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The ICASA LLU RFC (Request for Comment)

In September of 2007 Dr Ivy Mastepe-Cassaburi, then the Minister of Communications, laid down a policy [1] and timeline for South African telecommunications suppliers to implement LLU. With this directive ICASA have begun the process of defining the standards for the implementation of LLU. On Monday the 22nd of June a Government Gazzette was released [2] opening up the discussion of LLU. A meeting was held where ISPs and ICASA discussed the document [3].

Why Unbundle?

Before discussing the technical details of an LLU implementation ICASA went through the affects of introducing LLU. This can be summarised as:

  • Ability for new suppliers to exist.
  • More choice for consumers.
  • More competition leads to reduction in price and/or better (premium) products.
The document then goes on to discuss the implications of such a strategy for any encumbent in this space. One salient point was that LLU would lead to a new revenue stream for any infrastructure supplier.

How should S.A. unbundle?

The final and most contentious section of the document [4] was concerned with the mechanism that should be employed to roll out LLU. Four techniques were discussed:

  1. Bitstream Access
    • Supplier retains control of equipment in exchange
    • Supplier then hands control of ADSL line after backhaul
  2. Line Sharing
    • Supplier retains control of PSTN (phone) frequencies.
    • LLU Operator has a DSLAM in exchange to provide ADSL.
  3. Full Loop Unbundling
    • LLU Operator has full control of the connection point.
    • LLU Operator would provide PSTN services as well as ADSL.
  4. Sub Loop Unbundling
    • Similar to Full Loop Unbundling but with the ability to add hardware into the cabinet.
    • Necessary for provding services such as VDSL.

In the view of this document represents a noticeable step towards the rollout of LLU in South Africa. The above options for LLU implementation have a number of pros and cons. It is our hope that the reasons behind the LLU implementation choice will be open. It is our hope that the introduction of LLU into the South African connectivity environment will lead to a more transparent provisioning service and improved consumer offerings.

- The Team

[1] LLU policy mandate by Dr Ivy Mastepe-Cassaburi in 2007
[2] LLU Overview on
[2] Discussion Document on Local Loop Unbundling
[3] Coverage of LLU Discussion
[4] Page 17 of [2]
[5] Bitstream vs. full unbundling

Posted 2011-07-05 12:06:42 by Ian Saunders
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