OTA2 Update for September 2018

At the end of September 2018, the number of unbundled lines stands at 10.03 million. There are 4.27 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 1.70 million.

As anticipated in earlier updates the number of unbundled lines has finally exceeded 10 million lines which is a remarkable milestone for CPs, Openreach and OTA2. The use of unbundled lines has promoted significant competition for both voice and broadband services and must be regarded as the original pacesetter for the evolving approaches now being developed for the benefit of the consumer.

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 have now exceeded the 6-month period of OTA2 facilitation. All parties agreed to continue negotiations under the auspices of OTA2. Discussions have continued and Openreach have now just sent out a ‘full and final’ offer. OTA2 will now organise a follow up with industry and Openreach to review.

The technical enhancements for supporting KCI messages, required to assist compliance, remains on track although the KCI for Cancelled Provisions may have limited testing before the implementation date.

WLR Consultation on Withdrawal of WLR

Openreach published a summary of the feedback in September and hosted an all CP call to feedback on this summary. OTA2 have continued discussions with Openreach and Ofcom on the best approach to industry engagement using existing industry groups and additional engagements that will reach out to the wider stakeholder community.

A joint Openreach OTA2 workshop with industry was held to review the range of challenges for WLR closure that were exposed through the consultation. Follow up working groups will tackle some of the specific challenges such as timing of stop sell, impact on devices supported by WLR and communication through the supply chain. The SOTAP proposals were discussed although there is concern about its actual market opportunity.

Ethernet Service

Service delivery performance remains strong overall. There has been a record influx of orders over the last couple of weeks, with the last week of September exceeding 2,000 orders. Openreach are actively managing the impacts as the volume has outstripped the forecasted expectation and is working with those CPs who have generated the increased volume. Some impacts on the delivery engine are expected but the proactive management will hopefully mitigate any significant impact.

Openreach have launched their much-anticipated consultation into a reimagined Ethernet delivery process. The consultation runs for 6 weeks.

Ethernet on EMP is progressing very well with slightly over 50% of the order volume running through the EMP platform. The View My Job trial has concluded, and the capability is now available to all the EMP established CPs. Work on delivering the remainder of the CP ‘Must Haves’ is continuing but the benefits of the platform are already leading most of the major consumers of the EAD product to switch to EMP. Volume migrations of the existing assets from the ECO-x platform to EMP is the next area of focus.

Passive Infrastructure Access

Work on the DPA Reference Offer is continuing apace. A detailed review of the draft contract and product description has surfaced a number of areas which require more detail and additional processes. Detailed plans of the work activities are being constructed and shared with industry, focus is being brought to bear on the three most challenging areas; Network Adjustments, Forecasting and SLA/SLGs.

Number Porting

Strategic Transformation

Earlier in the year, the NPESG (Number Port Executive Steering Group) submitted a proposal to Ofcom which represented Industry's view of how the UK Number Porting operating model could be transformed in order to meet future requirements whilst also addressing current weaknesses.

In their response, Ofcom have asked the NPESG to target a strategic solution which, if possible, would address a wider scope of requirements as follows:

  • Porting transformation (fixed and mobile, Geo and non-Geo numbers)
  • Improved number management/administration (Ofcom function)
  • CLI Authentication (to counter nuisance/spoof calls)

To that end NPESG are sponsoring a blockchain-based Proof of Concept (PoC) which BT have initiated along with a small number of other participating CPs. The initial PoC ‘scope and specification’ has now been signed-off by the group and development has commenced with completion expected in 4-5 months.

Why blockchain?

There is a growing need within the UK for a national telephony number resource asset management database which is authoritative, trusted and capable of underpinning the lifecycle of these finite resources. At the same time, number portability, as an industry process, has many issues rendering it “unfit for purpose” in the eyes of the stakeholder community and in need of “reinvention” to meet the needs of IP and Mobile demands. Blockchain, as a distributed technology architecture is designed to support commercial transactions between parties where trust is limited and potentially offers a novel means of addressing these needs.

Improving compliance and tackling complaints

Ofcom have been exploring various ways in which the level of CP compliance with General Condition 18 can be improved and their initial thoughts were recently shared with the NPESG. Ofcom certainly recognise the need to address poor process compliance and discussions are ongoing.

In the meantime, Ofcom have asked the NPESG to explore the feasibility of introducing a new ‘port override’ process to counter the growing volume of complaints to Ofcom from subscribers and/or telecoms providers arising as a result of actions or inactions by CPs/Resellers seeking to prevent subscribers from porting and switching

Consumer Switching Industry Forum (CSIF)

All IP Migration Programme

OTA2 have been asked by Ofcom to establish a new industry programme aimed at pre-validating the migration processes which Gaining CPs will be using to support the anticipated high volume take up of new VOIP-based ‘digital phone’ services.

OTA2 have started to scope out the various migration scenarios we expect to encounter, and which need to be fully pre-tested well before mass migration commences.

Special Service Restoration

A new Code of Practice for restoring End User’s Special Services has been produced to offer guidance to CPs to cater for those exceptional circumstances where an End User’s ‘special service’ (e.g. remote patient surveillance) has ceased to function following migration from their copper-based phone service to a new digital VOIP-based phone service. This document has now been published on the OTA2 web-site.

Service Levels

Copper & Fibre Provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 8.2 and 6.4 working days for Copper and Fibre installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 24 September 2018 (vs backstop SLA of 12 working days).

Copper Repair

LLU and WLR ‘on time repair’ performance continues to track an improving trend, achieving 4 week rolling average of 88% and 84% respectively, by week ending 21 September 2018.

Rod Smith