OTA Update for June 2008

 

At the end of June, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 4.760 million and the indications are that demand remains strong. There are 4.87 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS dipped slightly to 5.74 million.

Product development process – Openreach continue to wrestle with a complex web of inter-related development issues which are manifesting themselves as a development ‘log jam’ across all product lines.

For example, the current rate at which new functionality can be introduced onto EMP (Equivalence Management Platform) is significantly behind the volume of new requirements being registered at the front end of the development cycle, creating an ever expanding backlog of demand. These new requirements come from all areas and many are considered urgent by the proposing body (i.e. Industry, Process improvements, Regulatory, etc)

Equally, it is also evident that whilst Openreach are falling behind on introducing new functionality, Industry CPs have fallen behind on consuming the new software releases that have been introduced, which in turn means that Openreach have to keep supporting multiple versions, increasing testing requirements and therefore limiting the development resource available for new functionality, a classic catch 22.

At the recent OTA2 Executive Meeting, Openreach confirmed that the seriousness of the problem was well understood by the Openreach Executive. As we move towards a solution to this problem, OTA2 have stressed the need for Openreach to consult regularly with Industry to ensure their needs are factored in. The next IT Directors Forum (28th July) would be an appropriate place for Openreach to actively engage with Industry on this issue.

WLR3 Baseline Roadmap – The situation on the WLR3 baseline remains the same as that reported here for the last several months. Because of the development issues outlined above, the level of functionality required to make WLR3 an attractive product for some CPs will not be delivered until R1000 (end of CY2008) as a minimum, and even then there is unlikely to be support for iSDN2 and iSDN30, again limiting the benefit of the product to the CP community

We fully recognise the difficulty that Openreach face in building a complex platform designed to cater for the provision and repair requirements of LLU and WLR to the entire UK market. The platform supports massive volumes of activity and works extremely well. Because of that success, its users want and expect more capability from it, and they are increasingly being frustrated because of the delays outlined above. This platform is in danger of becoming a bottleneck to the development of the competitive market we are all striving for, and we support Openreach in whatever it takes to resolve these critical issues, and to encourage them to engage with industry so that the solutions can be worked on together, rather than imposed.

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.

Product Development – Openreach & Industry continue to collaborate closely on the following key development work streams:

  • Homemovers – The requirement focuses on the specific homemover scenario where an End User requires a ‘MPF-based service to be delivered at their new (target) premises, seamlessly and on-time. A comprehensive SOR (Statement of Requirement) has now been signed-off by Industry and it moves into the feasibility stage.
  • xMPF (i.e. Voice only MPF) – Workstream activity has gone very well so far with all requirements evaluated & consolidated into a single SOR. Further collaboration is planned to continue as the feasibility stage is progressed.
  • Directory Entries - As previously, reported there is an ongoing problem associated with the retention of directory entries when an end user moves CP. The problem is experienced across both WLR2&3. Following the OTA2 facilitated workshop which was aimed at trying to draw together all of the issues into a single problem statement / user requirement document, Openreach have now completed the customer engagement and finalised the requirements document which has been signed off by the WLR Process group as the representative industry body. The document has been submitted as a formal SOR and is being considered by the relevant areas of BT. OTA2 will continue to monitor the progress and report back at a later date.
  • Resource Planning - During the Ofcom consultation period on SLA/SLGs, Openreach made the point that it was potentially unfair for them to be penalised for being late with the delivery of a circuit that had not been forecast, and that non-forecasting of demand should in some way mitigate the level of SLG payment that may apply. Whilst sympathetic to the point, Ofcom at that time chose not to allow any mitigation, but did commit to asking OTA2 to investigate ways of improving the level of forecast accuracy.

    Openreach has been working collaboratively with a number of CPs to understand the issues associated with forecasting and to help explain the process and templates. However if there isn't any improvement in forecasting, they will look for alternative remedies to ensure that high service performance levels can be maintained cost effectively.

    Building on the work already performed, the OTA2 is leading a programme of meetings with CPs and Openreach with the aim of implementing best practice. LLU and Ethernet products will be included in the review.
  • Service Harmonisation – The aim of this work stream is to explore the merit (or otherwise) of harmonising the various service levels associated with different products. Any operational efficiencies which can be gained by harmonising activities across products will feed into the overall cost stack and benefit industry & consumers ultimately. This work stream is proving to be very complex and despite a great deal of collaboration to date, progress has been slow.
  • 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. To kick-start work on the issues, it was decided that a subgroup chaired by Openreach and the OTA2 should meet. Key issues were agreed and actions were taken around excessive construction charges (ECCs) and pricing, reporting, statements of requirements (SORs), and process (leadtimes and customer required dates (CRDs) and fibre mapping. Each workstream to be progressed by the designated leads with specific aim of developing plans which can be presented at the next Ethernet forum in July.

Exchange Space and Power - A range of concerns had been expressed by CPs relating to accommodation issues within LLU Exchanges. The OTA2 has now captured CP concerns across a broad range of areas 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. It is however, not yet fully apparent whether the associated commercial terms surrounding the products will fully meet the expectations of CPs. This will be an area subject to ongoing review.

CPs had also expressed concern of a lack of equivalence between BTW and themselves, with respect to space and power within LLU exchanges. Openreach suggested an audit of a number of exchanges be undertaken, overseen by the OTA2, to fully investigate these concerns. The audit brief and site list has been agreed with the CPs which voiced these concerns and the audit will take place during July.

There remain a number of areas which the OTA2 considers require improved metrics, clarification and communication with CPs. We are in dialogue with Openreach on how best to achieve this.

Finally, a number of CPs had commented during our review, that they welcomed the recent proactive Openreach activity regarding space and frame availability at specific problem exchanges. They were keen to see this become a “business as usual” approach. Openreach have subsequently raised this issue at the June meeting of the Products and Commercial Group with a view to engaging industry to develop a way forward.

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

PPC Reporting - In response to an Ofcom request as part of their Leased Line Market Review, OTA2 was tasked to undertake a review and rework of the quarterly reports produced by BT Wholesale (BTW) in support of the Partial Private Circuit (PPC) product. Working with BTW to define a working set of metrics which are driven directly off the BTW Netview system, a draft suite has been created. This first pass has been presented to UKCTA as the representative industry body. It was agreed that the new report would be run in parallel with the old one for the next quarter to give the operational owners in the CPs a chance to ‘road test’ and modify the reports structure before the old quarterly report is turned off.

Migrations Programme – The Headline Migrations KPI target is now being achieved consistently. The Migrations Programme Board (MPB) continue to focus on the following:-

  • Best Practice Guide – The Guide has been raised to Issue 1 and is being made available to the wider Stakeholder community via the OR/BTW/Ofcom web-sites. The MPB stakeholder community will continue to develop specific areas of the Guide as some processes still fall short of delivering the best possible end user experience (e.g. Homemovers, Number porting). This guide will be the definitive reference point for all Stakeholders in determining ‘what best practice process looks like’ for all migration/homemover scenarios. As such the Guide will be used to steer CPs internal development plans.
  • New Openreach Tags Facility – As always planned, the 3rd line support function for resolving Tag issues is being re-positioned (from BTW) into Openreach’s support operation. The detailed transition plan is under development and the move should take place within the next 3 months

Service Levels

LLU Service Levels - Provisioning performance has remained stable throughout the month and is in line with Integrated plan targets. Repair performance continues to improve but still lagging integrated plan targets (Q1) by approx 5%.

WLR Service Levels - Provisioning and Repair performance have remained stable throughout the month and is in line with Integrated plan targets.

Ethernet Service Levels - Ethernet reporting and the process below these headline measures are being reviewed as CPs suggest that they are not as efficient as they might be. (Provisioning and Repair) show that at a headline level performance against contractual milestones is reasonable.

EMP Service Levels – EMP has remained relatively stable throughout May & June although there has been a marked increase in network related outages which degraded overall availability performance. This is being investigated by Openreach.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Key Product development programmes
  • WLR3 Roadmap to achieve WLR2 parity
  • Best practice migrations processes & CP adoption
  • Service levels (LLU/WLR/Ethernet & EMP)
  • Sub-Loop Unbundling - Industrialisation
  • Exchange Space & Power – Capacity & Flexibility issues

     

 

Rod Smith