BT's patent spat with US company ASSIA will start to be noticed by customers, with the carrier reportedly shutting down boxes that provide rate adaptation after it lost a crucial round of legal action.
In December 2013, Britain's High Court ruled that BT had infringed ASSIA patents by developing DSL management platforms referred to as “RAMbo” (Rate Adaptive Management Box). BT lost its appeal on November 14 (for example, there's a Lightwave report here).
Rather than cut a licensing deal with ASSIA, and faced with penalties of £250,000 per week if it continued running the system, El Reg has been told that BT began shutting down the boxes on November 21.
ASSIA is now taking its side of the battle to the media, saying that by withdrawing dynamic line management from its UK DSL network, the carrier is harming customers' service levels and speeds.
In an e-mail to The Register, ASSIA claims that disabling the line management “will lead to a degradation of service on a number of BT Infinity lines, and that the longer NGA-DLM is disabled, the higher the percentage of lines that will experience performance degradation.”
While ASSIA focuses on development rather than manufacturing, it's not a predatory non-practising entity: its founders include broadband pioneer John Cioffi, and for some time employed University of Melbourne's Dr John Papandriopoulos on the basis of his work on dynamic line management.
BT declined to comment on ASSIA's claims. ®
Bootnote: ASSIA has taken exception to our reference to NPEs and sent the following remarks:
The final sentence of the above-referenced article implies that ASSIA is a non-practicing-entity or patent troll (the sentence begins by stating "While ASSIA focuses on development rather than manufacturing, it's not your usual non-practising entity"). The implication is incorrect. ASSIA practices its own inventions in its OSS products that today manage approximately eighty million lines of DSL worldwide.
Some research will reveal that the company does not make a business of asserting its patents against others." ®