OTA2 Update for August 2019

At the end of August 2019, the number of unbundled lines stands at 9.995 million. There are 4.26 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 1.72 million.*

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

Ethernet

Service remains our main area of focus. The latest statistical view shows that the whilst demand remains very strong, the age of the workstack and the tails measures are beginning to come back under control. Previously we saw this as the precursor to control being achieved and expect this to be the same. Completions remain significantly above the expected glide. There are some emerging challenges relating to the operation of EMP and the workflow, these are now being assessed to review the potential for adjusting the systems to improve both efficiency and where needed speed.

OTA2 will continue to monitor and work with Openreach to get to a better position.

Reimaging Ethernet Programme (REP)

Work on getting to a better delivery journey for Ethernet orders is continuing. We are working to get both CPs and Openreach to understand each other’s expectation of what is required for to make the programme a mutually beneficial experience.

Passive Infrastructure Access

Openreach have proposed the development of a service to allow CPs to call down pole tests where the pole is out of its scheduled test date. This was well received by the CPs. Openreach also announced that they will undertake a trial of the ‘Time Bound Concession’ where CPs are able to place additional drop wires onto a pole beyond the structural limits for a fixed period before the old drop wire is removed. Openreach have provided more detail on how they think the process for Network Adjustments and CPs undertaking the work themselves will operate under a collaborative framework. CPs have raised some concerns over the SLA position not moving under the contract, Openreach believe that this will not impede CPs from being able to move at the speed they require in executing the work and getting the Network Adjustment fund to pay for the activities. Further discussions are required to iron out some of the detail surrounding audit rules and what constitutes a major breach and what is just a minor issue. Labelling of the CPs cables is one of the areas of issue with a major point of difference between Openreach wanting CPs to mark the cable with a full reference (18 characters) number which is a marked difference from the previous requirements of simply identifying the CP name.

The capability to enhance project areas is being developed and will land mid-October. CPs will be able to add existing NoI’s into the project area and pool the funds. The simplified customer connection price for underground fed premises presented last month is now with the Openreach regulatory team to discuss with Ofcom how to best implement the changes from a regulatory point of view.

Automatic Compensation

Openreach have reported that since the launch of the new Auto Comp KCI messages in April 2019, they have sent over a million messages in the new format to support CPs better understanding whether compensation is due. From analysis of recent messages, Openreach believe they have now reached a level of in excess of 98% accuracy but will continue to seek improvements in collaboration with Industry.

Dark Fibre

Openreach soft launched the DFX product in August in a limited geography. This will progressively expand up until full launch in January 2020. Industry has provided feedback on the Initial Reference Offer and supporting documentation. The limited time available prior to soft launch did not allow for any level of discussion on these points, so there will be ongoing negotiations with respect to industry comments up until full launch.

Consumer Switching

All IP - Migrations Testing Programme (AIP-MTP)

At the request of Ofcom, OTA2 are leading an 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.

Phase 1 testing is limited to a small group of major retailers and their respective wholesale partners. The tests are progressing steadily although progress has been slow as various porting-related issues have surfaced requiring prompt remedial attention before the tests can be satisfactorily completed.

Whilst these issues were not anticipated, it does confirm the value of doing these tests in the first place.

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

Number Porting developments

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 the need to further automate the porting processes involved.

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 numbering related 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 Number Port Executive Steering Group (NPESG) continue to develop a comprehensive ‘requirements’ statement against which the Blockchain ‘Proof of Concept’ (POC) capabilities can be evaluated.

The POC project is now in build mode, with a target completion date scheduled for September 2019, at which point the stakeholder community will be invited to test the platform.

Tactical Process Reforms

The current process is undergoing major reform to remove long-standing weaknesses which mostly impact port orders for business end users. The initial batch of reforms are targeted for launch during September 2019 and will help to reduce CP cost of failure and improve end user satisfaction.

EECC Fixed Line Switching and Porting Working Group

The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) will update and replace the existing EU regulatory framework for electronic communications within the UK. The OTA2 has been invited by Ofcom to convene an industry group to develop the processes in relation to fixed services. This will specifically address migration processes that will be required across all infrastructures. A working group has been scheduled to launch this work on 2 September 2019. The initial timetable is to develop an approach for Ofcom by November 2019 followed by an implementation period currently targeted for December 2020.

Service Levels

Copper & Fibre Provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 7.7, 5.6, and 9.6 working days for Copper, Fibre (MI) and Fibre (SI) installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 21 August 2019 (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 a relatively flat trend, achieving 4 week rolling average of 85% and 83% respectively, by week ending 16 August 2019.


* The figures quoted exclude BT downstream connections

Rod Smith