OTA2 Update for March 2009


At the end of March, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 5.75 million. There are 5.64 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 4.03 million.

Systems Developments - Prioritisation Review

In last month’s update, I reported that OTA2 had been asked by Ofcom to facilitate discussions between industry and Openreach on systems related priorities.

The objective of the review was to provide a consensus view of what Industry regarded 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 which would then be factored into wider negotiations between BT and Ofcom regarding the possibility of extending the timescales for completing ‘systems separation’ (part of TSR Undertakings) in order that development resources may be re-focused in the most productive way.
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 of high priority product capabilities – for each of the product communities (i.e. LLU/WLR/Ethernet) a relatively small number of mission critical product developments were identified.

Openreach presented their roadmap proposal to the OTA Executive on 31st March and received broad agreement subject to a small number of queries requiring further clarification. To that end, a follow up final briefing is being scheduled for 8th April. The proposal, as it stands, majors on all the top priority requirements identified by industry & has been well received so far.

A key element of the Openreach proposal is the Change Control process and associated governance. Quite rightly, Openreach have recognised the need for effective Industry participation in the change control process and this has been factored in. In practice it is inevitable that things will change and new requirements will continue to emerge, hence the need for effective change control to ensure quality decisions are taken and full transparency is maintained throughout.

The process of collaborative working with Openreach, OTA2, and CPs to agree priorities that better suit all the stakeholders, who ultimately have the interests of end users at the forefront of their thinking, has proven to be extremely beneficial and offers a good model for similar initiatives in the future.

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 agreed amongst LLUOs which commits these operators to implementing and maintaining the minimum security standard. This standard will be distributed to LLUOs for signature imminently and we will then begin work on implementation planning.

Displaced Mobile Emergency Calls
Ofcom have requested OTA2 to run a project aimed at re-introducing the ability for mobile users to make emergency calls from any network, if they happen to be in an area not covered by their home network. The project is at an early stage with functionality testing of the networks being undertaken.

WLR & LLU Process Fora – These two fora provide an excellent opportunity for CPs to collaborate directly with Openreach process design experts in validating the solutions proposed for new functionality in upcoming releases before they progress to the ‘development’ stage. Additionally, for new requirements, these groups will develop the initial ‘User Journey Stories’ which Openreach designers need before they can progress their solution designs.

The work of these groups will be vital in ensuring successful delivery of the 18 month roadmap mentioned earlier.

This work is essential in ensuring that the right things are developed in the correct priority and CPs are urged to make their attendance at this important forum a high priority.

Service Levels - Our KPI charts show current performance levels

  • LLU/WLR Provision & Repair – Performance has been relatively stable although Repair continues to lag the agreed Staircase improvement targets albeit there is clearly an improving trend. 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 and consistently exceeds the agreed targets. Openreach have agreed to produce additional performance metrics which provide a view of performance as perceived by the end user. The current performance metrics use success criteria based on whether Openreach have achieved the ‘contractual’ commitment as opposed to what the end user actually wanted. This latter metric will reflect failures due to ‘all’ parties in the supply chain (i.e. not just Openreach).

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Systems prioritisation review process
  • EMP consumption issues
  • WLR3 Roadmap to achieve WLR2 parity
  • Best practice migrations processes & CP compliance
  • Service levels (LLU/WLR/Ethernet)
  • NGA
  • Minimum Security Standards
  • Displaced Mobile Emergency Calls


Rod Smith