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There is no precise definition of an OPLAN – nor should there ever be one. The use of the term OPLAN is not an attempt to create confusing jargon, but it has been adopted by OpenPlanet and increasingly by others because it so simply and precisely captures the essence of what it is - open : public : local : access : network.

It is now widely accepted that there are three fundamentally discrete ‘horizontal’ components or elements to a modern digital communications network, whether a small home or office network or the internet itself. These three elements differ considerably from each other on a number of criteria, making it commercially risky and uncompetitive to adopt a business model that vertically integrates across all three. This is the current ‘service provider’ model that lies at the heart of the world telecoms and cable industries and which has been sustained by public policy and regulation formulated around an earlier analogue paradigm.


The OPLAN model is primarily concerned with the lowest (passive) element and ensuring that the middle (active) element is outsourced for provisioning to the residential and SME members of the local community, although larger enterprises will appoint their own active network operator. The OPLAN is indifferent and ‘neutral’ to the top level element of content, application and services. Focussing on the passive element, OPLANs may come in a variety of forms and adopt various technologies and governance models. However, there are some distinctive defining characteristics that link them all together, and differentiate them from today's local telecommunications networks. These include:

Further information about all aspects of OPLANs and associated topics can be found on the OPLAN Foundation website. – being the non-profit educational foundation that is closely linked with OpenPlanet.