More about “unbundling”

In the previous post I refer to the PhoneGnome platform as “unbundling” at the edge. Not everyone is familiar with the telco language of “unbundling” so permit me to elaborate on what I mean by that.

Traditional “unbundling” in the telco world separates “access” from higher-level “services”. In particular, I’m speaking of what is known as “Local loop unbundling” (LLU) for the most part. In the US this is mostly dead. The ILECS do not want to permit any third-party to use their local loops. In other parts of the world, LLU is making progress (usually mandated). It means customers “rent” the “wire” from one company, and then pick the services they want on it from whatever providers they want. Customers can get “phone” service from one vendor, “Internet” from another etc.

In the case of the PhoneGnome CPE, it connects between the phone (user) and wall jack (telco), like an answering machine, and in so doing it mediates activity on those two interfaces (user and telco) with the important third connection the CPE makes, to the Internet. PhoneGnome mediates these three connections to achieve the “unbundling”.

In practical terms, this “unbundling” goes beyond LLU and means that the customer can now choose the service providers they wish for all telephony “services” beyond basic access. The “application stack” diagram in the previous post illustrates this. In the diagram, at the bottom of the application stack is “Access”. What is included in that is local calling, 911, and other local services (provided by the local telco link). Customers get that “access” level from their local telco. They can then choose whatever provider they want for everything above that in the stack.

So customers can get services like 3-way calling and other “CLASS” features (labled “Calling features” on the diagram) without those services required on their local service anymore. They can use cheap (in some cases free) VoIP-based providers for long-distance and/or international calls (labled “Minutes” on the diagram). They can choose the voicemail service they want from providers other than the local telephone service. They can activate next-generation features, from the third-party providers of their choice, like iotum intelligent call screening, find-me forwarding, and all these “upstart” players that will create all the Ebays, Googles, MySpaces of telephony long before the monolithic telcos or cablecos will (the “Advanced Features” and “IP convergence” layers of the diagram). And finally customer can get fixed/mobile convergence features, independent of their wireless and wire-line carrier (“FMC” on the diagram). And all these third-party services are seamlessy integrated with the “local access” to create a single integrated experience.

It should be noted that in the PhoneGnome “unbundling” case, that “Access” level does not need to be a tradiitonal telephone line. PhoneGnome can also be used to “unbundle” VoIP (broadband phone) services or phone service provided by Cable providers. There are real customers doing just that today to “open” their closed VoIP or Cable phone service to add features they cannot get from their telco/Cable provider (like remote access, fixed/mobile convergence, Web integration, IP/PBX integration, etc.)

The PhoneGnome platform effectively provides “Local loop unbundling” for any fixed-line, anywhere, independent of the LLU regulations in place, with the simple inclusion of an inexpensive self-install CPE, rather than negotiating with the incumbent telco and regulators. So a service provider with a killer telephony app, can now deploy it to any fixed-line subscriber by including the PhoneGnome CPE as part of the package to enable the service.