Collocation is running out in some telco central offices

Numerous companies are so busy building out new spaces to collocate service-provider gear for fast-growing IP services that it's easy to forget that collocation began in good old-fashioned telco central offices.

That's where competitive service providers who need access to the full incumbent telco local loops can place their telephony switches, DSL concentrators, Internet offload products and other gear.

This kind of collocation is a clear and settled requirement of modern-day telecom law, even if federal authorities now allow the big telcos to avoid renting out their own DSLAM ports to competitors. But all is not well in traditional collocation land.

In a little-noticed order last week, the Federal Communications Commission fined mega-Bell SBC Communications $94,500 for failing to update its required public notice identifying those SBC offices that have run out of collocation.

The FCC requires SBC to update its Web site listing COs that are out of room "within 10 days of the date at which a premises runs out of physical collocation space." The FCC said SBC's transgression was "willful and repeated." In a footnote it said it could not actually state the number of times that SBC has done this, or the places where it occurred (though the order covers all 13 of SBC's states, including Pacific Bell and Ameritech). The agency is still evaluating a request for confidential treatment of certain SBC documents related to the matter, so we may or may not be able to report more specifics later.

But one thing is clear: The FCC has this requirement not only to make sure that Bell companies live up to their collocation obligations, but to create a disclosure channel that will help competitors avoid wasting their time. In particularly peeved language against SBC for its collocation shortage, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief David Solomon wrote:

"In several of these instances, a competitive local exchange carrier may have been required to submit a collocation application, only to have the application denied on the ground that no space was available as of the time of the application . . . This is the very result that . . . the Commission's rules were designed to avoid."

The fine is not going to break SBC, of course, and I'm sure some critics will question whether it will even get the company's attention. But it does fall into a pattern of fines for a variety of service and disclosure issues that have been plaguing SBC, especially since its takeover of Ameritech, all of which we have been following closely in Network World's print edition.

Obviously we'll be keeping an eye on this latest development, and if you have any experience with this kind of issue in any Bell region, drop me a note.

This story, "Collocation is running out in some telco central offices" was originally published by Network World.

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