OTA2 Update for February 2009

At the end of January, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 5.674 million. There are 5.56 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 4.07 million.

Systems Developments - Prioritisation Review

In last month’s report, I reported that OTA2 had been asked to facilitate discussions between industry and Openreach on systems related priorities. Ofcom issued a statement as follows:

Ofcom to consider key IT systems priorities to support the needs of communications providers and BT’s ongoing Undertakings commitments

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

The objective of the review was to provide a consensus view of what Industry regard as their highest priority development requirements to be satisfied over the next 18 months. This ‘view’ would then be used by Openreach to determine an 18 month product development roadmap. The review encompassed the following industry groups – LLU, WLR and Ethernet

4 main themes have emerged from the review as follows:-

  • Improve what we already have – General feeling that in the current economic climate there was still significant opportunity to refine current products, processes and systems to improve ‘customer satisfaction’ and reduce ‘cost of failure’. This theme was consistent across all product communities.
  • Simplify EMP release consumption –The reasons behind this are many and complex, but it can take a lengthy period from the introduction of a new EMP release for a CP to consume it.
  • Resolve data integrity & documentation quality issues – There is a strong view amongst the LLU and WLR communities that data integrity and documentation quality improvements will help avoid significant cost of failure for both Industry & Openreach.
  • Focus on delivering a small number key product capabilities – for each of the product communities (i.e. LLU/WLR/Ethernet) a relatively small number of mission critical product developments were identified.
  • Whilst not a theme as such, it is clear that CPs are frustrated at the lack of visibility and predictability of the content of EMP releases, and they have expressed the view that this process needs to include a firm commitment to deliver the identified priorities, with a clear change control process that industry can participate in.

Taking on board the output from this review, Openreach have shared their initial ‘high-level’ roadmap proposal with Industry (subject to parallel Ofcom /BT Group discussions & Ofcom / Industry Consultation). This proposal majors on all the top priority requirements identified by industry & has been well received so far.

During March, Openreach will be publishing a comprehensive 18 month roadmap proposal including additional detail regarding a formal ‘change control’ process. A final ‘all CP’ briefing call is planned for end March.

Ethernet – Progress continues to be made in the Ethernet Subgroup Workstreams on issues associated with excess construction charges (ECCs), reporting, fibre mapping, and pricing/contractual issues. Our intention was to investigate further areas of focus during February but the systems prioritisation work has pushed this back a little and we will focus on potential subjects at the March sub group.

Minimum Security Standards – In a previous update we reported on an initiative regarding the improvement of security processes within 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 of progress by industry it has been agreed that the OTA2 focus will now be on seeking commitment to implementation, agreeing implementation plans with operators and monitoring/reporting on these.

New LLU Process Forum – It has been recognised for some time that process developments in the ‘LLU’ space would benefit substantially by increasing the level of design collaboration between Industry & Openreach at the earliest point in the development lifecycle. To this end, the LLU Product & Commercial Group has commissioned the establishment of a new LLU Process Forum (1st meeting scheduled for 5th March 2009).

The forum will cover 4 key aspects as follows:-

  • Review all proposed Openreach changes to the LLU product processes and ensure any CP impacts are understood and agreed
  • Develop and agree user journeys for specific LLU requirements
  • Review and agree the Openreach Process designs meet the agreed requirements and user journey defined.
  • To resolve identified systemic process issues in the LLU product.

OTA2 has agreed to Chair this Forum

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 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. LLU ‘Dead on Arrival’ faults continue to reduce week on week as improved engineer testing capabilities take effect.
  • Ethernet Provision & Repair – Performance continues to improve & consistently exceeds the agreed targets.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Systems prioritisation review process
  • EMP issues (in-life & development)
  • WLR3 Roadmap to achieve WLR2 parity
  • Best practice migrations processes & CP compliance
  • Service levels (LLU/WLR/Ethernet)
  • NGA
  • Minimum Security Standards


Rod Smith