OTA Update for July 2008

 

At the end of July, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 4.874 million although the rate of growth has reduced significantly in recent weeks. There are 4.93 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS dipped to 5.35 million.

Product development process – It has become clear from recent discussions with Openreach that their near term options are limited in regards to introducing additional product functionality.

The R900 software build will be deployed during weekend of 9/10 th August 08 and will be the build that most CPs will adopt once sufficient testing has been done to ensure a seamless upgrade to their own systems and processes. This general move to current builds will allow Openreach to finally limit the number of previous software versions they support, reducing costs and taking away the need for extended regression testing of new builds.

The next scheduled build, R1000 is currently in development and has passed the ‘Silver Scope’ milestone which means that it would be extremely difficult to add any additional functionality from this point onwards. The R1000 build is scheduled to be delivered in November 08.

As neither of these builds will give the functionality required to deliver the WLR3 baseline it seems that CPs will need to wait until the following build (R1100), provisionally scheduled for Spring/Summer of 2009, for functional parity with the older WLR2 product. Additionally, as WLR3 will be dominating the development of R1100 there will be little room for any other additional product functionality (e.g. LLU) to be deployed until the next scheduled release which is likely to be at least the end of 2009.

Openreach have proposed a new (technology) forum be established to focus on developing a strategy which overcomes the following 2 major issues:-

  • CPs seem unable to consume new functionality as soon as it becomes available
  • EMP development capability is unable to keep pace with aggregate demand for new requirements

This is clearly not a good place to be and Openreach have been charged with producing a high-level statement which provides a clear, definitive 2-year view of what EMP releases are planned and broadly what their content will be (i.e. WLR, LLU, Service, Regulatory, NGA, etc). With this statement on the table, industry will be better placed to assess the full implications for their respective business and can plan accordingly.

Product Development – Openreach & industry continue to collaborate closely on a number of key development work streams, although ultimate delivery will be constrained by the wider issue outlined above.

Specific updates as follows:-

  • Directory Entries - As previously reported, the industry SOR for improving the product offering for Directory Entries on WLR3 is being reviewed by the various BT Group stakeholders. The next industry review and update is proposed to take place in September. The meeting will cover progress to date and provide an outline of BT’s position and current thinking.
  • Resource Planning - Building on the work already performed by Openreach, OTA2 is leading a programme of meetings with CPs and Openreach with the aim of implementing best practice. LLU, PPC and Ethernet products are included in the review. This programme is expected to be completed in August with final findings presented at the August OTA2 Executive meeting.
  • Ethernet – The Openreach Ethernet Forum is improving with the introduction of separate Service and Commercial sessions, consistent with the forums for LLU and WLR. The split has allowed more collaboration and debate at these forums which is bringing to light key concerns from the CP community. To kick-start work on the issues, it was decided that a subgroup jointly chaired by Openreach and OTA2 should meet. A small number of tasks were agreed and actions were taken around Excess Construction Charges (ECCs), service improvements, commercial issues and fibre mapping. The work streams were presented at the July Ethernet forum and it is clear that progress in tackling the issues has been disappointing. Therefore, OTA2 will take a more active role in programme management of the key issues.

Exchange Space and Power - A range of concerns had been expressed by CPs relating to accommodation issues within LLU Exchanges. 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 consultation by Openreach and we will continue to work with CPs and Openreach to ensure issues are resolved.

CPs had also expressed some concern regarding a perceived difference between BT and themselves with respect to allocation of space and power within LLU exchanges. Openreach suggested an audit of a number of exchanges be undertaken, overseen by OTA2, to fully investigate these concerns. The audit brief and site list was agreed with the CPs which voiced these concerns and the audit commenced during July. We will report the findings in our next update.

Openreach have recently raised the issue of blocked frames and are engaging industry and OTA2 to develop a way forward.

Sub-Loop Unbundling – We await the outcome of the deliberations between BT and Ofcom following BT Group’s announcement on their potential NGA investment.

Migrations Programme – The Headline Migrations KPI target is now being achieved consistently. This KPI tracks the incidence of Tag-related queries which are escalated by CPs to the 3 rd line Tag-support facility currently managed by BTW. The overriding aim is to prevent Tags occurring in the first place.

The Migrations Programme Board (MPB) continue to develop the ‘Best Practice Guide for Broadband Migrations & Home moves’. Arrangements are in hand to publish the current version of the Guide via the Openreach, BT Wholesale and Ofcom web-sites.

Service Levels – Our KPI charts have been updated to include the current ‘stair-case’ targets which Openreach have ‘signed-up’ to. Service levels continue to improve on most fronts and remain relatively stable.

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