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December 1, 1999
Regulatory, Technology Summit Presents ‘Great Climb’
for CompTel Members
Against the backdrop of Arizona’s dark and towering Supersitition Mountains, nearly
2,000 competitive service providers met to discuss the challenging climb they face to
reach the peak–full and open competition–at the Competitive Telecommunications (CompTel)
Fall Business Conference & Trade Expo in October.
"We face a great climb–locally and globally," CompTel President H. Russell
Frisby warned his members in his opening remarks.
While Phoenix’s Biltmore Resort cannot qualify as roughing it, the cowboy spirit
embodied in the week’s events, which included a rodeo and a Bruce Hornsby concert,
certainly were appropriate for this roll-up-your-sleeves crowd.
In her keynote address, Larissa Herda, president and chief executive officer of Time
Warner Telecom Inc., Englewood, Colo., challenged the Bell companies to "stop whining
and start abiding by the strictures of the Telecommunications Act."
Herda’s challenged echoed positively among the audience of competitive services
providers and vendors that attended CompTel’s first fall trade expo, which featured more
than 50 exhibitors.
She called on policymakers to support and preserve the pro-competitive tenets of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, noting that the Bell companies’ efforts to win approval
for their Section 271 applications to offer in-region long distance services are
premature. "We would be more than happy to support Bell Atlantic and any ILEC
(incumbent local exchange carrier) to enter the long distance market if they would allow
us to compete on a level playing field for local service. But the truth of the matter is
the ILECs have still failed to deliver true competition and therefore are not ready to
enter the long distance market," she said.
Keynote speaker Alex Mandl, chairman and CEO of Teligent Inc., Vienna, Va., also
identified the last-mile bottleneck as a major impediment to telephony’s future. "The
full potential of the Internet cannot be realized until that question is resolved,"
Both these leaders’ comments focused sharply on CompTel’s stated goals for the coming
months as outlined by President Frisby in his opening remarks. The No. 1 challenge for
CompTel’s members, he said, is to break up the last-mile broadband bottleneck. "We
will never succeed if we give the Bells free access to long distance data services,"
he said, commenting on the ongoing debate about allowing Bells to offer high-speed long
distance data services within their regions.
Second, Frisby said competitors must secure true competitive local access, including
access to buildings, recombined unbundled network elements (UNEs), operations support
systems (OSSs) and extended links.
Third, he called for enforcement of the Telecom Act, and specifically for standards
that would allow for competitors to provide quality service to consumers. Fourth, Frisby
identified a "new peak" for the association to climb in seeking open access to
international markets. Last, he said, CompTel must convince policymakers that their roles
must change to keep pace with changes in technology and markets.
While many of Frisby’s concerns centered on overcoming regulatory hurdles, the theme of
the group’s conference was "Conquering the Technology Summit."
Citing the accelerating pace of technological innovation–ranging from Internet
protocol (IP) switching to dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM), Time Warner’s Herda
urged her competitive LEC (CLEC) peers to evaluate and deploy these new technologies as
they migrate from the circuit-switched world to packet-switching environments.
"Our plan is to migrate our networks to IP technologies and to deploy IP switches
to replace our circuit switches. This will not happen overnight. We expect our network to
be a hybrid in the short term, but then migrate quickly to an all-packet data
network," she explained. "As we migrate from the TDM (time division
multiplexing) world to the packet world, we are also increasing bandwidth by deploying
DWDM systems in our regional networks and for our large bandwidth-eating customers on a
For his part, Mandl advocated a strategy that, not suprisingly, follows that of his own
company–to use a combination of fiber and fixed wireless technologies to serve the
business markets. "Three percent of all buildings are connected to fiber. That
reaches 33 percent of business lines," he said. "Fixed wireless addresses the
market where fiber is not."
Alex Mandl, chairman and CEO of Teligent, delivered the keynote address Oct. 4.
Larissa Herda, president and CEO of Time Warner Telecom, addresses the
The show floor was bustling as conference attendees checked out the latest information
Companies including MCI WorldCom Inc. took advantage of the exhibition
McLeod USA’s football-themed booth included employees dressed as players and as
In the spirit of the old west, cowboys and vaqueros took to the ring for an authentic
Read more about:Agents
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