Ofcom has subcontracted to the NICC network standards body the development of a wholesale broadband 'API', the Active Lines Access (ALA) standard.
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The idea is that a broadband network provider such as Openreach or Cable & Wireless will be able to provide an ALA-compliant interface that will allow smaller, possibly community-based network operators, to connect to the nation's big high speed networks.
This will help overcome the crucial problem of negligible access to backhaul that effectively cuts off community networks from the mainstream.
It should also theoretically allow community networks to shop around between different backhaul providers, and to swap between them if one proves unsatisfactory. This will in effect 'unbundle' broadband in the same way that telephone services have been divided between service supplier and physical supplier.
Aiming to capitalise on this is the JON exchange, which aims to provide a clearing house for broadband connections across Europe at the network level. Adrian Wooster, CTO of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), will head the UK branch.
The NICC is also working on standards for broadband telephony that will allow normal telephone-like services over a next generation network, as well as number portability and access to emergency services.
The NICC is expected to publish details of the ALA standard before year-end.
The Institution of Engineering & Technology has a long article on ALA here.