In business, open communication (or open access to communication resources) is the ability of anyone, on equal conditions with a transparent relation between cost and pricing, to get access to and share communication resources on one level to provide value added services on another level in a layered communication system architecture. Simply put, Open access plans are to deregulate oligarchy of telecom operators in a bid to give consumers more choices for equipment, services and service vendors or carriers. It will also provide some breathing room for the controversial Net neutrality that has been the central issue between mobile carriers, like AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Nextel, and web media moguls, like eBay, Amazon.com and Google.
The concept of Open Access to Communication Resources is central in the ongoing transformation of the communication market from a "vertically integrated" market with a few operators owning and operating everything between the physical medium and the end-user, to an "open horizontal market" with an abundance of actors operating on different levels and providing value added services on top of each other.
Open Access is also a broad approach to policy and regulatory issues that starts from the question: what do we want to bring about outside of purely industry sector concerns? It places an emphasis on:
- empowering citizens
- encouraging local innovation, economic growth and investment
- getting the best from public and private sector contributions.
It is not simply about making micro-adjustments to the technical rules of the policy and regulatory framework but seeking to produce fundamental changes in the outcomes that can be delivered through it. Since the advent of World Wide Web (WWW) in the early 1990s, the greatest advantage the web culture has brought about through dot-com boom-and-bust cycles is decentralization that has created more user-centric society, embracing diversity, practicality, voluntarism and egalitarianism in every field across the planet.
Layers in Data Communication System Architecture
- Physical passive infrastructure: right of way, ducts, fibre cables, fibre core terminated in an optical distribution frame with patch panels. Actors on this level includes real estate owners, both public and private, other infrastructure actors, such as power utility companies, railway companies, pipeline companies (water, gas, oil, etc.). Several fibre owners lease dark fibre to operators or end-users.
- Optical transmission including wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) providing several communication channels in the same fibre core. Fibre owners sometimes provide wavelengths rather than dark fibre, sometimes both.
- Link level: includes a variety of link level services for Local Area Network LAN, Metropolitan Area Network MAN and Wide Area Network WAN implemented by switches, etc. Operators on this level include "service operator-neutral" network operators.
- Network level (IP), including unicast, multicast, anycast. Operators on this level include Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
- End-to-end transport level, including connection-oriented Transfer Control Protocol (TCP) and datagram (UDP). Commercial services on this level are rare.
- Services including session, presentation and application functionality, such as email (SMTP, POP, IMAP), web services (HTTP), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), terminal access (TELNET), etc. Typical commercial actors on this level include Internet Cafes.
- Open Access Models: Options for Improving Backbone Access in Developing Countries -with a Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (Report by Spintrack Consulting (funded by Infodev) on Open Access Models )
- OECD's Competition Law and Policy Committee recommends structural separation for increased competition in public utilities Recommendation of the Council concerning Structural Separation in Regulated Industries
- FCC Majority Backs Open-Access Plan for Airwaves
- Google's battle for wireless spectrum
- FCC approves rules for airwaves sale
- Non-Profit Foundation promoting the concept of Open Public Local Access Networks