OTA2 Update for November 2008

At the end of November, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 5.365 million. The increased rate of growth experienced in recent weeks has been maintained and is primarily due to an increase in bulk migrations (i.e. from IPstream to LLU). There are 5.26 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS dipped to 4.22 million.

Equivalence Management Platform: Openreach have advised that the software upgrade, R1000, has been successfully deployed some two weeks later than originally planned to allow a period of stability following some recent unplanned outages on the EMP platform Now that R1000 is delivered, Openreach will cease support of older builds from R400 backwards.

We have previously reported concerns over the capabilities that will be available in future releases of EMP and how and when CP requirements will be delivered. Openreach is still reviewing the options that would give the best outcome and whilst we said last month that we hoped to be able to report an improved picture in this update, we have still not yet had the result of the Openreach deliberations. At a recent OTA2 Executive meeting, Openreach advised that they would be able to share the 2009 EMP roadmap at the December 08 Executive meeting.

One of the key areas to be overcome is the difficulty CPs face in consuming new functionality delivered in large upgrades to the EMP platform. The new Openreach (technology) forum that will focus on developing a different strategy that overcomes these issues has now been established and the inaugural meeting has been held.

Product Development – Openreach announced some time ago that they were undertaking a major programme to enhance their ability to specify, develop and deliver new product requirements. It is clear that, although many meetings have been held and CPs have tried to contribute, little has actually been achieved. We understand that Openreach will now renew their efforts in this area which is welcome news, because until there is a fundamental improvement the CP community will continue to feel frustrated that new capability is not deployed quickly enough, whilst Openreach will remain frustrated that functionality which is delivered is not consumed quickly enough.

Specific updates as follows:

  • Directory Entries – The second industry review and update of the work to provide a strategic solution to the problems surrounding the preservation of directory entries took place on 24th November in London. The feed back from the session was very positive from the industry attendees. The proposed solution requires the process to be automated as much as possible, consequently this requires the necessary EMP developments to be undertaken. We await Openreach confirming which EMP release the requirement will be included in.
  • Resource Planning – Feedback from Industry has been received on the Openreach ‘Code of Practice’. It will be revised and issued by 31 December 2008. There are additional actions outside the ‘Code of Practice’ that Openreach will continue to drive to resolution to improve the forecasting process with Industry.
  • Ethernet – Progress continues to be made on the Ethernet Subgroup Workstreams on issues associated with excess construction charges (ECCs), reporting, fibre mapping, and pricing/contractual issues. As these issues are resolved, the subgroup will agree other areas to improve. The OTA2 will continue to actively participate in the programme management of the key Ethernet issues to ensure that assigned actions are completed in a timely manner and that tangible improvements are made.

Service Harmonisation - The Cross Industry Working (i.e. LLU/WLR/OR) group continues to progress this development, albeit the task is proving very complex & therefore difficult. Essentially the objective is to establish a single (harmonised) set of WLR/LLU repair products which on the one hand satisfies the needs of CPs (including pricing) and, on the other hand, enables Openreach to deploy its finite resources in the most efficient manner.

This programme is critically dependent on the outcome of two trials one of which is now underway. At the November OTA Executive meeting, Openreach presented a summary of the proposed 4-tier model along with a provisional delivery schedule. Openreach advised that the commercial model will be shared with industry commercial groups (LLU/WLR) on the 16th December.

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.

Blocked Frames - Openreach have recently raised the issue of blocked frames. They have engaged industry and OTA2 to develop a commercial option to release capacity. This will be trialled shortly to assess its effectiveness.

Next Generation Access (NGA) – OTA2 continues to monitor the development of NGA. A major area of concern is around the development of a trading model which enables the inclusion of disparate geographically dispersed networks in offering service to national service providers.

OTA2 Strategy for 2009 -The OTA2 has received a significant amount of feedback from all stakeholders on its draft strategy for 2009. In general, the feedback from Industry was that there was still much to do in driving improvements and that the OTA2 should continue to focus as an ‘honest broker’ and not have a prescriptive remit. The feedback was discussed at the November OTA2 Exec meeting with an action for the OTA2 and Openreach to determine the key activities required to be completed over the next year. A revised strategy will be issued by the 31 December 2009.

Migrations Programme – The overall Headline Migrations KPI is now consistently inside the target.

One of the key remaining stepping stones towards further improving the end user experience and reducing the overall cost of failure, has been completed with the launch of Openreach’s Tags Resolution Facility (OTRF) and CPs’ adoption of it.

The Migrations Programme Board (MPB) will continue to develop the ‘Best Practice Guide for Broadband Migrations & Home moves’. The current version of the Guide is now available via the OTA Web-site

Migrations - forward look: Through the Migrations Programme Board, OTA2 will continue to work with Industry stakeholders to develop the Best Practice Guide and to monitor Industry’s adoption/compliance. Further process development is needed to ensure End Users can seamlessly migrate their services between LLU, 21C and NGA platforms once they are deployed.

OTA2 will continue to enlist Ofcom enforcement (General Condition 22) support as necessary to ensure ALL stakeholders stay focused.

Service Levels - Our KPI charts now include the ‘stair-case’ improvement targets which Openreach have signed-up to.

  • LLU/WLR Repair – a major degradation in repair performance was encountered recently due to significant system issues leading to extended repair cycle times. Root causes have been identified and fixed. Normal service levels have been resumed.
  • Ethernet Repair – negatively impacted in the month by a major cable breakdown which was due to co-located power cables catching fire. However, there has been a significant underlying improvement in repair times for ‘fibre’ faults generally.

EMP Performance Issues There has been a marked deterioration in EMP Service availability performance in recent weeks. Most of this has been attributable to deficiencies identified in core components of the EMP platform. Fixes have been applied and the overall system stability has restored to normal levels. The system faults mostly impacted T2R (Trouble to Resolve – Repair) performance. This has prompted a major review by Openreach of the EMP operating model and it’s support supply chain.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

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


Rod Smith