OTA Update for April 2008

At the end of April the number of unbundled lines now stands at 4.486 million and the indications are that demand remains strong. There are 4.75 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS remained flat at 5.85 million.

R800 Software release – The R800 upgrade to EMP went ahead as planned over the weekend of 26th and 27th April. Once again this was an extremely complex upgrade that we understand went very well and we congratulate Openreach.

WLR3 Baseline Roadmap – Last month we reported that some CPs have remained reluctant to adopt WLR3 as they believed its capabilities were not yet at the point where they saw significant benefit over the existing WLR2 product.

The good news is that industry have recently acknowledged that the planned content of EMP R900 in July would substantially close the gap.

Unfortunately, Openreach have since advised that, once again, they will be unable to deliver all the anticipated functionality for WLR3 in R900 release, citing unforeseen ‘design & development complexity’ which cannot be accommodated within the current R900 development timetable.

This represents a setback for the WLR community who need to know precisely ‘when’ baseline functionality is going to be deployed and have confidence in Openreach’s ability to deliver to that plan. Without this, CPs cannot cement their own internal development plans and business cases.

It is apparent from our discussions with Openreach that this specific issue is symptomatic of a wider underlying problem, whereby the extremely high demand from both Industry and BT group companies to introduce new products and to enhance existing products (all of which now reside on EMP) far exceeds the development time available within the current Release strategy as this is based on a new release every 3 months. Openreach recognise the issue and are developing a ‘revised’ Release deployment strategy which will hopefully address the issue and will be shared with Industry stakeholders as soon as possible.

Directory entries - The safe preservation of Directory Entries when an End User decides to transfer their telephone service to another Service Provider is critically important. This is especially the case for Business Users who need to be absolutely confident that their Special Directory details are accurately displayed at all times. The impact of any failure to preserve the listings could be catastrophic to the business concerned, including the reputation of their CP. If End Users have any doubts regarding the safe preservation of their directory entries they will be reluctant to switch suppliers at any time and this could become a barrier to effective CP competition in the market.

As Industry has indicated that the protection of directory entries in a situation where a customer moves between CP’s is not robust, OTA2 recently hosted an industry workshop looking at Directories and in particular Special Directory Entries (SDE) and the processes around them. The purpose of the workshop was to:-

  • reach a common understanding of the current problem areas
  • agree a clear statement of what Industry need

This was largely achieved and the primary action from the workshop was for Openreach to document the detailed Industry requirements over the next two weeks. This document will then be reviewed at the next WLR Process Group meeting and, subject to any further amendments, will then be formally submitted to Openreach as an industry Statement of Requirement (SOR). OTA2 will closely monitor the progress of the SOR thereafter.

Openreach LLU Hothouse – During the month Openreach hosted an industry ‘Hothouse’ where approximately sixty representatives from Openreach and the CP community met over two days to review progress and to discuss opportunities for further focus in the coming months. The Hothouse was well attended and viewed by all as extremely valuable. The discussion areas were centred on:

  • Homemovers – how do we continually improve the migration experience for movers?
  • xMPF – the development of a new MPF variant
  • Resource planning – how do we improve forecasting so that resources are better aligned to demand
  • Service Harmonisation – how do we improve, simplify and harmonise the various service levels associated with different products in a way that does not disadvantage end users
  • Exchange Space and Power – options to improve utilisation and increase flexibility

OTA2 will report progress against the work streams discussed over the coming months.

Sub-Loop Unbundling – Interested CP’s continue to develop their ‘macro level’ business cases and OTA2 await their feedback.

I am very pleased to report that after protracted delays in getting power connected to the street cabinet, the first stage of the London SLU trial has begun.

Ethernet – Following further discussion at the OTA2 Executive meeting, Openreach have proposed amendments to the existing Ethernet Forum in order to make it more aligned to the existing format successfully used on LLU and WLR. Additionally from next month’s report we will be including performance metrics for Ethernet provision and repair.

Space and Power Issues - A wide range of concerns from a number of sources have been raised with OTA2 relating to power and space availability in LLU Exchanges. As a result we have been asked to assist in clarifying and, wherever possible, resolving these. In the first instance our approach is to ensure that all CP concerns are captured and fully understood. In addition we will be seeking to map the planned Openreach programmes relating to power and space against these concerns.

We anticipate completing this work by mid May which will allow us to articulate where concerns have potentially not been addressed and agree:

  • which issues are appropriate for OTA2 to help resolve
  • those which must rest with Ofcom and
  • those which we do not believe warrant further action.

Integrated (LLU/WLR) Service improvement Plan (08/9) - The plan & its associated targets is in the process of being cascaded within Openreach. The finalised plan and progress to date is scheduled for comprehensive review at the next OTA2 Executive meeting in May 08

LLU Service Levels: Provisioning performance has remained stable throughout the month.

  • LLU 20hr Repair - Openreach presented their ‘get well’ plan for the LLU Enhanced care product to the OTA2 Executive. The plan contains a number of specific workstreams which are already underway and which should close the performance gap by mid-summer at the latest. Progress against this plan will be tracked closely by Exec

WLR Service Levels: Service levels for both Provisioning and Repair remain below the targets set by the OTA Executive last year in the absence of a formal WLR integrated plan from Openreach and the flat trend continues. Going forward we will report progress against Openreach’s own integrated plan that they have set for the 2008/09 year.

Migrations Programme

  • Headline Migrations KPI relating to Tag calls – Favourable trend maintained. This is primarily due to continuing gradual reduction in Tag-related call volumes received by the BTW Tags help-desk. With expert support provided by Openreach throughout, this trend is a direct result of a sustained Industry-wide effort to tackle the underlying reasons and, in particular, to improve the way End User Tag issues are managed by Service Providers at the initial point of contact.
  • Latest KPI achievement is 1.6% vs 1% target.
  • Best Practice Guide - A new ‘Best Practice Guide’ has been produced and is scheduled to be launched in May 08. This ‘Guide’ provides the Industry-agreed view of what ‘Best Practice’ looks like in handling the full range of Migrations and Homemover scenarios which can arise in practice – as such the ‘Guide’ will be an essential reference document for CPs to use in developing their internal plans to adopt ‘Best Practice’ over the coming months. Some CPs already apply the full suite of best practice process….but not all.
  • New Industry-Wide Support model – A project is now well underway to establish a new Industry-Wide support model whereby Service Providers will provide 1st/2nd line support for End-Users in the first instance, with 3rd line support continuing to be provided (for SP agents only) by the existing BT specialist Tags help-desk.
  • Migrations Programme Plan – the key remaining elements of the Plan are:-

    • Industry to fully establish the new 1/2/3rd line Industry wide support model
    • CPs to fully adopt the enhanced Simultaneous Provide process as soon as possible.
    • Openreach to fully deploy Flexi-Cease
    • CPs to adopt Flexi-Cease
    • CPs to continuously enhance 1st/2nd line support capability

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

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • WLR3 Baseline –Development Roadmap
  • Fit for Purpose Migrations processes & CP adoption;
  • LLU Fault rates
  • Integrated Service Improvement Plan – 08/09
  • Service levels (LLU/WLR/Ethernet & EMP)
  • Sub-Loop Unbundling - Industrialisation
  • Exchange Space & Power – Capacity & Flexibility issues
  • Ethernet Provisioning performance


Rod Smith