OTA2 Update for July 2019

At the end of July 2019, the number of unbundled lines stands at 10.02 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 a challenging area, with significant focus across industry being applied. There are early signs of the workstack coming back under control and the age profile nudging slightly down. Openreach are delivering record numbers of completions but demand is continuing to grow at a greater rate than we have seen previously.

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

Work on getting to a better delivery journey for Ethernet orders is continuing. CPs have developed a high-level process based on the current EMP workflow with significant amendments to address some of the Openreach stated challenges. They have also reviewed the ‘Stand-alone Survey’ and ‘Self Appointing’ areas to provide insight into the CPs challenges. The next steps will be to bring both Openreach and CPs together to examine how we move things forwards.

Passive Infrastructure Access

Openreach have published their amendments to the Contract and supporting text to accommodate the changes for PIMR. CPs have realised some concerns over the forecasting regime and how this will work with shorter more focused deployments for business.

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.

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.

Openreach have provided CPs with sight of the revised and simplified customer connection price for underground fed premises. This was well received by the CPs. Ofcom may need to consult on any changes as the pricing structure was referenced in the WLA statement, this should not be a significant issue.

SLA/SLG

At the January CFPCG, Openreach informed industry that they wished to review the Missed Appointment charge for WLA products via the OTA2 facilitated process. Openreach have informed OTA2 that due to other priorities affecting the same resource, they have not made the progress anticipated. In view of this, they have withdrawn the proposal. Missed Appointment SLGs, therefore, remain unchanged.

Automatic Compensation

The technical delivery by Openreach, supporting the April launch of the Automatic Compensation was in place for the April launch by those CPs supporting the scheme. Some issues were identified but these did not affected payments to end customers. As no major issues were identified the Industry Working Group has now ceased although bi-lateral calls between Openreach and CPs remain to ensure that any issues are identified promptly for resolution.

Dark Fibre

The final BCMR statement by Ofcom in late June stipulated a Dark Fibre reference offer by Openreach and ‘soft launch’ early August with full launch in January 2020. Industry working group hosted by the OTA2 are proceeding and a draft reference offer has been issued to CPs for comment. It is anticipated that there will be limited scope for changes to the reference offer prior to soft launch, however, there will be ongoing negotiations up until full launch in January.

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.

The programme will also validate CPs’ ability to successfully invoke the Openreach special service restoration process which has been made specially available to help CPs to promptly restore a copper-based phone service to those End Users who have inexplicably ‘lost’ their ‘special service’ (e.g. health surveillance monitor) following migration to a VOIP-based phone service.

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 refine 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 of the 31 July 2019, at which point the stakeholder community will be invited to test the platform.

Improving compliance and tackling complaints

The Number Port Process & Commercial Group (NPP&CG) have now launched the new ‘port override’ process which is designed to counter complaints to Ofcom from subscribers and CPs where a subscriber’s legitimate request to port their number is being inappropriately blocked or frustrated.

Once established this process will allow port orders to be expedited.

Service Levels

Copper & Fibre Provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 6.4, 5.6, and 7.7 working days for Copper, Fibre (MI) and Fibre (SI) installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 26 July 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 an improving trend, achieving 4 week rolling average of 88% and 85% respectively, by week ending 19 July 2019.


* The figures quoted exclude BT downstream connections

Rod Smith