Telecommunications Adjudicator update for May 2020

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

See the latest charts

At the end of May 2020, the number of unbundled lines stands at 9.74 million. There are 4.27 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS is 2.009 million.*

Impact of Covid-19

The challenges of Covid-19 continue for industry and its customers albeit that there has been a progressive return for operations. OTA2 have continued with a variety of online approaches for our normal meetings. We anticipate that all industry fora that we host, will remain online until the end of August and maybe beyond. We will continue to monitor the situation with a view to either extending this approach or reverting to a normal mix of meetings and calls/online engagement.

Please all keep safe and well.


Openreach has in line with the other products began to lift some of the restriction’s in relation to non-Critical National Infrastructure work. Openreach is moving to free up as much of the standard workflow as is possible, whilst remaining within safe working practices for both engineers and customers. Jobs will progress to completion unless the engineer feels that there is something which creates an undue risk to themselves or the customers.

Reimagining Ethernet Programme (REP)

The CP responses to the REP consultation are now beginning to be returned to Openreach and will be reviewed and considered over the next couple of weeks. Openreach are beginning to review how they can model the order flows and assess what a post REP order journey would look like from a certainty and risk point of view.

Passive Infrastructure Access

Systems development remains a key area of focus for Openreach and the scale builders in the PIA community. Openreach have announced plans to open their CVF facility for CP developers to use in testing of the API interfaces and functionality for automation.

Openreach have launched a POC trial to test the changes allowing CPs to undertake Top Bass Step lowering and removal of obvious obsolete equipment. Four CPs have registered, and the first orders have been received. In addition, Openreach have reassessed the rules defining the upper space envelope on the poles making more space available for all users of the facility. This change has been welcomed by the CPs.

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.

Copper and Fibre

Adjustments have been made to meeting types and scheduling to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and these arrangements have been extended until end-August.

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. Openreach has collated CP views and suggestions on ways forward and will provide an initial response in June.

Openreach have responded to the CP concerns regarding 28-Repeat rates for a network fault followed by a further network fault (but with different clear code), which had been raised formally under the OTA2 facilitated process. The latest Openreach analysis would appear to show a dramatic reduction in volume, which they believe is attributable to Question Based Closure and changes in processes around testing and fault closure. CPs are currently reviewing the Openreach analysis.

Openreach informed the CFPCG that by June 2021 it will have 118 exchanges (including Salisbury) that will meet the criterion of having greater than 75% coverage on ultrafast and that Openreach, therefore, aim to issue stop sell notices on non-ultrafast products to those premises that have ultrafast availability. The timeframe for the notification is June 2020, for a stop sell to come into effect June 2021. This will also affect upgrades and migrations.

Dark Fibre

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. CPs have expressed their concern regarding the lack of transparency on the decision making criteria for investments in extra capacity on exhausted routes and questioned whether active and passive products would be treated equally, being concerned that there could be a bias (conscious and unconscious) toward active products on both financial and competition grounds.

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.

More recently, Ofcom have tabled a small number of specific questions relating to each of the 2 solutions proposed and OTA2 have been asked to re-engage the 2 industry groups concerned (X & Y Groups) to respond to the questions posed by 8 June 2020.

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.

Despite Ofcom’s recent announcement to relax the original timeline for industry to meet the new EECC requirements (i.e. in light of the pandemic impact), OTA2 and industry are keen to implement the R2P enhancement as soon as possible as it will eliminate a significant industry cost of failure whilst providing a much better End Customer experience.

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.

In support of the Openreach offer, the number preservation facility for all WLR single line numbers was successfully introduced with effect from 1 May 2020, ensuring such numbers may be swiftly re-instated to any ‘returning’ SMEs. Although the Openreach offer terminates at the end of June 2020, any associated numbers will be ‘preserved’ until end of September 2020.

WLR withdrawal and move to all IP

The latest steering/main group was held on 21 May 2020. It was attended by about 180 people and extensively covered the two trials at Mildenhall and Salisbury, best practice guide, forced migration and the recently announced stop sell of a further 117 exchanges. The OTA2 will now work with Openreach to set up follow up working groups and further stakeholder engagement.

Service Levels

Copper and Fibre provision

Openreach FAD (First Available Appointment Date) performance nationally, has been averaging 5.6, 3.8 and 4.3, working days for Copper, Fibre (MI) and Fibre (SI) installations respectively, over the 5-day period ending 20 May 2020 (vs backstop SLA of 12 working days).

(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 91 % and 90 % respectively, by week ending 15 May 2020.

*The figures quoted exclude BT downstream connections