Open Access Networks

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"Open Access Networks present a layered model in which different service providers can share the same infrastructure. The participating entities agree in a set of rules that govern their collaboration. In a basic model, a neutral opera- tor takes care of the infrastructure. Then, multiple service providers offer a multiplicity of services such as TV, telephone and Internet access over the shared open access network. The service providers use a share of their incomes to pay to the network operator for the common infrastructure.

This model represents savings for the service providers, as they can reach a large number of customers without incurring in costly infrastructure deployment. Furthermore, it lowers the entry barrier for new service providers and fosters competition and innovation. The users have a larger number of options to choose from and select the service providers that better adapt to their needs. As it is easy for an user to switch from one service provider to another, the service providers have a good incentive to keep their customers happy. Happy customers spend more money on communication services which is, in turn, beneficial for the service providers.

In this model, the final users, house owners, the City Hall or other organizations may have interest in collaborating in the extension of the access network. A single investment in a neighborhood will provide the citizen with a diverse offering of services. Forzati et al. report that 95% of the municipality networks in Sweden operate according open access network models.

The neutral operator is in a privileged position as it owns the network that all the others ISPs need to use. Consequently, it is recommended that the neutral operator is a for benefit (not for profit) organization. The neutral operator should not be allowed to offer services to the final user, and should treat all service providers equally, following some agreed rules [1]. The service providers still operate under a market competition logic. Nevertheless, in spite of being competitors, the service providers need to collaborate to maintain the neutral operator." (( )

More Information

  • Article: Bottom-up Broadband: the Open Source Spirit in Networking Initiatives. [1]
  • M. Forzati, C. P. Larsen, and C. Mattson, “Open access networks, the Swedish experience,” in International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks (ICTON), Munich, Germany, 2010.
  • M. Oliver, J. Zuidweg, and M. Batikas, “Wireless Commons Against the Digital Divide,” in IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society ISTAS, New South Wales, Australia, 06 2010.