OTA2 Update for December 2018

At the end of December 2018, the number of unbundled lines stands at 10.08 million. There are 4.27 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 1.70 million.

The following is an update on the principle areas of project activity being led by OTA2.

SLA / SLG

Following Ofcom’s publication of its final statement on Automatic Compensation, OTA2 received a request from several CPs to initiate formal SLG negotiations with Openreach regarding their additional end-customer compensation obligations.

Negotiations exceeded the specified 6-month period of OTA2 facilitation in part as it proved problematic to identify and agree the funding gap over and above that allowed for in the Charge Control. The facilitation period was extended with the willing agreement of all parties. A final agreement was reached between Industry and Openreach following the inclusion of a 12-month review covering Cancelled Provisions since this had been the area of greatest uncertainty. Separately industry agreed a revised April start date with Ofcom, so as to align with the Openreach Charge Control period.

The technical enhancements for supporting KCI messages, required to assist compliance, remain on track to facilitate the April launch.

Ethernet Service

Service delivery performance remains strong overall. The issues with planning KPIs and service times being missed has been the focus of lots of activity and remedial action. The problems were caused by three factors hitting at once, a commercial offer closing creating a spike in demand, unprecedented order intake due to two major contracts landing and the failure of a systems component upgrade. It is anticipated that we will see a steady improvement to performance and a full recovery in the new year. To date the impact has been on the front of the delivery process, this will be monitored to pick up any impact to the overall service delivery.

Openreach have shared the first overall consolidated view of the consultation responses from the Reimagining Ethernet. There will be a more detailed playback in January to consider the best way forward, taking into account the complexity and impact to both CPs and Openreach of moving to a new model.

Ethernet on EMP continues to progress over 70% of the order volume running through the EMP platform. There have been some issues raised over the post code which gets cleansed at migration and any impact that this may cause CPs, Openreach are reviewing and will replay to all CPs in January.

Passive Infrastructure Access

The DPA reference offer continues to progress. Openreach have explored a solution to the linking of Notice of Intent (NoI) areas, subject to their own internal approval, which is a good step forward. Further work is ongoing looking at being able to notify an area with an NoI for connection to customers to start. Network Adjustments and the process of validation remains an area of focus. Openreach will be carrying out a trial Proof of Concept (POC) starting mid-January 2019 to begin testing the process and resource impacts.

The main areas of issue are around:

  1. Network Adjustments, as well as making the process of validation and authorisation fit for purpose,
  2. The management of areas within an NoI which are ready to connect customers,
  3. Scoping and agreeing the POC success criteria,
  4. Developing a meaningful forecasting mechanism.

Consumer Switching

All IP - Migrations Testing Programme (AIP-MTP)

At the request of Ofcom, OTA2 have established a new industry programme aimed at pre-validating the migration processes which Gaining CPs will be using to support the anticipated ramp-up in demand from End Users to switch from their existing copper-based phone services to new VOIP-based services.

An initial ‘kick-off’ session has now been held with all Phase 1 participants (i.e. BT Consumer, BT Business, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Virgin Media, BT Wholesale, Openreach) and, subject to further discussions regarding test criteria and CP-specific state of readiness, the intention is to commence bilateral testing during Q1, 2019.

Phase 2 will extend the testing programme to encompass more complex supply chains involving other wholesalers and their reseller partners.

The proposed test criteria are primarily concerned with validating full compliance with the relevant Ofcom General Conditions (C7 - Consumer Switching and B3 - Number Porting).

A specific area of focus will be to demonstrate that service disruption for the End User (when switching service provider) is kept to an absolute minimum. Some of the migration scenarios require co-ordinated engineering activity at the exchange, the cabinet as well as the End User premises and can present a real challenge to the CPs concerned in delivering a seamless switching experience.

Another key element of the programme will be to validate a new ‘special service restoration’ (SSR) process which has been introduced to rapidly restore service to very vulnerable End Users who happen to ‘lose’ their special service (e.g. remote patient surveillance) following migration to a VOIP-based service. In these circumstances, the Gaining CP must invoke SSR process to re-establish the End User’s copper-based phone service. Thereafter, the End User will need to consult their special service provider to investigate why the special service ceases to function over a VOIP-based service.

Number Porting

The ongoing spread of fibre-based broadband services (coupled with the well-publicised retirement of TDM-based phone services) is expected to stimulate consumer demand to switch over to a VOIP-based phone service. As part of this transition, most End Users will likely insist on retaining their telephone numbers and this has prompted a major re-examination of the current number porting processes to ensure they can cope with the anticipated demand.

Blockchain Proof of Concept (PoC) – Potential strategic solution

The project is intended to trial the inherent characteristics of blockchain technology to assess its potential and suitability for each of the following use cases:

  1. number management (i.e. Ofcom function)
  2. number porting (i.e. industry function)
  3. CLI authentication (i.e. to counter nuisance calls)

The PoC project is 'sponsored' by Ofcom with BT Technology playing a lead role in staging the PoC with active participation of a small number of CPs.

The Number Port Executive Steering Group (NPESG) will be responsible for determining the PoC ‘requirements’ for number porting.

Improving compliance and tackling complaints

Work has commenced to establish a new ‘port override’ process to counter the growing volume of complaints to Ofcom from subscribers and CPs. Once established this process will allow port orders to be expedited where a subscriber’s legitimate request to port their number is being inappropriately blocked or frustrated.

Ofcom have recently publicised their ongoing commitment to actively pursue CP malpractice through formal investigation and stiff penalties, emphasising that this should provide ongoing incentive, where needed, for CPs to comply with the General Condition (GC-B3) for Number Portability. The introduction of a Port Override process to counter repeated CP malpractice will also help to deter such behaviour over time.

WLR Withdrawal Programme

Following the consultation on WLR Withdrawal in 2018, the OTA2 have been working with Openreach to establish an industry engagement process. The main-focus is the jointly chaired steering group which has now met twice. A series of future engagements are being established for 2019. The main challenges will revolve around communication/awareness through the supply chain, covering wholesalers and resellers as well as identifying vulnerable customers and over the top services which can rely on traditional telephone access. The key dates of stop sell in 2023 and final closure in 2025 are some time away but will require all CPs (using WLR) to transition to an all IP service in good time.

Service Levels

Copper & Fibre Provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 8, 6.4 and 8.2 working days for Copper, Fibre (MI) and Fibre (SI) installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 26 December 2018 (vs backstop SLA of 12 working days).

(Note: MI and SI are Managed-Install and Self-Install respectively).

Copper Repair

LLU and WLR ‘on time repair’ performance continues to maintain an improving trend, achieving 4 week rolling average of 85% and 81% respectively, by week ending 21 December 2018.

Rod Smith