loop under conditions equivalent to those which it applies to itself. More precisely, France Télécom will be considered to infringe the principle of non-discrimination if it fails to provide operators with offers that are financially and technically equivalent to its own. Examples of such infringements include: refusal to provide co-location space when France Télécom makes space available for the provision of its own DSL services, refusal to provide specific information on bare copper access when France Télécom uses such information for its own needs and when this information can be reasonably produced, and delivery of services within lead-times significantly longer than those which France Télécom applies to itself.

Principle of transparency

To comply with the principle of transparency, France Télécom must forward to ART the agreements on local loop access and must publish a reference offer. The reference offer must describe all the services relating to access to the local loop, particularly co-location services, tie cables and backhaul transmission links provision.

Principle of offer unbundling

The services described in the reference offer must be sufficiently unbundled so that operators can request only those that they actually require. This provision is also explicitly set forth in the draft European regulations adopted by the Council of Ministers on 3 October 2000.

Trade secrets and confidential information

Operators that obtain information in the course of the negotiation or implementation of an agreement on local loop access must use this information solely for the purposes explicitly set forth in the agreement. This information may not be disclosed to other subsidiary services or partners for which it could represent a competitive advantage. Pursuant to Article D.99-23 of the Post and Telecommunications Code, the entities requesting access shall take all measures necessary to ensure the confidentiality of the information provided, the disclosure of which could undermine the integrity or the security of the network (particularly site addresses).

4 Description of services - terms of provision

Article D.99-23 of the Post and Telecommunications Code, as contained in the decree of 12 September 2000, sets forth that:

"The operators named on the list established pursuant to paragraph 7 of Article L. 36-7 are required to respond in accordance with objective, transparent and non discriminatory criteria to reasonable demands for access to the local loop, for the metallic part of their network situated between the main distribution frame and the termination point located on subscriber premises, issued by holders of the authorization provided in Article L. 33-1."

Access to the local loop may be either:

- access to the part of the network referred to above (completely unbundled access to the local loop);

- access to non-voice frequencies on such part of the network (shared access to the local loop), with the incumbent operator continuing to provide the telephone service to the public.

Access to the local loop also includes associated services, notably the supply of information necessary for implementing access to the local loop, an offer of co-location of equipment and an offer enabling the connection of the equipment to the networks of the entities requesting access".

These recommendations cover the definition and the implementation of the services relating to local loop access. Initially, they refer only to the services examined by the working group when unbundling was understood to mean completely unbundled access to the local loop. However, they will serve as a reference for the implementation of the terms of shared access to the local loop, which may be treated in a new document.

Access to the local loop consists of the following basic services:

  • Supply of preliminary information required for implementation of unbundling;
  • Completely unbundled access to the local loop, which comprises delivery and maintenance of the pair and a service guarantee covering raw copper access;
  • Co-location, provision and installation of tie cables;
  • Connection of co-located equipment to the networks of the entities requesting access (backhaul).

All these services are essential to the implementation of unbundling.

4.1 Supply of preliminary information

Implementation of unbundling requires the provision by France Télécom of information about its local loop network. Two levels of information are required: general information on the networks characteristics and topology, and more detailed information about the characteristics of subscriber lines. The general information enables the operators to plan their deployment. The more detailed information enables them to offer high-speed services to identified clients.

4.1.1 List of general information

General information must allow the operator to evaluate the viability of its project. This information must be as detailed as the information that France Télécom uses for its own services and be regularly updated.

The general network information required by the operators has been identified as follows:

For each distribution frame site:

  • the site address,
  • the size category of the distribution frame,
  • a description of the served area and its specific characteristics,
  • the space available for physical co-location,
  • location of the cable chambers 0 and the availability of lead-in ducts on express request.

Annex 1 sets out what this information should include to comply with the criteria of objectivity and transparency specified in the decree. This information must be provided wherever possible through a secure website, as is customary in the UK. In accordance with the requirement for an unbundled offer, each piece of information must refer to a specific service and the operator must be able to obtain the services that it actually requires. In particular, the list of addresses and the size categories must be provided independently from the information on the served area.

4.1.2 Lead-time for supplying information

General information must be supplied sufficiently in advance of the effective opening of unbundling so that operators can plan their deployment and investment strategies. The decree specifies that this information must be provided from 1 October 2000 onwards.

Upon receipt of an acceptable request, this information must be provided within seven (7) days.

4.1.3 List of detailed information

Once potential clients have been identified, operators will want to become involved in France Télécoms line production process and receive detailed technical information about subscriber lines on request.

This information is as follows:

  • estimated length of the line,
  • diameters used,
  • whether there is a network termination unit (NTU) installed.

However, a manual process is not ideal for the industrial development of unbundling. ART would therefore like this information to be supplied through a secure IT system (extranet) by end-2001.

4.1.4 Terms of supply of detailed information

To implement a completely unbundled access offer, the operators need to have technical information about the characteristics of the line at a given address so that they can evaluate the services they can offer and plan the marketing of these services through indirect distribution channels.

4.2 Completely unbundled access to the local loop

This is the core unbundling service since it covers the delivery and maintenance of copper pairs.

The quality of this service is guaranteed by France Télécom to operators in compliance with the proper procedures and engineering standards for cables: continuous shielding, grounding, waterproof cables and non-degradation of pairs.

4.2.1 Description of service

In general, completely unbundled access to the local loop consists in making available one or more copper pairs between the main distribution frame and a termination point. However, the definition used in the decree does not exclude reasonable requests for access to sections of the network between these two points.

The number of unbundled copper pairs at a given termination point depends on the available capacity of the network. However, since France Télécom makes offers to its clients that can require the use of more than two copper pairs, the operator must also be able to offer this type of service and must therefore be able to obtain a theoretically unlimited number of pairs at a termination point, within the limits of available capacity.

The service includes the provision, installation and maintenance of unbundled pairs.

It consists either of the transfer of existing pairs that already support a telecommunication service (analogue telephone service, digital telephone service or leased-line service) or of the creation and transfer of new pairs.

The term new pairs means either existing end-to-end pairs that do not support services, or pairs formed from the joining of existing sections of the network, or pairs in which one element requires the deployment of an additional cable.

ART encourages pairs to be created through the construction of new sections, so as to facilitate the implementation of unbundling.

If additional pairs are not deployed for requests for access to the local loop:

  • Operators will need information on the capacity available on the network so they can make their offers in a given zone;
  • The available pairs will have to be managed carefully to comply with the principle of non-discrimination, as resources become scarce;
  • When a client wishes to benefit from an operators offer and when capacity in number of pairs at his premises is insufficient, it will have to request a service from France Télécom requiring the deployment of additional pairs, then make the operator responsible for unbundling these pairs. Given that non-rescindment clauses are included in various subscriptions to new services, such a process would not be operational and a number of users would be unable to access the operators offers.

These consequences are serious and could sharply reduce the impact of local loop access.

In practice, the problem of availability of pairs is unlikely to occur in the transport and distribution cables of the network, where France Télécom provides for additional capacity, but in the customer drop cables of the network. Hence, most of the new pairs do not require major work and the cost to France Télécom of deploying additional pairs should not be excessive.

Under these conditions, given the serious consequences that a refusal to deploy new pairs could have on the impact of access to the local loop and the small effort required of France Télécom, ART considers that France Télécom should respond to requests to construct new pairs for local loop access when it does not have the available resources.

When a subscriber asks to transfer a copper pair, the operator can allow him to keep the same number. Similarly, if a client wishes to return to France Télécom, then France Télécom can offer number portability.

Exceptions

At this stage, the pairs that are not eligible for transfer are:

  • Lines with discontinuous metal wire;
  • Lines with active or passive equipment likely to interfere with the processing of signals carried by the pair: France Télécom will treat this case in the same way as it does for its own needs and may, under these circumstances, change the configuration;
  • Lines established as data links if the subscriber does not want to rescind the relevant data service;
  • Telex lines;
  • Lines connected to an automatic sub-distribution frame;
  • Terminal installation established as part of a public phone service (public phonebooth).

Exceptional difficulties yet to be defined could also justify a decision not to construct pairs.

Only the cases mentioned above are grounds for a refusal of access. France Télécom must explain to the operator the reasons for refusing access.

4.2.2 Operational processes

Three different processes have been defined: transfer of pairs, creation and transfer of pairs and maintenance.

4.2.2.1 Subscriber authorisations

A firm order for unbundling presupposes receipt of an authorisation from the client. This authorisation must be transmitted to the operator, which then places its order with France Télécom and ensures that unbundling is carried out properly for its client. When an operator uses other companies to market its services, clients' requests for unbundling must transit via the operator, which passes them along to France Télécoms one-stop shop.

Regardless of the arrangements for unbundling, France Télécom remains the owner of the access. France Télécom is also required to maintain the access, including sending technicians to the subscribers premises if required.

The authorisation must stipulate the conditions, rights and obligations of the subscriber in relation to France Télécom. When this information is included in the authorisation, there is no need for a specific connection contract with the subscriber.

The working group may produce a model authorisation that includes these various rights and obligations.

The client sends an authorisation to the operator indicating that it wishes either to transfer one of its existing pairs to the operator or that it wants the operator to order new pairs on its behalf, which will then be transferred. The authorisation to transfer an existing line signed by the client indicates that the client wishes to rescind the various subscriptions to the services carried by the line. This authorisation is equivalent to cancelling the subscription to the telephone service and possibly the cancellation of the other services supported by the line. The client therefore does not have to undertake any further formalities vis-à-vis France Télécom.

Regarding the creation and transfer of pairs, once the operator has an authorisation, it does not have to undertake any specific procedures vis-à-vis the building manager.

The client, who is not necessarily the holder of the subscription to the services supported by the line, may sign the authorisation in compliance with the common law provisions relating to such authorisations, but declares that it has obtained the agreement of the holder and can be held liable in the event of a complaint made by the holder of the line.

To be readily comprehensible to the client, the authorisation should be a standard form independent from the operators commercial publications.

For every unbundling request transmitted to France Télécom, the operator concerned must undertake to keep the clients authorisation for the entire time for which unbundling is effective and for at least one year afterwards so that it can be produced in the event of a dispute, particularly a complaint made by the client or the holder of the line.

In the event of a complaint from the client or the holder of the line, the operator must undertake to transmit the written authorisation by facsimile as soon as possible, and within three (3) days at the latest. When the client is not the holder of the line, the operator undertakes to request the line-holder's written agreement from the client and to transmit it to France Télécom as soon as possible, and within ten (10) days at the latest.

If the investigation into the dispute finds the operator liable, the client returns to the original operator, either a new entrant or France Télécom.

The authorisation procedure must be reciprocal between France Télécom and the operator, in accordance with the principle of fair competition. Because the client has signed a contract with a third-party operator, the operator has the same right as France Télécom to obtain written proof of the clients wish to terminate its contract. If the client of the third-party operator wishes to subscribe to a France Télécom service on the unbundled pair, France Télécom undertakes to obtain the clients written agreement before performing the relevant procedures for the client to return to France Télécom and obtain the services concerned. Similarly, the procedure for transmission of the authorisation in the event of a dispute is similar to that described above.

4.2.2.2 Order delivery process

The working groups discussions established the basic principles of the process of ordering delivery of pairs.

The detailed processes that ART would like to see implemented, and which reflect the results of the groups work, are described in Annex 2. These include an information provision phase and an order delivery phase.

Supply of detailed information

To implement this service, operators must have technical information on the characteristics of the line at a given address, so they can evaluate the services that they can offer and possibly plan the marketing of these services through indirect distribution channels. They therefore need an information supply service that is separate from the intent to order or the order itself. The list of detailed information that it would appear reasonable to supply is given in 4.1.3).

Delivery lead-time

When the operators market their offers, they must indicate to their clients the lead-time for implementing their service. France Télécom must therefore commit to maximum lead-time for the delivery of pairs, with financial penalties in the event of delays. These commitments must be set with reference to the lead-time that France Télécom offers its own divisions and subsidiaries. Maximum lead-time will be set in the following three cases:

  • Transfer of a pair that already supports telecommunications services, which does not require a technician to be sent to the subscribers premises.
  • Creation and transfer of a pair when it is created from existing sections of the network, which may require sending a technician to the subscribers premises.
  • Construction of a pair that requires laying a new cable or carrying out civil engineering works on the network.

In the first two cases, a maximum lead-time will be set between the intent to order and the delivery of the pair. These lead-times must be reasonable. As a guideline, the maximum lead-time in Germany is seven (7) days and the maximum lead-time in the UK are respectively three (3) and five (5) days from the firm order, i.e. 11 and 13 days in the context of the process chosen in France.

ART considers it reasonable for the pairs be delivered within a maximum lead-time from the intent to order of eight (8) days for a transfer and ten (10) days for a creation and transfer, under the process described in Annex 2.

Installation of Network Termination Units (NTU)

France Télécom has indicated that it will deploy equipment to identify the origin of faults on all subscribers copper pairs on which the analogue telephone service is provided. This equipment (NTU) will be installed on the subscribers premises when the subscriber requests the creation of pairs or during a maintenance operation on the line. This equipment must be installed on unbundled pairs under the same conditions as on the pairs used by France Télécom for its own needs. In particular, the possible impact of NTUs on the deployment of certain xDSL technologies will have to be taken into account.

Appointment with the client

When pairs are created, an appointment must be made for work on the users site. When the pair has been ordered by the operator, the operator manages the appointment with France Télécom in accordance with the clients availability. A procedure of electronic interchange will have to be designed for this purpose. If changes to the subscriber's terminal installation are requested, France Télécom will ensure, as far as possible, that these be made at the time of the appointment for the creation of pairs, so as to avoid the inconvenience of several appointments.

Handover of the pair

The working group considered it necessary to establish a handover procedure for receiving the pair, mainly to deal with cases where the pair is off-specification as regards the operators services.

As soon as the pair is made available, France Télécom must transmit a report to the third-party operator that includes:

  • The date and time the pair was made available;
  • The calibre and length parameters extracted from France Télécoms database;
  • Whether there is a surge protector on the pair;
  • Whether there is a testing module;
  • Whether there is a NTU on the subscribers premises.

On delivery of the copper pair, the operator measures the overall attenuation of the pair at 300 Khz.

The copper pair may be rejected by the operator if, according to the proper procedures and engineering standards, the attenuation measured is greater than the theoretical total attenuation calculated plus 10% from the various production runs and various cable suppliers, plus 3 dB.

The theoretical attenuation is calculated on the basis of information provided at the order stage (calibre and length in each calibre), plus attenuation of 0.5 dB for the connection cable, not contained on France Télécoms database, and the attenuation of the tie cable.

4.2.2.3 After-sales service process

The after-sales service process is a key factor in the success of unbundling. The procedures put in place between the operator and France Télécom must be defined as accurately as possible and the lead-time and service quality commitments must be honoured.

A single entity will manage the maintenance of unbundled pairs at France Télécom.

The sequence of operations is summarised below:

  • The third-party operator first checks whether the reported fault comes from the client terminal installation or from the part of the network between the service termination point on the distribution frame side and its active equipment (e.g. DSLAM, BAS, ISP connection). If no such fault is found:
  • The operator reports a fault on the pair to France Télécom.
  • France Télécom undertakes an investigation and makes any necessary repairs.

Reports of faults transmitted by the operator to France Télécom must be treated under the same conditions as those from France Télécom clients.

Lead-time

France Télécom's lead-time commitments for repairs must be comparable to those that it applies to itself. ART recalls that France Télécom undertakes to restore its telephone service on the day after receiving a report from one of its own clients. France Télécom explained that it could not conduct tests on unbundled pairs under the same conditions as tests on pairs that it uses for its own needs and that it would therefore take more time to locate faults. It proposes a lead-time commitment of two days after a report is received.

However, if the operator conducts tests on the unbundled pair and provides France Télécom with the results in a similar format to the results of tests that France Télécom conducts on lines that are not unbundled, ART does not see any reason why France Télécom could not offer the same lead-time commitments to operators as those that it offers its own clients. ART therefore asks France Télécom to commit to a next-day timeframe in such situations.

Services for business clients

The operators will have to make alternative offers to corporate clients to those now made by France Télécom. France Télécom guarantees to restore the service for business clients within four (4) or six (6) hours on a business or non-business day. The operators will have to be able to make similar guarantees and France Télécom should offer, possibly within a commercial framework, an after-sales service allowing operators to comply with such a configuration.

Service quality

The contracts should include precise, relevant service quality commitments. The following indicators could for example be mentioned: annual rate of overall availability of the pairs, maximum annual service disruption and repair-time guarantees.

Scheduled work

If work is scheduled on the cables of the local loop, France Télécom must notify the operator(s) affected by this work by facsimile at least ten (10) business days in advance. France Télécom must indicate the day, time and estimated duration of the work, the pairs that are affected by the suspension of the service and the reason for the work. France Télécom must endeavour as far as possible to reduce the disruption for the operators.

Emergency work on cables

In cases of emergency maintenance operations, France Télécom may suspend its services to an operator, even if the operators copper pairs are not directly affected by the fault reported (e.g. a flooded cable). It should notify the operator by telephone in advance and confirm by facsimile, indicating the nature of the fault and an estimate of the time required to restore the service.

Force majeure could suspend some or all of the services on the copper pairs affected. France Télécom should advise the operators as quickly as possible by telephone and confirm by facsimile the problems encountered and take all the necessary measures with a view to ending the disruption as quickly as possible and in a non-discriminatory manner.

Examples of force majeure include: unusually bad weather, natural disasters, floods, fire, lightning and terrorist attacks (to be defined by the working group).

4.3 Co-location services

Local loop unbundling can only be implemented if the operators are able to pick up the subscribers pairs on an operator distribution frame located near France Télécoms main distribution frame. For provision of services based on xDSL technology, the operators equipment (DSLAM or other) must be installed near France Télécoms main distribution frame so that the copper pairs remain at a length that allows for the provision of services at appropriate speeds. Therefore, co-location in or near the buildings accommodating the main distribution frames is an essential pre-condition for unbundling.

In this respect, the decree recalls that co-location is included in access to the local loop and that the "the requests for co-location are processed by the operators mentioned in the first paragraph according to objective, transparent and non discriminatory criteria".

The co-location of equipment also requires the installation of a tie cable between the main distribution frame and the operator distribution frame and the ability to connect the co-located equipment to the operators network.

These services are described below.

4.3.1Co-location services

The co-location service includes the provision of a serviceable co-location space and is quite different from the service for interconnection. Three types of co-location have been identified: physical, remote and virtual.

Physical co-location

Physical co-location involves the leasing of space in a France Télécom building for the purpose of installing equipment required for the implementation of unbundling. This equipment can be placed in a separate room, or in rooms accommodating France Télécom equipment, or in an external location found by France Télécom. This equipment is the property of the operator, which is responsible for maintenance, and which must therefore have access to the building.

Equipment that can be co-located

The equipment necessary for the implementation of access to the local loop must be co-locatable. The main types of equipment are:

  • SDH transmission equipment (STM, ADM),
  • ATM multiplexers,
  • subscriber multiplexers,
  • pair gain systems,
  • DSLAM for ADSL, SDSL, VDSL modems and related filters,
  • HDSL, SDSL racks,
  • test equipment,
  • xDSL test modems,
  • automatic distribution frames,
  • related supervising/managing equipment,
  • power equipment, converters, batteries.

Because some manufacturers DSLAMs include transmission functions and the prohibition on installing transmission equipment in co-location rooms would require the deployment of a dedicated optical fibre for each DSLAM, ART considers it reasonable that transmission equipment be deployed in the co-location room. Only constraints in terms of space management could justify a restriction on transmission equipment.

Use of co-location spaces

The co-location space must be used for the implementation of access to the local loop. It must not be used by the operator to set up a point of presence. If operators share a co-location room, services allowing the pooling of equipment will save space, and it is desirable that the various operators' equipment may be connected without hindrance.

Insurance

The operators must take out an insurance policy to cover the risks related to the co-location of equipment. However, the working group found that, unless specific measures are taken, the costs of this insurance policy could be dissuasive. Therefore, the working group proposed that a collective insurance policy be implemented under the following conditions:

Regarding general liability insurance, France Télécom could take out a specific general liability policy under which all the operators would have the status of insured and would be considered as third parties to each other. Every operator that signs an unbundling contract would be automatically insured for general liability under this insurance policy and would have to pay a share of the premium. Indeed, payment of this share could be a pre-condition for the entry into effect of the unbundling contract. In the event of a claim, all claimant operators, including France Télécom, would be compensated.

ART considers this proposal reasonable and would like it to be implemented.

Remote co-location

Remote co-location is when the operators equipment is installed on premises found by the operator near France Télécoms building. In this case, the operator no longer has access to France Télécoms building. The operator is responsible for defining the equipment that can be installed on its premises. France Télécom must provide the operator with a precise description of the location of the cable chambers, the availability of lead-in ducts and the length of the cable between the main distribution frame and each cable chamber.

Virtual co-location

Virtual co-location is when the operators equipment is installed and maintained by France Télécom on its premises. The operator does not have access to these premises. The interface between France Télécom and the operator is located in the cable chamber.

The preferred solution identified by the working group is physical co-location in a specific room shared between operators, to which access will be facilitated. Remote co-location is considered difficult to implement because of the difficulty in finding premises near France Télécoms buildings and the required extension of the length of copper pairs. However, remote co-location does facilitate management of the space available in France Télécoms buildings and must be proposed as a co-location option.

If there is no information available on the space available in France Télécoms buildings, the main difficulty raised by the working group and which the recommendations need to clarify relates to the management of the spaces in France Télécoms buildings. Experience from other countries has shown that one of the hurdles to the implementation of unbundling is managing co-location spaces and finding alternative solutions. This point will be examined as part of the process.

4.3.2 Co-location process

The working groups discussions found that the co-location process needs to satisfy operators timeframe concerns and offer a way of managing limited space. To achieve this, the operators forecasts should be taken into account.

Since physical co-location in a separate room is preferred, France Télécoms needs to be able to anticipate needs. In this way, spaces can be found and rooms set up in its buildings without waiting for operators orders so as to reduce the delivery lead-time and to identify any problems that could occur. Operators therefore need to supply order forecasts so that room dimensions can be calculated and rooms can be set up.

The initialisation phase of the process requires special attention. The operators will probably focus initially on the same urban sites and there is considerable risk that some of these sites will be saturated by excess demand. The decree sets forth a period of three (3) months before the effective opening of unbundling to anticipate these issues, and ART has proposed that a specific process be implemented as part of an initial phase. To support this process and to anticipate possible difficulties, ART wants a specific working group to be set up for this purpose.

Initialisation phase

The process at initialisation must:

  • allow co-location of operators equipment within the best possible time,
  • allow a maximum number of operators to install their equipment,
  • handle a possible shortage of space and offer balanced management when space is limited.

The discussions found that the process that met these various requirements the best involved:

  • construction of rooms as soon as a firm order has been accepted, to keep lead-time to a minimum,
  • a preliminary calculation of the dimensions of the rooms to be built depending on the size and location of the distribution frame,
  • a limit of four bays per operator on urban sites for the first six months of orders,
  • financing of the rooms by the operators,
  • possibly, intervention by ART if there is a shortage of space.

A detailed description of the process is provided in the annex. In particular, with respect to the lead-time proposed, the rooms should be made available to operators by 1 March 2001.

To ensure that a maximum number of operators can be accommodated in the co-location rooms, ART proposes limiting orders to four bays per operator per site in urban areas during an initial phase of six months beginning on 1 October 2000.

However, shortages of space may occur, particularly when the distribution frame site does not contain enough space to set up a room with the foreseen dimensions. In this case, the operators and ART need to be notified as early as possible. On urban sites, particularly those on which France Télécom has deployed or intends to deploy its DSLAMs, France Télécom must be able to alert operators and ART to this risk as early as possible.

When this occurs and after making the requisite notifications, France Télécom should seek other ways to meet demand. It must undertake to collect operators firm orders within two (2) weeks and evaluate the maximum possible dimensions of the room and additional ways to respond to the needs expressed. If space and additional solutions still prove insufficient, ART may visit the sites to verify the difficulties encountered and then propose a procedure to select or adapt the requests made with a view to satisfying the greatest number. It goes without saying that the principle of non-discrimination would be applied to all the operators, including France Télécom, in this case.

Fully operational phase

Once the system is fully operational, the operators have proposed that forecasts be transmitted and updated and that flows of orders arrive at predetermined times.

The target process considered the most effective includes the following phases:

  • Provision of updated information by France Télécom, which should include, in the initial phase (until July 2001), the list of subscriber units/remote subscriber units, the hosting capacity, access problems, served area and, in the fully operational phase, the state of occupation and reservation of the sites.
  • The operators annual co-location forecasts, updated every six months (in May and November), indicating the site concerned, space and power needs, the desired access conditions, the type of co-location, the mode of transmission and a preliminary visit request.
  • France Télécom responds individually to the forecasts and updates the information on the sites.
  • Within a certain time after the forecasts have been transmitted, the operator makes its reservations and an accompanying down payment, the amount of which remains to be determined. France Télécom updates its reservation information. The operator can then visit the site and France Télécom provides a quote for work.
  • The operator makes its firm order within one (1) month after making a reservation.

France Télécom begins the work and undertakes to deliver the co-location within four (4) months after the order if the equipment is placed in a room that has not yet been set up and within one (1) month if the equipment is placed in a room that has already been set up. This time covers making the equipped room available, installing the tie cable and possibly providing the service that allows connection of co-located equipment to the networks of the entities requesting access.

These lead-times are comparable to those offered in the UK and Germany.

Escalation procedures and case referral procedures are to be defined between operators.

Space management

It is likely that a number of sites will not be able to accommodate all the operators requests at a given time through physical co-location. This point was the topic of lengthy discussions at the working group and is perceived in a number of countries as the most difficult issue to resolve.

Forecasts of operator requests should be used to anticipate this type of problem as early as possible. Similarly, information on the availability of space on the sites should be provided in the best manner possible to allow operators to take measures when these situations occur.

In any case, the operators and ART should be informed as soon as such a problem is identified.

The measures to handle these issues in the initialisation phase have been described above.

When the system is fully operational, France Télécom has proposed that the operators find remote sites in such cases. However, before envisaging remote co-location, for which the operator has to find a site near France Télécoms premises, which can be difficult in urban areas, any alternative solution making it possible to meet demand should be sought. France Télécom is required to process the operators demand according to non-discriminatory criteria in relation to requests from its own divisions and it must explore the solutions that it would offer itself. France Télécom must consider installing the operators equipment in the rooms in which France Télécom puts its own equipment and could only justify a refusal of such an installation by demonstrating genuine risks for the security of its own equipment or access problems. However, to remove these risks, virtual co-location could be proposed with the possible requirement that the operator choose equipment already used by France Télécom to facilitate maintenance. France Télécom could also envisage providing lightweight structures near the building accommodating the distribution frame, as in Germany.

At the end of this process, if solutions other than remote co-location have not been found, ART may visit the site to verify this lack of availability, particularly with respect to spaces kept in reserve for France Télécoms future needs.

4.3.3 Tie cable

This service will consist in the extension of the unbundled copper pairs to physical or remote co-location spaces via a tie cable. This cable will terminate on an operator distribution frame.

Physical co-location

A tie cable is installed by France Télécom between the main distribution frame and an operator distribution frame located in the co-location space. The cable is provided and installed by France Télécom. France Télécom installs the trusses of the operator distribution frame and the vertical heads. The junctions between the vertical heads and the operators equipment are the responsibility of the operator. The vertical plot of each subscriber line can be indicated by France Télécom to the operator or by the operator to France Télécom if the operator wants to pre-cable its equipment. The interface between France Télécom and the operator is located at the tie cable connection point of the operator distribution frame. To minimise disruptions between broadband services on tie cables, the cables are FTP 5 and dedicated to each operator.

Remote co-location

Since the remote co-location site is not on France Télécoms premises, the installation of the tie cable will require either using existing ducts or requesting permission from the roads department to build new ones. In most cases, France Télécom will be able to use the ducts that it owns to take the tie cable to the operators premises and the cable should be provided and installed by France Télécom, as it is for physical co-location. However, in certain cases, the operator may have obtained permission from the roads department or want to manage this service itself. The cable could be taken by the operator to the cable chamber and extended by France Télécom. Both possibilities should therefore be proposed, as is the case in the UK.

The cables must be delivered within one (1) month from the firm order when the service consists in the extension of the cable from the cable chamber, and within two (2) months when the service includes the installation of the cable at the operators premises.

4.4 Connection of co-located equipment

Once co-located in France Télécoms buildings, the operator must be able to connect its equipment to its network.

Given that there are 12,000 sites accommodating distribution frames, 900 of which also contain subscriber switches, the operators will not have deployed the infrastructure required to connect their equipment to their network across all the sites in the short or medium term. Instead, they will have to be able either to re-use the infrastructure that they had already deployed for interconnection, or to use a transmission link service offered by either France Télécom or another operator. Conversely, the use of equipment initially installed for unbundling for the purposes of interconnection should not be excluded (see plans in Annex 4).

The operators co-located equipment can be connected to its network either by proprietary cable installation in the building accommodating the co-location space or by the re-use of the equipment already deployed for interconnection or via a transmission link provided either by France Télécom or by a third party (the various cases are described in Annex 3).

France Télécoms transmission link offer is understood to mean the provision of data transfer rates, particularly n*2Mbit/s, 34Mbit/s and 155 Mbit/s. In accordance with the decree of 12 September, this offer comes under access to the local loop and the various provisions of the decree are applicable.

The transmission link service offered by operators other than France Télécom can be either a provision of dark fibre or a provision of datalinks. ART considers that such offers are likely to appear as data links and would like the various cases described in Annex 4 to be possible.

4.5 Managing interference

The coexistence of several broadband and narrowband services on the cables can cause disruptions to some of these services. The working group recommends that measures be taken to reduce these risks. A method based on frequency patterns was chosen because it avoids the need to study of each of these technologies and gives visibility to the operators and manufacturers.

4.5.1 Spectrum management plan

To reduce interference on the copper pairs of France Télécoms local network, the operators, including France Télécom, will have to comply with the spectrum management plan devised by the working group for the deployment of broadband services via xDSL technology. The final objective is to transmit the most data possible under the best possible conditions on the cables in general and on each copper pair in particular.

A Power Spectral Density Mask (PSDM) has been determined within the framework of the plan. This PSDM makes it possible to select the technologies accepted for the deployment of broadband services on France Télécoms local loop. A standard technology recognised by a standards body or any other technical body will be accepted if it complies with the PSDM, whatever its data transfer rate. The list of technology authorised from 1 January 2001 on France Télécoms local loop will be established by the working group.

The plan must authorise the maximum technical configurations deployable, in compliance with the established PSDMs. It must give each operator total flexibility in designing its broadband services. The operators will have the possibility of experimenting pre-standard technologies if it is clearly established that the introduction of these technologies on the local loop will not disrupt previously deployed services.

If tests show that certain technologies are disrupted by the NTU, the operator and France Télécom should agree not to install this equipment on the relevant pairs.

4.5.2 Suspension of service

When an operators service disrupts the existing services of other operators on the network, as a result of the use by this operator of technology that does not comply with the PSDM set by the working group, France Télécom asks the operator that caused the disruption to stop the service as soon as possible and notifies ART. If the operator does not take action within 24 hours, France Télécom can stop its service.

When disruptions occur on the network that do not result from the use of technology that does not comply with the PSDM, France Télécom conducts tests on the network to identify the disruption and the pairs at issue. It then informs the operator of the problems found on its copper pairs. The operator must take action to end the disruption (e.g. limiting the data transfer rate or changing technology) or challenge the tests conducted by France Télécom within 72 hours excluding non-business days. In this case an escalation procedure will be initiated. This procedure must be exceptional and recourse to an escalation procedure will be the subject of a joint incident analysis by France Télécom and the operator.

If, after verification of the copper pair(s), it is found that the disturbance is caused by France Télécom, France Télécom will have to take action to end the disruption within 72 hours excluding non-business days.

In the case of disagreement between France Télécom and the operator about the origin of the disruption, the parties can submit the matter to ART, which will decide whether the service on the copper pairs at issue should be suspended.

If the operator does not take action within 72 hours excluding non-business days, France Télécom will stop its service on the pair(s) at issue. France Télécom must inform the operator by facsimile and confirm by registered letter with return receipt that the service has been stopped and notify ART.

Recommendations from the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) for access to the local loop and its operational implementation / 30 October 2000

Annex 1: Preliminary information

There are two categories of information:

  • general information used to plan investments,
  • detailed information on residential subscriber lines once the potential clients have been identified.

1) General information

The following information is relevant:

For each distribution frame in the subscriber units/remote subscriber units:

  • Precise identification of the distribution frame: name of the main distribution frame, street and postal address, and an additional code similar to the code for interconnection (the address will have to show clearly the distribution frames that are found on the site of a local exchange already mentioned in the interconnection catalogue).
  • The size category of the distribution frame: this information will indicate for example if the distribution frame has fewer than 2,000 lines, between 2,000 and 10,000 lines, between 10,000 and 30,000 lines or more than 30,000 lines. Other more relevant categories can be used.
  • The served area of the distribution frame and its specific characteristics: this information must be sufficiently detailed to be useful for the operators. This must be a list of the addresses of the buildings connected to the distribution frame updated annually, or geocoded maps, or, failing this, a list of the ZABPQ number blocks connected to the distribution frame.
  • Possible restrictions on physical co-location on the site of the distribution frame: this is information about the available space on the sites of the distribution frames or about any lack of space.
  • Durability of the distribution frame: operators must be informed 18 months before the closure of a site and exchanges of information must be organised on the trends of France Télécom’s network in terms of distribution frames.
  • Location of the cable chambers and any restrictions on the number of lead-in ducts.

2) Detailed information about a residential subscriber line once a potential client has been identified

Once potential clients have been identified, the operators want to be able to be included in Télécom’s line production process and receive on request detailed technical information about subscriber lines.

This information includes:

  • estimated length of the line,
  • diameter used,
  • whether there is a NTU.

By the end of 2001, this information should preferably be provided through access to a computerised database.

Recommendations from the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) for access to the local loop and its operational implementation / 30 October 2000

Annex 2: Order-delivery process

Services:

Order intention or feasibility studies (stage 1 of the process): for a given address, this service consists in France Télécom conducting a study of the transfer of existing pairs or of the construction of new pairs, indicating the time required to perform this work and the effective characteristics of the unbundled pair, and reserving the resources needed until the firm order.

Firm order (stage 2 of the process): this is an order to conduct unbundling with an express authorisation from the client. This stage may or may not be preceded by stage 1.

Receiving the pair (stage 3 of the process): on delivery, the operator checks the compliance of the pair with the estimated characteristics. A procedure for rejecting the pair will be defined.

Target process:

If France Télécom indicates to the operator that the pair has to be constructed by installing a new cable, a specific process is applied.

This process is as follows:

A service of supply of information is proposed independently of any order intention or firm order.

The operator expresses the intention to order a transfer or a creation and transfer at a given address (the operator may have previously requested information about the connection). France Télécom acknowledges receipt and responds within three (3) days with a report indicating whether the pair is eligible or whether a creation is possible, the earliest implementation date envisaged and the characteristics of the pair.

An order is considered firm if no cancellation has reached France Télécom within three (3) clear business days after the issuance of a positive report. The operator must have an express authorisation from the holder of the pair to be unbundled on the date on which the intent to order becomes a firm order.

France Télécom executes the order and sends a report to the operator indicating when the unbundling has been implemented.

The operator then receives the unbundled pair.

  • Case 1: existing line
    Transfer of pairs that already support telecommunications services

  • Case 2: line in reserve
    Creation of a pair from existing sections of the network.
    The procedure is the same as for Case 1 with a timeframe of ten (10) days.

  • Case 3: line to be constructed
    Construction of a pair that requires the laying of a new cable or civil engineering work on the network.

Recommendations from the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) for access to the local loop and its operational implementation / 30 October 2000

Annex 3: Co-location initialisation process

On receipt of a first intent to order together with a refundable deposit, France Télécom issues a quote for the construction of a room in standard dimensions as set out below.

This quote is returned 15 days after receipt of the order to the various operators that forwarded an intent to order on the site by indicating the number of operators interested. Once the quote is accepted by one of the operators, France Télécom starts the work and delivers within four (4) months. On delivery, the price for setting up the room oriented towards the corresponding costs is divided by the number of operators who had accepted the order, depending on the number of bays delivered to each operator.

If, at the time of delivery of the room, the amount of requests cannot be met, the escalation procedure set out above is implemented under the authority of ART.

A system has to be designed whereby operators that subsequently enter the room are to refund the operators already in the room.

The dimensions of the room to be built are calculated as follows:

  • In large towns, in general, the room to be built is evaluated on the basis of the addressable market and the size of the distribution frame at around 2m2 for 1,000 pairs. Taking a distribution frame of 50,000 pairs and assuming that the new entrants will take 20% of this market, i.e. 10,000 pairs, since a DSLAM can host around 600 pairs, this leads to a estimate of 17 DSLAMs, i.e. around 20 bays. By taking a large security coefficient, a 100m2 room should be sufficient. However, in some specific cases in high-potential areas such as business districts (e.g. La Défense in Paris), France Télécom could offer larger rooms depending on availability. For small distribution frames, the room should not, however, be smaller than 30 m2.
  • In small and medium-sized towns and rural areas, orders are processed as they come in, after a preliminary collection of operators’ forecasts, especially in urban areas.

Recommendations from the Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications (ART) for access to the local loop and its operational implementation / 30 October 2000

Annex 4: Pooling transmission links

This annex contains a non-exhaustive list of the cases in which it is reasonable in principle to authorise the pooling transmission links for access to the local loop, in case of physical co-location. France Télécom can only justify refusal of such configurations on the grounds of certain specific local constraints.

This annex does not deal with optic cable aspects of connection, which can also be pooled.

1) Transmission links deployed by the operator

Use for unbundling of transmission equipment co-located for interconnection

Deployment of transmission equipment in the co-location room for unbundling

Use for interconnection of transmission equipment deployed in the co-location room for unbundling

2) Transmission links provided by France Télécom

3) Transmission links provided by third parties

Use for unbundling by an operator A of transmission equipment deployed in the co-location room by an operator B

Use for unbundling by an operator A of transmission equipment co-located for interconnection by an operator B present for unbundling in the co-location room.

Use for unbundling by an operator A of transmission equipment co-located for interconnection by an operator B not doing unbundling.

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