OTA Update for November 2007


There are now 3.552 million unbundled LLU lines and the indications are that demand is still strong in the near term, although as we reported last month several market forecasts are predicting a flattening of the trend for new lines in the medium term.

The result of any reduction in demand for new LLU lines is likely to be an increase in churn as customers seek better deals. Therefore we continue to focus much of our activity on improvements to provision, repair and migration services from Openreach and Industry which, as will be seen from the more detailed updates below, are continuing to show improvement but are still tracking below the agreed target performance levels.

In order to reflect the growing maturity of the competitive marketplace, and indeed as a result of the improving trend in Openreach performance across many of the areas we measure, we are taking the opportunity to review and, in some cases, simplify the performance charts we publish each month to better reflect either their purpose or to give greater clarity of the data within, the new versions will be available within our December report which we publish in early January.

The subject of Migrations, whereby customers move from one supplier to another, or move home and need to cease and re-provide a service, has been covered widely in the press in the last month. The coverage has been from both a commercial and process perspective and, as the commercial aspects are outside of our remit, OTA2 have been working with Openreach and the CP’s on improvements to processes. Although it has taken some time to get sufficient attention to this very important subject, we are now encouraged by the commitment to this from all stakeholders and as a result of the work done so far we have seen a reduction of 48% in the number of TAG related calls to the BT helpdesk in the last seven weeks. This is a measure which indicates possible end user frustration reflected by people calling the helpdesk to seek help or complain about difficulties in migrating between suppliers or moving home. Unfortunately this improvement has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the number of MAC related calls, although in absolute terms the volume of such calls is appreciably lower than Tag related calls (by factor of 50). We are working with Ofcom to understand the sources of these calls and will take the necessary actions with the offending CP’s.

There are 4.48 million WLR lines and 5.82 million telephone numbers using CPS.

We have been frustrated and disappointed this month by the news from Openreach that the delivery of agreed features to the WLR3 product has slipped significantly. These features are required because Industry believes that the WLR3 product as available today falls short of the capability offered by WLR2. We therefore worked with Openreach and CP’s to agree a level of functionality that would be required to reach a ‘baseline’ position, and in July we agreed a plan with Openreach and the CP’s that would see delivery of the required functionality over several software builds, but with the urgent functionality being delivered in two releases scheduled for January and April 2008.

Openreach have recently informed us that they are unable to meet the plan and we are currently awaiting confirmation of their proposed new timetable, although it is clear that this represents a substantial delay to the product being available to CP’s in a form that they consider useful for their businesses.

We welcome the Openreach initiative to fully review the Openreach Product Development process and focus even more on delivering their customer’s requirements.

Service Level Agreement/Service Level Guarantees Review:

Ofcom have completed their formal review of SLA/SLG components within existing contracts for LLU, WLR and Ethernet products and we understand they are to publish their proposals on 10th December 2007.

LLU Integrated Improvement Plan: Openreach continue to update the OTA2 Executive in respect of actual service levels achieved versus the staircase targets contained within the plan. All elements of the plan appear to be remaining on track except for MPF repair which, although improving, continues to remain short of the agreed staircase targets.

In addition to the LLU Integrated Improvement Plan, Openreach have given the OTA2 an initial input of targets and ambitions for the development of a separate WLR plan, although we still await the accompanying narrative that will put these targets into perspective.

The initiatives within these plans must deliver the step improvements needed to achieve & sustain the ultimate target levels (i.e. 98% & 95% for Provision & Repair respectively) as a minimum if we are to ensure that customers view the competitive broadband marketplace as effective and efficient.

The combined (MPF/SMPF) LLU Right First Time delivery of business as usual (BAU) unbundled lines continues to improve each month & is now virtually on target (97% vs 98% target). This metric represents an ‘industry aggregate’ view of SMPF/MPF delivery performance & is derived from data feeds collected directly from CPs.

Migrations Programme Board (MPB): As mentioned earlier, the Headline Migrations KPI is now tracking an improving trend. This is largely attributable to a welcome reduction in Tag related calls from Service Provider call centre agents (and end-users), into the BT Wholesale Tags help desk. The same chart does however show a sharp increase in the number of calls to the Ofcom helpdesk, albeit at much lower volumes. As described earlier, investigation shows this increase to be largely attributable to MAC related queries and we are investigating further. Over the next 2-3 months, a number of key EMP developments are planned to be delivered by Openreach which, in addition to CP-specific improvements, will drive further significant reductions in Migration related issues associated with end-users seeking to switch suppliers and/or move home.

LLU Bulk Migrations: As anticipated, the weekly Bulk & Mass Migration throughput volumes have dropped significantly in recent weeks but this has coincided with a 10% drop in performance over the last 2 weeks and is the subject of further investigation

LLU Comingling & Backhaul delivery continues to perform satisfactorily, although weekly volumes remain quite low.

WLR: Provisioning performance remains below targets and shows only very slight signs of improvement, whilst repair performance continues to run substantially below the required level with no sign of an improving trend. As we develop the Openreach ‘Integrated Plan’ for WLR this is an area which will require close attention.

EMP: In-Life Availability performance has continued to remain stable.

With most CPs now on-ramped to EMP, the industry community continues to work very closely with the Openreach team to further refine the EMP upgrade processes to ensure CPs can adopt new functionality as soon as possible with a minimum of downtime.

The few remaining CPs not already on-ramped to EMP are now well advanced in their Pilot testing phase and remain on-track to be fully on-ramped by end Jan’08 or sooner. OTA2 continue to ‘sit-in’ on the regular Bilateral reviews (i.e. CP/OR) to assist as necessary.

First Touch Last Touch (FTLT) Provisioning: All areas of mainstream provisioning performance are showing encouraging signs of improvement.

An SOR aimed at ‘industrialising’ the MPF processes has been produced and we have now received an acceptable response from Openreach which effectively provides a formal commitment (including staircase targets) to achieve the industry agreed targets (Provision-98%, Repair-95%). Progress is being monitored on a regular basis by the OTA Executive.

Sub Loop Unbundling (SLU): The interest by the Industry in Sub Loop Unbundling has taken a noticeable upturn; several groups have now shown keen interest in further developing their positions.

The Sub Loop Industry Coordination Group, which is chaired by the OTA2, continues to work through the product and process issues. Openreach have undertaken a series of detailed internal workshops focused on product development and the output is currently being reviewed by the group.

One significant issue has arisen relating to the lack of a suitable set of backhaul products which would enable the SLU service to develop easily. The OTA2 will address this with Openreach and seek to resolve the problem.

Key to proving the suitability of Sub Loop is the development of a trial, working through both the technical and product issues. One of the members of the SLU industry group is at an advanced stage in progressing plans for trials, OTA2 will use this as a vehicle for proving the product and processes.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

1. EMP Release Plans & Scope (LLU/WLR)
2. EMP performance and CP adoption (LLU/WLR)
3. Fit for Purpose Migrations processes & CP adoption;
4. Plans to industrialise MPF processes
5. The Implementation of the Integrated Improvement Plans from Openreach.
6. BAU performance measurement, improvement and publication.

Peter McD. Black

Executive Chairman