The sale of a incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) aka the local telephone company can be much more complicated than one might think, ordinary folks anyway. Networking & IT professionals most likely have a different viewpoint as migrations are a fundamental part of the IT field. Such a transaction becomes more complicated when triple play services are included, even more so when such triple play services are based on TCP/IP.
The sale of the Southern New England Telephone (SNET) Company by AT&T to Frontier Communications. Southern New England Telephone is the operating company which services the entire state of Connecticut as well as being the oldest & first telephone exchange operator. SNET was acquired by SBC Communications (AT&T) in 1998. While most folks are aware of AT&T due to it’s scale & vast services offered-mostly namely the mobility services, the name Frontier is not familiar to most folks residing outside of their service territories. The product set of these carriers is drastically different.
A majority of Frontier’s operating markets are developing, with broadband speeds offered by Frontier on the lower end of the broadband bandwidth spectrum (1 to 15 mbps). The exception to this is Frontier’s FIOS markets which it acquired from Verizon in 2010. The Fiber to the Home architecture design for this product set offered in these markets is licensed to Frontier by Verizon, in comparison to the architecture of Frontier’s other products in their markets (DSL, Metro Ethernet, Traditional telecom circuits), the architecture of which is based on a more open model of traditional buildout based on the commonly accepted telecom guidelines.
The Southern New England Telephone service territory is a triple play market. Under the ownership of AT&T/SBC SNET offered AT&T’s U-verse line of services. The SNET physical plant was built out to provide these services, with physical cabling upgrades & repairs done to modernize cable conditions as well as the installation of networking equipment to provide the services, mostly namely the pole hung VRAD(video ready access device) cabinets AT&T uses to act as a remote vdsl DSLAM for the remote gateways (the central point of connectivity for all services & set-top boxes) installed in customer homes & businesses with the VRAD acting as an access ethernet switch of sorts.
The central offices in the territory were also one by one outfitted to provide such services with the installation of routing & switching equipment to form a ring distribution network as well as a backbone network to carry traffic between central offices. In Connecticut the triple play services originate from one particular location (IP Video Hub office), where the connectivity to the AT&T national backbone happens. The network functions allowing the network to function in the manner it does(Authentication, DHCP, DNS,Management, Video hosting among others) were distributively hosted at this location & others similar to it in other AT&T service territories.
As part of Frontier’s U-verse transition plans, they planned to integrate this system with the existing FIOS network the operate for their FIOS services offered in other markets. The basic network technology for U-Verse triple play services are licensed from AT&T. The Video component of the triple play offering is distributed by the existing FIOS Video distribution network. The voice component’s plan is similar. The transition of these triple play services did not go without hitch. The migration of the core services itself went rather well but not all of the customer premise devices operated smoothly. The issues on the CPE side were along the lines of CPE equipment not plugged in when new firmware was rolling out, therefore not the CPE did not get the update & at a later date when it was plugged in it was no longer compatible with the U-Verse infrastructure due to the fact it did not have up to date firmware. Presumably this was due to 802.1x changes, the authentication method deployed by U-Verse to authenticate the CPE home gateways.
This caused a backlash against the company by the media & many in the community.
(to be continued)