Telecommunications Adjudicator update for April 2020

An update on the principle areas of project activity being led by OTA2 in April 2020.

At the end of April 2020, the number of unbundled lines stands at 9.79 million. There are 4.27 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 1.995 million.*

Impact of Covid-19

As reported last month the challenges of Covid-19 continue for industry and its customers. Distressed customers have placed major asks on industry as all parties find ways to best support this situation. A number of initiatives have been launched with OTA2 supporting where possible. Some of these initiatives are detailed in the report below. The OTA2 have continued with a variety of online approaches for our normal meetings. We will continue to monitor the situation with a view to either extending this approach or reverting to normal mix of meetings and calls/online engagement.

Please all keep safe and well.


Openreach as with all the other products have declared MBORC with the Covid-19 crisis. Orders are being managed in order of their priority against the published set of criteria with Critical National Infrastructure at the top. Where possible Openreach are working to deliver normal services to a position as close to the curtilage of the customers premises as possible, with an aim of being able to complete as quickly as possible once we see the restrictions lifted.

Openreach have made a commercial offer to enable CPs to ‘soft cease using a loop back’ to enable SME End User customers some financial relief. The CP community have raised some practical issues with its utilisation and the associated restart costs which have been fed back to Openreach.

Additionally, Openreach have deactivated the 90-day auto cancellation clocks on customer suspends on the EMP system to ensure that orders caught up in no access issues due to Covid-19 are not affected by a system guillotine.

Reimagining Ethernet Programme (REP)

CPs have requested and Openreach have granted an additional period for formal response to the Openreach REP documentation. CPs are requested to provide their formal feedback by the end of May.

Passive Infrastructure Access

Systems development remains a key area of focus for Openreach and the scale builders in the PIA community. The working group continues to work with Openreach to review how accreditation is working, Openreach announced that they have enacted changes with their external training and accreditation agents to allow CPs to send trained people for accreditation without having to undertake training and accreditation as a package.

Openreach have also made changes to the rules surrounding poles, the upper envelope available space has been adjusted to provide better accommodation, a new halo ring has been developed to facilitate conversion of crown top poles and CPs will be enabled, subject to accreditation, to make adjustments to the Top Bass Step and remove redundant equipment (there are some very clear criteria to follow)

We continue to work with Openreach and the CPs in bedding down PIA post the reference offer and resolving the teething problems with the operation of the product. There are active discussions on Auditing, T2R Processes and Forecasting.

Copper and Fibre

Adjustments have been made to meeting types and scheduling to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. To date there has been no significant impact to ongoing engagement and participation has been higher than usual.

Overall, most areas of dialogue across Developments, Products and Commercial are progressing well, although some trials and Proof of Concepts have been affected by Covid-19.

The Openreach concerns to proactive testing and subsequent fault reporting by industry remains an area of discussion and contention. Efforts are underway on both sides to seek a resolution. Industry has also initiated a formal OTA2 facilitated review of the 28-Day Repeat Fault SLG previously negotiated in 2016 as industry considers that the original Openreach assumptions regarding a network fault followed by another network fault (but with different clear code) have proved inaccurate.

Dark Fibre

Post full-launch agreement has been reached regarding the definitions affecting usage and allowable topologies, which have now been notified by Openreach and the relevant product information updated. Industry had awaited the output of an Openreach policy review regarding how fibre exhaustion, migration or the process assessing any case for fibre augmentation will be addressed. Openreach has reiterated its position that Fibre re-use migrations will not be offered as part of DFX, but that it will continue to monitor demand. In scenarios where fibre is exhausted, Openreach has stated it will assess the requirement to provide new fibre on a case-by-case basis.

Consumer Switching and Number Porting

EECC Fixed Line Switching and Porting Working Group (ECWG)

The European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) will update and replace the existing EU regulatory framework for electronic communications within the UK. At Ofcom’s instigation, OTA2 convened an industry working group (ECWG) with the task of developing a new Gaining Provider-led switching process which Consumers will use when switching within or between different access infrastructures.

Under OTA2’s stewardship, industry submitted the more detailed proposals which Ofcom requested, in order that they may complete a thorough evaluation of the two solutions proposed and make an informed decision thereafter. Ofcom’s evaluation remains in progress at the current time.

Right to Port

A separate ECWG workstream is underway to address an additional EECC requirement to deliver the changes needed to afford an End User the new ‘right to port’ their number to a new provider for a period of up to 31 calendar days following service termination with their previous provider.

OTA2 have developed a detailed requirements specification which has been distributed to each of the major CPs who will be developing their existing automation to fulfil the ‘right to port’ requirement.

Number Preservation

Openreach have made an offer to CPs which is designed to support the small business community (SMEs), in the event that they need to terminate their services for a short period until the Covid-19 impact abates.

A key part of the offer is to ‘preserve’ the SME’s number(s) for up to 150 days so that it can be readily re-instated if the SME subsequently requests a re-start. Number retention is a key requirement for the business community and Ofcom asked OTA2 to engage with industry to help facilitate the process changes needed.

Industry discussions are ongoing but, as it stands, the number preservation facility for all WLR single line numbers will be established with effect from 1 May 2020.

Service Levels

Copper and Fibre provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 29, 3.6 and 3.6, working days for Copper, Fibre (MI) and Fibre (SI) installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 26 April 2020 (vs backstop SLA of 12 working days).

Copper FAD performance has been significantly impacted by special measures having to be imposed by Openreach to counter the spread of the Covid-19 virus and to protect their field engineers.

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

Copper Repair

LLU and WLR ‘on time repair’ performance has continued to improve, achieving a 4-week rolling average of 89 % and 85 % respectively, by week ending 17 April 2020.

*The figures quoted exclude BT downstream connections