unbundling of phone services

Matthew S. Hamrick mhamrick at cryptonomicon.net
Wed Jun 13 00:50:40 CEST 2007

A Mobile LLU (Local Loop Unbundling) system would be slightly  
different that an MVNO. MVNO's mostly differentiate themselves on  
branding instead of services. LLU is what you get when you force  
ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) to allow third parties to  
connect to the local loop (the wire running from the carrier's  
central office to the customer premises.) The mobile equivalent would  
be to force the wireless network operators to provide "value add"  
third parties with rack space in mobile base-stations or like UNE/P  
an ATM interface to data, video or voice data from the handset  
without passing it through the carrier's network. Some of the  
services you could expect from such a setup would be:

a. you could pick your long distance company for your mobile phone  
the same way you pick your long distance company for your wireline  
(at least in the US.) But since virtually all mobile plans now  
include free long distance calling, the only time this would be  
interesting is if you did a lot of international calling.

b. enhanced 411 service. I'm on t-mobile, and their 411 service  
totally, absolutely, completely blows. It should be straight-forward  
with LLU to, on a per-subscriber basis, route 411 calls to non- 
sucktastic competitors.

c. Mobile to Skype interface.

d. MMC (Mobile to Mobile Convergence) - In theory, if I was able to  
put one of my boxes on the SS7 network managed by the carrier, I  
could advertise a SIP like service that would let me do UMA-like  
handoff between my home / office WiFi network and the cell network.

Such services tend to give the carriers fits, so you're unlikely to  
see anything like this in the near future. Well... not from the  
established carriers anyway. They wound up overpaying for spectrum  
back in the 90's and are still looking for ways to amortize that cost.

MVNOs on the other hand, essentially resell the mobile services  
provided by an established carrier, but use their own billing systems  
and marketing channels.

-Matt H.

On Jun 12, 2007, at 2:54 PM, Joe Friedrichsen wrote:

> On 6/12/07, Robin Paulson <robin.paulson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> so my question is:
>> is there a similar movement anywhere for the equivalent of LLU for
>> mobile phone networks? i.e. allowing other operators to use networks
>> of vodafone/state-owned telco/sprint/whoever at reasonable price?  
>> most
>> countries don't have monopolies providing mobile services (even nz  
>> has
>> 2 providers), but they still act as though they are monoplies,
>> providing (in my experience) vastly overpriced, very limited services
> If I understood you correctly, there is something like this in the US.
> These mobile carriers are called MVNOs (Mobile virtual network
> operators -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MVNO ). There are a number
> of options for service from MVNOs, but it's nearly all prepaid. The
> MVNOs in the US were reviewed by C-Net, and you can read about it
> here: http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-3504_7-6260217-5.html?tag=arw .
> It definitely feels like you're making a deal with devil when you sign
> up for any kind of mobile service anywhere. I just bought a T-Mobile
> prepaid phone, but I haven't used a US carrier yet so I'm not sure
> what to expect. My best experience so far was with Vodafone in Japan,
> but when I was in Australia, Optus wasn't too bad.
> Joe
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