Concentration of about 50 galaxies to which the Milky Way Galaxy belongs. Nearly one-third are dwarf elliptical galaxies, but the six largest are spiral or irregular galaxies. They are probably kept from separating by mutual gravitational attraction. The Milky Way system is near one end of the group; the great Andromeda Galaxy is near the other end, about two million light-years away.
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New entrants, on the other hand, argue that since they cannot economically duplicate the incumbent's local loop, they cannot actually provide certain services, such as ADSL without LLU, thus allowing the incumbent to monopolise the respective potentially competitive market(s) and stifle innovation. They point out that alternative access technologies, such as Wireless local loop (WLL) have proven uncompetitive and/or impractical, and that under current pricing models, the incumbent is (in many cases depending on the regulatory model) guaranteed a fair price for the use of his facilities, including an appropriate return on investment. Finally, they argue that the ILECs generally did not construct their local loop in a competitive, risky, market environment, but under legal monopoly protection and using ratepayers (or possibly taxpayer's) money, which means - according to the new entrants - that ILECs ought not to be entitled to continue to extract regulated rates of return which may include monopoloy rents from the local loop.
Most developed nations, including the USA, Australia and the European Union Member States, have introduced regulatory frameworks providing for LLU. Given the above-mentioned problems, regulators face the challenging task of regulating a market that is changing very rapidly, without stifling any type of innovation, and without improperly disadvantaging any competitor.
The process has been long - the first action in the EU resulted from a report written for the European Commission in 1993. It took several years for the EU legislation to require unbundling and then in individual EU countries the process took further time to mature to become practical and economic rather than simply being a legal possibility.
The 1993 report referred to the logical requirement to unbundle optical fibre access but recommended deferral to a later date when fibre access had become more common. In 2006 there were the first signs that (as a result of the municipal fibre networks movement and example such as Sweden where unbundled local loop fibre is commercially available from both the incumbent and competitors) policy may yet evolve in this direction.
The question has not been settled before a WTO judicial body, and, at any rate, these obligations only apply where the respective WTO Member has committed itself to open its basic telecommunications market to competition. About 80 (mostly developed) Members have done so since 1998.
European States that have been approved for membership to the EU have an obligation to introduce LLU as part of the liberalisation of their communications sector.
By June 2006, AOL UK had unbundled 100,000 lines through its £120 million investment, making it the largest single LLU operator in the UK market.
On 10 October 2006, Carphone Warehouse announced the purchase of AOL UK, the leading LLU operator, for £370m. This makes Carphone Warehouse the 3rd largest broadband provider and the largest LLU Operator with more than 150,000 LLU customers.
The latest LLU status of individual exchanges in the UK can be checked on www.samknows.com
Most LLU operators only unbundle the broadband service leaving the traditional telephone service using BT's core equipment (with or without the provision of Carrier preselect). Where the traditional telephone service is also unbundled (full LLU), operators usually prohibit the facility where selected calls can be made using the networks of other telephone providers (i.e. accessed using a 4 or 5 digit prefix beginning with '1'). These calls can usually still be made by using a 0800 or other non-geographic (NGN) access code.
On the 3rd of May 2006 the New Zealand Government announced it would require the unbundling of the local loop. This was in response to concerns about the low levels of broadband uptake. Regulatory action such as information disclosure, accounting separation of Telecom New Zealand business operations, and enhanced Commerce Commission monitoring was also announced.
The newly separated network division will be known as Chorus from 31 March 2008.
On Thursday 9 August 2007, Telecom released the keys to two exchanges - in Glenfield and Ponsonby. Ihug announced that they will be releasing 24 megabits per second broadband for $29.95 in these areas.
In March 2008, Orcon activated ADSL 2+ services from five Auckland-based exchanges - Glenfield, Browns Bay, Ellerslie, Mt Albert and Ponsonby - with further plans for the rest of Auckland and other major centres.
Unbundling requests tend to be tied up before the courts, however, because unlike in the EU, Swiss law does not provide for an ex ante regulation of access conditions by the regulator. Instead, under the Swiss ex post regulation system, each new entrant must first try to reach an individual agreement with Swisscom, the state-owned ILEC.
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