Commercial Operational and Technical Standards Group

By Alex Jennings    

In July 2009 the Broadband Stakeholder group initiated the ‘Commercial, Operational, and Technical Standards group’ - COTS. This initiative was to develop an efficient standardised approach to enable service providers to offer retail services over local or community-led open networks to end users, with a focus on Next Generation Access. As a result of this initiative consumers and small businesses should be able to access a wide choice of service providers, regardless of how the underlying infrastructure is either provisioned or owned. It should be in the interests of all local or community-led projects to be compliant with this approach.

In order to mitigate the risk of the emergence of disjointed networks which did not support interoperability a degree of standardisation and harmonisation is required at both the technical and process levels. However, any standardisation and harmonisation should not inhibit the scope for grass roots innovation at the local level.

The initial meeting of COTS was well represented a second kick-off was held in Hull, with the work of the group being taken forward by a steering group, with representatives from the following organisations participating:

  • BIS 
  • BSG
  • BT
  • Cable and Wireless Worldwide
  • CBN/INCA later JON and now ONE Exchange
  • Fibrestream
  • Geo Networks
  • H2O Networks
  • IFNL
  • Industria/Quintain
  • KCOM
  • Scottish and Southern Energy/FCS
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk Group 
  • Thales
  • Latterly JON and now ONExchange

From this a sub-group was set up which discussed both the issues of the local networks and a list of generic ISP requirements from a COTS solution, tabled by Sky and TalkTalk. As the group was already working from the common view point that an aggregation provider or clearing house was required the group then heard presentation from CSMG discussing B2B interfaces and the work Ofcom had carried out in this area. The steering group looked at how to take forward the issues concerning multiple B2B interfaces and touched on customer migrations.

COTS is now engaging with BD-UK as a result of this work to co-ordinate an approach towards a statement of requirements, which the group has developed, outlining the key areas which need to be considered to support standardisation, harmonisation and ease of access to the disparate networks as communities and local initiatives develop. Many of the requirements are based on the existing information required to provision customers across networks. However, the issue of migration is from existing networks to fibre and between VLANS with the emergence of more dynamic services has yet to be thought about, with many service providers still expecting to be able to provide ‘more of the same’ in the case of Wholesale Line Rental and Carrier Pre-selection.

The key area that all involved in the process agreed on to support the plethora of products and services both old and new was the need of a single aggregation point.

For notes from most of the meeting