OTA2 Update for January 2009

At the end of January, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 5.60 million. There are 5.41 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 4.13 million.

During December, the OTA2 were asked to facilitate discussions between industry and Openreach on systems related priorities, Ofcom issued a statement referring to a project to consider key IT systems priorities to support the needs of communications providers and BT’s ongoing Undertakings commitments.

The statement can be found at:

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/btundertakings/otherdocs/keyIT.pdf

As part of the project to consider the scope for Openreach to refocus its systems-related resources, the OTA2 has been tasked by Ofcom to facilitate discussions between CPs and Openreach in order to help reach a consensus view on Industry’s priority requirements over the next 18 months. As part of this process and together with Openreach, the OTA2 is participating in a series of Industry bi-lateral and multi-lateral discussions throughout January. All of the bi-lateral meetings have been held and we are now working with Openreach and CPs to finalise the prioritised requirement list. We are hoping to report our initial findings to Ofcom during February.

OTA2 Strategy for 2009 -The OTA2 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 work with industry (including Openreach) on the major challenges as an ‘honest broker’ and not have a prescriptive remit. However, the form of the majority of the feedback was such that, whilst relevant, stakeholders were mainly commenting on areas of Openreach or CP strategy, rather than an OTA2-specific strategy. At the January OTA2 Exec meeting, it was agreed that the draft strategy should hold for the time being and that the OTA2 would continue to develop a plan to address the issues raised therein. It is anticipated that the outcome of the IT systems priority project will also inform the overall shape of OTA2 Strategy.

Equivalence Management Platform: R1000 was successfully deployed in November and Openreach took the opportunity to cease support of older builds from R400 backwards. R1023 which primarily supports NGA (Next Generation Access – Super Fast Broadband) developments is expected to be deployed in April 2009. R1100 which is designed to deliver the additional WLR3 functionality needed to achieve WLR2 parity, is scheduled to be delivered in July 2009.

Release Consumption - As previously reported, it is now widely recognised that the ability of CPs’ to consume new EMP Releases (and therefore all the benefits contained therein) in a slick & timely manner is seriously hampered for a variety of reasons. Openreach are collaborating with Industry to reach a common understanding of what the underlying root causes are and how we might address them. The issues exist at various stages in the development lifecycle, from Requirements capture/sign-off, to solution design, to testing methodology, to documentation.

The most serious side effect of this issue is that CPs struggle to consume new (and badly needed) functionality which Openreach have developed at great cost.

The situation is further compounded due to the fact that Openreach must support multiple (old) releases at any one time and this increases the amount of regression testing needed before each new release can be deployed – a vicious circle!
All parties recognise that a collaborative approach to solving these issues will be essential in ensuring a more effective consumption model is established as soon as possible. As owner & architect of the EMP platform, Openreach clearly have the lead role in making this happen.

Product Development Transformation Programme – Progress is being made in improving the product development process. A statement of requirements tool is expected to be deployed in Q1 2009. An 18 month product development roadmap for all Openreach products is on track for publication during the 3rd week of February. This will be informed by the Systems prioritisation review mentioned above..

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. These issues are almost resolved so the February Ethernet Sub Group meeting will agree additional issue areas to address or will take a decision to close down the working group.

Minimum Security Standards

In our August update we reported on an initiative regarding the security of the UK’s telecoms infrastructure. Telecoms networks form a vital part of the national infrastructure and their importance is growing as they are increasingly relied upon by other networks, consumers, businesses and Government for their ongoing function. There is an assumption that each network operator should be free to offer services with whatever level of security and resilience they feel is appropriate. However, in the case where different operators make use of shared network elements and facilities, such as is the case in LLU-based competition, there are other factors to consider. It may be the case that the action, or inaction, of an operator offering low levels of service security and/or resilience may seriously undermine the ability of sharing operators to offer higher levels. A “minimum standard” for security, developed by NICC was published as a baseline but set at a level which seeks to ensure that the associated costs do not become disproportionately high and that competition between operators is not affected. A Code of Practice has been under discussion amongst LLUOs for some months. Following a recent review it has been agreed that the OTA2 focus will now be on agreeing implementation plans with operators and monitoring/reporting on these.

Migrations Programme – Through the Migrations Programme Board, the 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.

Number Porting process development is an area which appears to need a re-fresh as the existing processes have evolved over many years (in a fixed-line telephony world) and do not cater for the Number porting needs of VOIP Telephony Providers.

The current version of the Guide is now available via the OTA2 Web-site.
The 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 Provision & Repair – Performance has been relatively stable although Repair continues to lag the agreed Staircase improvement targets
  • Ethernet Provision & Repair – Performance continues to improve & consistently exceeds the agreed targets.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Industry requirements for Ofcom projects
  • 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
  • Minimum Security Standards

 

 

Rod Smith