Telecommunications Adjudicator Update for October 2006

I am very pleased to report that within days of the publication of this update we will have exceeded One Million Lines Unbundled in the UK. This is a major achievement for the LLUOs, BT/Openreach, Ofcom and the OTA Team. The OTA set a target for the end of 2006 of a million lines unbundled; achieving this will be a source of great satisfaction. I want to thank my executives Clive Fedida and Jim Reilly for their leadership, continuous focus and hard work in making the OTA Scheme and LLU successful.

The Tactical Automation Platforms remain stable. The EMP Platform is delivering increasing volumes of orders, albeit currently with lower than acceptable end to end Right First Time results. Co-Mingling and Backhaul Delivery remain stable but still short of agreed targets.

I reported last month that a number of Quality of Service measures were causing severe concern. For example the Right First Time delivery of Business As Usual (BAU) unbundled lines was 78% (currently 81%) against a target of 98%.

As I was sceptical following previous assurances that had not come to fruition, I requested a Service Improvement Paper & Plan from Openreach that would set out all the improvement & ongoing stability plans for LLU and that it should cover Plan & Build; Backhaul Delivery; BAU Unbundled Loop Delivery; EMP, and Assurance (Repair) Performance.

A Service Improvement Paper & Plan has been presented that the OTA believes is credible; that Steve Robertson, CEO of Openreach is confident will address the majority of outstanding Quality of Service issues in reasonably short timescales; and that the OTA are prepared to endorse.

The Plan has short term goals in the context of longer term improvement targets. Our main concern is the longer term sustainability and continuous improvement programmes that will be required to ensure the improved performance will be embedded in ‘The Way Openreach Do Business’. The longer term plans do not yet define, in some cases, when Quality will be restored to the Industry Agreed quality levels.

However we do think this plan will address a number of key deficiencies and set Openreach on an improvement curve that, if sustained, will improve operating quality substantially. We will be monitoring the performance of the Plan very closely; we have noticed green shoots of improvement in the OTA RFT KPI over last two weeks. The Plan has been communicated to LLUO executives.

Migration problems for customers continue to be reported where the losing provider of service is based on LLU. OTA in conjunction with Ofcom and Openreach have set up and are coordinating a cross-industry plan involving LLU operators, IPStream Resellers and BT Wholesale to allow inter-product migrations to take place seamlessly.

Bulk Migration throughput volumes have stabilised in the last few weeks. Unfortunately RFT Delivery had deteriorated significantly; some recovery is evident in the last week. Openreach and OTA are very concerned; the problem may be down to particular Regions and Openreach are focussing remedial action on these Regions.

Backhaul Delivery performance has continued to improve and is very close to meeting agreed targets.

Comingling PoP delivery to CDD (Contracted Delivery Date) and CRD (Customer Required Date) have stabilised at a level which is significantly (i.e.10-15%) below the agreed targets. The primary root cause has been identified by Openreach and actions are in hand to remedy the situation accordingly.

The new EMP release, R300 has now been implemented.

Although increasing numbers of LLUOs are using EMP, some are finding it a difficult experience and are reluctant to ramp up their volumes whilst so many issues exist. Openreach is trying hard to bring the platform up to a satisfactory performance level but cannot currently predict when this might be. OTA has recommended Openreach urgently assigns clear end to end ownership to this task in order to restore LLUO confidence in this essential programme.

To date, the amount of downtime due to ‘scheduled activity’ has been a major cause for concern for the LLUOs and is under review with Openreach. This is being addressed in SLA discussions with LLUOs.

There are no Disputes in progress with the OTA at the present time.

I am very pleased that we are on the brink of achieving One Million Unbundled Lines; however the key to success continues to be; getting the Right First Time KPI back on track for BAU through the successful execution of the Service Improvement Plan from Openreach and the successful full introduction of EMP and the CPs’ transition to it.

OTA will continue to focus on:1) The Openreach Service Improvement Plan that covers Business as Usual Line Delivery; 2) Assurance; 3) Backhaul & Co-mingling Delivery Quality; 4) EMP Plans & Delivery and 5) Migrations Processes.

Peter McD. Black

Telecommunications Adjudicator