OTA2 Update for October 2008

At the end of October, the number of unbundled lines now stands at 5.29 million. The rate of growth has increased appreciably in recent weeks primarily due to an increase in bulk migrations (i.e. from IPstream to LLU). There are 5.18 million WLR lines and the number of telephone numbers using CPS dipped to 4.29 million.

Equivalence Management Platform: Unfortunately, we are still unable to provide any significant update to the situation with regard to the EMP development bottleneck. Openreach have advised that the next build, R1000, will be delivered two weeks later than originally planned to allow a period of stability following some recent unplanned outages on the EMP platform, this is a sensible precaution and we fully support the Openreach decision. When R1000 is delivered, Openreach will cease support of older builds from R400 backwards.

We have previously reported concerns over the capabilities that will be available in future releases of EMP and how and when CP requirements will be delivered. Openreach are still reviewing the options which would give the best outcome and whilst we said last month that we hoped to be able to report an improved picture in this update, we have still not yet had the result of the Openreach deliberations. At a recent OTA2 Executive meeting, Openreach advised that they would be able to share the 2009 EMP roadmap at the December 08 Executive meeting.

However, the proposed new Openreach (technology) forum that will focus on developing a different strategy which overcomes these issues has now been arranged. The key weakness the forum will concentrate on is to improve CPs ability to consume new functionality as soon as it becomes available.

Product Development – Openreach & Industry continue to collaborate closely on a number of key development work streams, although ultimate delivery will be constrained by the wider issue outlined above.

Specific updates as follows:

  • Directory Entries – The industry review and update of the work to provide a strategic solution to the problems surrounding the preservation of directory entries took place on 30 October in Birmingham. The feedback from the session was very positive from the industry attendees. The only slight disappointment was the attendance from Industry which was not as good as expected. OTA2 support Openreach’s attempts to communicate out in the regions rather than have a London centric approach. Industry now needs to support with attendance. The next review will be held on 24 November 2008.
  • Resource Planning – Following a study into this subject by OTA2 during the summer, Openreach has drafted a ‘Code of Practice’ for both Industry and Openreach to sign up to with the aim of improving forecast accuracy. The initial draft is currently being circulated with comments required by the end of November.
  • Ethernet – Progress is being made on the Ethernet Subgroup Workstreams on issues associated with excess construction charges (ECCs), reporting, fibre mapping, and pricing/contractual issues. OTA2 will continue to actively participate in the programme management of the key Ethernet issues to ensure that assigned actions are completed in a timely manner and that tangible improvements are made.
  • Service Harmonisation - The Cross Industry Working (i.e. LLU/WLR/OR) group continues to progress this development, albeit the task is proving very complex & therefore difficult. Essentially the objective is to establish a single (harmonised) set of WLR/LLU repair products which on the one hand satisfies the needs of CPs (including pricing) and, on the other hand, enables Openreach to deploy its finite resources in the most efficient manner.

    This programme is critically dependent on the outcome of two trials which are now underway with active participation from CPs. Openreach will be presenting a view of the high-level programme milestones (inc. feasibility completion) to complete the Service Harmonisation journey, at the next OTA2 Executive meeting

Exchange Space and Power - A range of concerns had been expressed by CPs relating to accommodation issues within LLU Exchanges. A series of Openreach sponsored product and process enhancements are already underway, which have been broadly welcomed by CPs. It is however, not yet fully apparent whether the associated commercial terms surrounding the products will fully meet the expectations of CPs. This will be an area subject to consultation by Openreach and we will continue to work with CPs and Openreach to ensure issues are resolved.

Blocked Frames - Openreach have recently raised the issue of blocked frames. They have engaged industry and OTA2 to develop a commercial option to release capacity. This will be trialled shortly to assess its effectiveness.

Next Generation Access (NGA) – The September Ofcom-hosted NGA event was well attended and clearly demonstrated to all concerned the high level of interest shared by a very wide range of stakeholders. This event was immediately followed by the release of Ofcom’s consultation document – ‘Delivering super-fast broadband in the UK’. The closing date for responses to this consultation is 2 December 2008. OTA2 will continue to facilitate industry engagement with regards to NGA and its evolution.

OTA2 Strategy for 2009 - The OTA2 has distributed their draft strategy to the stakeholder community, which includes the CP community, Ofcom and Openreach for comment by 10 November 2008. The document details the strategic focus and priority areas for the OTA2 during the calendar year 2009 and has been created based on both existing work and on feedback from stakeholders.

Migrations Programme
The overall Headline Migrations KPI has resumed a positive trend and is now consistently inside the target.

The key remaining stepping stones towards further improving the end user experience and reducing the overall cost of failure (to Industry) are:

  • Flexi-Cease - Introduction of Flexible Cease and it’s full adoption by CPs – This has now been implemented (31 Oct)
  • Synchronised Cease – This enhancement ensures the SMPF line is ceased at the same time as the associated PSTN. This has now been implemented (31 Oct)
  • Simultaneous Provide - CP adoption of enhanced Sim Provide process (by end 2008)
  • Dialogue Services – CP adoption of all available Dialogue Services
  • New ‘Tag Support model’ - Establishment of new Openreach Tags Resolution Facility (OTRF) and CP transition to it. Transition plan underway and due to complete 30 November.

Once these final deliverables have bedded in, the expectation is that the ‘Tags’ problem will have diminished to an acceptable level and will be managed by ‘business as usual’ support channels thereafter.

The Migrations Programme Board (MPB) will continue to develop the ‘Best Practice Guide for Broadband Migrations & Home moves’. The current version of the Guide is now available via the OTA Web-site

Migrations - forward look: Through the Migrations Programme Board, OTA2 will continue to work with Industry stakeholders to develop the Best Practice Guide and to monitor Industry’s adoption/compliance. Further process development is needed to ensure End Users can seamlessly migrate their services between LLU, 21C and NGA platforms once they are deployed.

OTA2 will continue to enlist Ofcom enforcement (General Condition 22) support as necessary to ensure ALL stakeholders stay focused.

Service Levels - Our KPI charts have been updated to include the current ‘stair-case’ targets which Openreach have signed-up to. Service Levels were generally stable throughout the month although MPF repair performance continues to lag SMPF and is falling short of the agreed staircase target. Openreach have explained that four key ‘right first time’ initiatives are due to ‘kick-in’ from October and are confident that performance will quickly improve.

EMP Performance Issues

EMP stability continues to give concern to the extent that Openreach have postponed the planned R1000 release by two weeks to allow more time for various improvement activities to take effect and normal stability levels to be restored.

A number of CPs have stressed the importance of ‘not’ embarking on a major system upgrade (i.e. R1000) until Openreach can successfully demonstrate that the risk to stability is very low.

OTA2 will continue to focus on:

  • Key Product development programmes
  • EMP issues (in-life & development)
  • WLR3 Roadmap to achieve WLR2 parity
  • Best practice migrations processes & CP adoption
  • Service levels (LLU/WLR/Ethernet)
  • NGA
  • Exchange Space & Power – Capacity & Flexibility issues
  • Forecasting improvement


Rod Smith