OTA Update for May 2008

At the end of May the number of unbundled lines now stands at 4.642 million and the indications are that demand remains strong. There are 4.82 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS remained flat at 5.81million.

WLR3 Baseline Roadmap – Last month we again reported that 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. We also advised that, once again, Openreach will be unable to deliver all the anticipated functionality shortfall for WLR3 in R900 release, citing unforeseen ‘design & development complexity’ which cannot be accommodated within the current R900 development timetable.

At the OTA2 Executive meeting, held in May, Openreach outlined their new proposal to complete delivery of the required functionality in Release R1000 which is scheduled for deployment towards the end of the calendar year. This proposal was accepted by the industry representatives at the meeting, subject to final confirmation of functionality through the relevant commercial groups.

One of the causes of delay to these very important software builds is the amount of regression testing that needs to be completed in order to ensure that new functionality and content does not adversely affect previous versions of the build. It is common practice in large I.T. deployments to limit the number of previous versions which are supported in order to ensure interworking issues do not emerge. Openreach are currently supporting too many versions because CPs have been unable to consume new builds due to their own internal process constraints, or have not seen sufficient economic or operational benefit in upgrading to latest releases or have held back on upgrading until the functionality they require is fully provided. This could become a ‘Catch 22’ with development timescales lengthening due to constant regression testing and costs increasing due to the number of versions needing support.

OTA2 fully supports Openreach in their determination to limit the number of supported builds in the expectation that this will lead to more certainty on build delivery dates.

Openreach are developing a ‘revised’ Release deployment strategy which will hopefully address the issue and which will be shared with Industry stakeholders as soon as possible.

Integrated Plan Targets – With one or two exceptions, the performance of Openreach in LLU and WLR provision and repair has improved enormously over the last financial year and we congratulate Openreach on the significant progress made. The reliability of delivered product has also improved significantly with DOA (Dead on arrival) and ELF (Early life failure) rates now below 2% compared to around 6% a year ago.

At the May Executive meeting Openreach outlined their targets for further improvements in the new financial year and these were positively welcomed as both stretching and realistic as the improvements planned are underpinned by tangible improvement programmes.

Directory entries – As previously reported the OTA2 has been bringing some focus into the issues surrounding Directory Entries, when an End User decides to transfer their telephone service to another Service Provider.

The action taken at the OTA2 sponsored workshop, for Openreach to document the detailed Industry requirements and use the WLR Process Group to endorse the output has been completed, and the SOR (Statement of Requirement) submitted into the BT organisation. The OTA2 will continue to monitor and report progress.

Openreach LLU Hothouse – During the month progress workshops were held for most of the Hothouse subjects, which are:

  • 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 as updates come in over the coming months.

Sub-Loop Unbundling – Having agreed, with Openreach and CPs, the parameters that will allow the creation of business cases for sub-loop unbundling we now await updates from the interested CPs

Ethernet –Openreach have implemented amendments to the existing Ethernet Forum in order to make it more aligned to the existing format successfully used in LLU and WLR. The forum has been split into two distinct groups, one dealing with Service related subjects and the other concentrating on Commercial issues.

For the first time we are including some Ethernet measures in this update (Provisioning and Repair) and they show that at a headline level performance against contractual milestones is reasonable. Feedback from CPs suggests that the processes below these headline measures are not as efficient as they might be and OTA2, along with Openreach will be meeting with CPs to understand further.

Space and Power Issues - A range of concerns have been expressed by CPs relating to accommodation issues within LLU Exchanges. The OTA2 believes that it has now captured CP concerns covering a broad range of issues including power, space, cooling and the suitability of the Openreach products to fulfil CP requirements.

A series of Openreach sponsored product and process enhancements are already underway which have been broadly welcomed by CPs. How far these improvements go to meet the concerns expressed by CPs is not yet fully apparent and is an area requiring further work

There are however a number of areas which the OTA2 considers have not been addressed and which are of concern to CPs. Our aim is to review these with Openreach and Ofcom to agree how best these might be resolved.

LLU Service Levels: Whilst provisioning performance has remained stable throughout the month, the LLU 20hr repair measure remains substantially below target. As currently structured it is extremely difficult for this target to be achieved, and Openreach have presented their ‘get well’ plan for the LLU Enhanced care product to the OTA2 Executive. The plan contains a number of specific Openreach work streams which are already underway and which will lead to substantive improvements during the early part of this financial year. Progress against this plan will be tracked closely by Exec

WLR Service Levels: Service levels for both Provisioning and Repair remain below the targets which were set by the OTA2 Executive last year in the absence of a formal WLR integrated plan from Openreach, and unfortunately 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. During May we arranged for general public access to the BT Wholesale helpdesk to be withdrawn and for the Ofcom Website to be updated so that end users are directed to the help desks of their communication providers. CP call centre agents still have access to the BT helpdesk for help with issues they are unable to resolve. With expert support provided by Openreach throughout the process, CPs are more than capable of dealing with the majority of issues that arise, making migrations experience for the end user less onerous.

  • Latest KPI achievement is 1.2% vs. 1% target.
  • A new ‘Best Practice Guide’ has been produced and was launched during May. 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. Most CPs who have not already applied the full suite of best practice processes are now training staff, in the few instances where this is not happening we will discuss options with Ofcom.
  • A project is now well underway to formally establish processes whereby Service Providers provide 1st and 2nd line support for End-Users, 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

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Hothouse programmes
  • WLR3 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