Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Do I need an ISP

I used to know what an ISP was for. They took your modem signal via the phone network, converted it back into TCP/IP data and passed it onto the internet :-

In the hopefully near future, Next Generation Access (NGA) will give me a TCP/IP connection over fibre optic (or xDSL, WiMAX, LTE, EFM or whatever) from a local network provider. If they provided transit to the internet it would be job done :-

This latter scenario is very similar to Virgin's cable broadband or to LLU ADSL, where vertically integrated providers take data from a local point directly to the internet. The prevailing "wholesale" model and the much talked about (but seldom existing) "open access" network doesn't allow the local network operator to provide internet connectivity but forces them to route traffic via an ISP in order to foster competition. The competition is mainly in price and add-on services as the local connectivity is fixed :-

Notice how in this case we have two entities or networks passing data from the local exchange equipment to the internet. This is purely for regulation and competition reasons. I may be using no services at all from the ISP, other than getting my data out onto the Internet. If the telco were allowed to do this directly I would not need the ISP.

ISPs can of course offer a range of other services beyond connectivity however I generally source these from the internet or "The Cloud" in order to be independent of connectivity provider and location. My 3G Android smartphone operates using cloud based services with the network operator (Vodafone) providing local access and internet connectivity only.

Given the track record of networks like Neuenen, Ashby, S. Yorks Digital Region, Fibrecity etc etc in attracting credible and known retail ISPs I really do wonder if there is any merit in insisting on open access or wholesaling arrangements. Do they not add complexity both in networking and business process terms rather than providing a simple one shop supplier of access to the internet from my home ?

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