Discussion Papers

Patrick Anell, Stephan Jay, Thomas Plückebaum

Next Generation Core Networks: Access, Interconnection and Competition Policy

No. 310 / August 2008

Summary

The migration to Next Generation Networks (NGN) holds complex questions from the fields of Next Generation Access and Next Generation Core. This study analyzes implications on interconnection, access and competition policy in the NGN Core. The structure of the NGN-Architecture is laid out using drafts of key standardisation organisations as reference in order to develop an understanding of the functional relations of the IMS- (IP Multimedia Subsystem) based NGN. This analysis already allows to evaluate potential bottleneck functions in the structure of the NGN-Core.

The study then details the network side of service implementation for VoIP and Videostreaming, highlighting the potential for innovation and conflict of peer-to-peer architectures and the positioning of different types of providers. This allows to develop basic variants for the interaction of players in the NGN and evaluates the relevance of wholesale access and interconnection. In order to make the analysis of critical interfaces and functions more tangible the study develops four scenarios for interconnection of VoIP and Videostreaming respectively. Furthermore the study addresses problems of realising Quality of Service over network boundaries and problems of adequate cost allocation within different strategies for realising Quality of Service.

Conclusions are that the IMS-based NGN has the potential to either make future service provisioning more open and competitive as well as more closed and less competitive. It needs to be monitored how actual relations of market players develop as NGN implementation becomes more concrete. Regulatory authorities need to monitor the identified bottlenecks and interfaces in order to initiate countermeasures if necessary.

However, the relevance of the problems described is heavily dependent on how dominant the IMS-based NGN architecture will actually be in the future and to what degree network operators will become strongly vertically integrated players. In addition, the IMS-based NGN needs to prove itself in the competition with Internet-based or basic QoS enabled services through higher quality and by reaping the willingness of end users to pay for such premium services. In this context it appears crucial to ensure the access to non-discriminating best-effort IP-traffic in order to preserve the potential for innovation of the Internet model.

[only a german version available]

Discussion Paper is available for download.

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