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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2003


Good followup links on OSMINE and the Bells

A few days ago, I posted a note commenting on a Light Reading story ("Will RBOCs Undermine Osmine?") about the Bells' unhappy reliance on legacy Telcordia software to run their networks (and in many ways, their lives). Since then, several OSMINE veterans have posted responses to the story that give good insights into just how embedded, important and obstructive this software is:

"OSMINE: The necessary evil"
"As far as the former RBOCs finding a new management platform - GOOD LUCK! I have worked for 2 former RBOCs and on specific projects to "replace" Telcordia OSS. Both failed to meet their objective."

They Have No (1)"

Re: They Have No (2)"
"Everyone knows about the screws that Telcordia puts to the vendor community through OSMINE. What they don't know is that the screws put to the RBOCs are often times even more painful, in terms of exorbitant costs for simple patch releases, sky-high training bills, terrible & late documentations, etc."

Re: They Have No (3)"
"But do you want to know the real culrit in making OSMINE painful? This same culprit will eventually cause OSMINE and Telcordia to collapse. The culprit is without a doubt Telcordia's management ... Telcordia management functions like a monopoly, because it is, but they refuse to believe that anything will ever shake them."

Re: They Have No (5)"
"OSMINE was designed in the late 1970's, implemented throughout the 80's in technologies that still include the likes of COBOL. It is over 10 Million lines of code which even Telcordia isn't completely sure of. They wrote the spec and the product, have charged billions of dollars in consulting to startups and others to make custom changes and there is absolutely no hope of finding anyone else who would want to touch it."

Why should those of us outside the Bell world care about OSMINE and Telcordia?
Understanding the stranglehold the Bells' Telcordia software has on them is critical to understanding a lot of other questions, such as:
  • Which FTTP (fiber to the premises) vendors are likely to win the Bells' business? (This will, in turn, have a big impact on the entire FTTP market, including municipal broadband providers.)

  • Why are the Bells obsessed with passive optical networking architecture instead of active architectures for FTTP? (Because every device in the field that has power, including power supplies, has to fit into the OSMINE system. Passive components and the fiber cable itself don't.)

  • How rapidly the Bells can adopt new technology and deploy it? (Not very fast.)

  • How effectively can the Bells restructure themselves? (Not very easily.)

  • Why aren't the Bells doing more in my town to provide service? (Because they have their hands full with OSMINE and their bigger customers in bigger towns.)

  • And a bonus question: will the Bells effectively and rapidly offer lots of new services to compete with the cable TV companies -- things like digital cable and video on demand? (Extra credit for answering this one yourself; hint -- does it have to integrate with their Telcordia software?)

The good news is that municipal and other independent broadband network builders won't have to fool with OSMINE -- nobody outside the Bells uses this Telcordia software.


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