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BT Openreach and UK ISP TalkTalk in Dispute over Unbundled Jumpers

Thursday, July 18th, 2013 (2:52 pm) - Score 2,912

Yes it could be a story linked directly to your home laundry basket but it’s not. TalkTalk has today called in Ofcom to help settle a dispute with BTOpenreach, which has refused to supply a single jumpered solution with their fully unbundled (LLU / MPF) broadband and phone lines that could potentially save UK ISPs tens of millions.

Admittedly this needs some explanation, which is difficult without encumbering our readers with reams of jargon. Suffice to say that this dispute centres on part of the cost for wiring up telephone exchanges to support fully unbundled (MPF) lines, which is the process that affords near total control of the phone line to an ISP.

Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and a number of other ISPs are big fans of fully unbundled lines because, in the longer term, they allow for cheaper phone and broadband services. Currently Openreach offers double jumpering MPF lines that consume “2 jumpers on the MDF, 3 tie cables and 1 TAM” and by contrast a single jumpered method might only consume 1 jumper, 1 tie cable and 1 TAM.

The single jumpered solution would allegedly be a lot cheaper for ISPs to work with and indeed BT’s own Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) product already uses it. Naturally TalkTalk felt that MPF lines should get the same benefit and in May 2012 it duly submitted a Statement of Requirements (“SOR”) to Openreach for just such a solution (in fact we think they’ve tried to do this twice).

Sadly Openreach rejected the request and warned that the development and adoption of a single jumper solution could raise costs for ISPs like Sky or TalkTalk and is thus unlikely to gain wide support. But the ISPs contest this and note that Openreach’s past cost estimates were extremely wide (i.e. anything from a few tens of millions to over £100m).

Ofcoms Statement on the Dispute

TalkTalk asserts that the development of single jumped MPF would deliver significant cost saving that could in turn be passed on to consumers by way of lower prices. [The ISP also] considers that Openreach’s failure to provide the product is a breach of Openreach’s obligations to provide Network Access on reasonable request and to provide Local Loop Unbundling on fair and reasonable request and on fair and reasonable terms.

Ofcom considers that there is a dispute between the parties within the meaning of s185(1A) of the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom considers that the dispute meets the relevant statutory criteria and it is appropriate for Ofcom to handle it according to section 186 of the Act, and accordingly, Ofcom has accepted the dispute for resolution.

A spokesperson for TalkTalk told ISPreview.co.uk today that current MPF lines involve a “more expensive wiring arrangement in the exchange than is necessary” (i.e. double jumpering because here are two ‘jumpers’ across BT’s main distribution frame) and it firmly believes that single jumpering would be a “lower cost alternative” that could save “ISPs and consumers potentially £10s millions and will ensure competition is more effective“.

An Openreach Spokeswoman told ISPreview.co.uk:

We think this is the wrong decision. However, we are firmly of the view that Openreach has been, and remains, fully compliant with all its regulatory obligations in respect of Single Jumper MPF. We will work with Ofcom and others as appropriate.”

Ofcom has said that any interested or relevant parties should notify them by 1st August 2013. As usual no timeframe has been set for settling the dispute and some of these have been known to drag on for quite a while.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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11 Responses
  1. Avatar telecom engineer says:

    Idiotic.
    Current situation is llu equipment is presented on a handover frame which then gets wired to the mdf, at the mdf ACTIVE ports get jumpered into another port going off to thd Test Access Matrix. This then comes back to the mdf and jumpered to a line to customer.
    There are not enough TAMs for every port on the mdf, many hundreds will be dead at a time. Most frames are full and already extended to cope with the llu oversupply. Some building have intermediate frames for llu links do to this which can mean 4 jumpers and tripple job time.
    Either the handover frame needs to be connected direct to the TAM which means millions in tam investment for dead circuits which will raise costs and take years, or you prewire each llu port from mdf to a tam input port so that on activation a tam out to line jumper is run, however this still means extra tam investment but also requires extra ports on the mdf, which will be too small so an intermediate frame is then required raising costs and increasing jumpers required.
    LLU can get the single jumper situation bt have historically by either paying for the connection which bt have or wholesaling bt ports.
    Silly to be expecting another company to deliver high efficiency services but not willing to pay. Tiresome.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      So it sounds like yet more squeezing from TalkTalk trying to wring ever last penny out of its dying tech

  2. Avatar Eye to the left says:

    Instead of spending millions with Huawei on a Filtering platform they want to try investing into their own network rather than trying to screw BT over who incidentally aren’t much better. Thank god for Virgin (Cough!) I don’t think so.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      They aren’t interested, instead of 100% leeching from BT they decided to spend a fair few bob on investing in LLU. They want to get as much out of that as possible so go crying to Ofcom at every opportunity to try to squeeze as much out of BT as possible.

      Maybe if they became a better ISP instead of being at the top end of the most complained about they’d get more customers and their profits would look better.

  3. Avatar telecom engineer says:

    Wow.. I gotta stay off the sauce. Mods please mop up those posts above.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      heheheh 😀

  4. Avatar telecom engineer says:

    Thankyou

  5. Avatar zemadeiran says:

    Why not just go 100% ip over fibre?

    All this mdf jumper bullshit would then be null and void.

    Alcatel Lucent just pushed 31Tbps down a several hundred KM hollow fiber.

    All the BT/Openreach exchanges can then be converted to DC’s.

  6. Avatar Telecom engineer says:

    Never gonna happen. This is about Lou wantin to save a couple of quid. Getting the investment will be impossible. Bt are doing voice over fibre on FTP and soon FTC voice will go over the fibre. But there isn’t the capacity or economic case to provide that capacity and ditch the copper voice concs at exchanges.

  7. Avatar Zemadeiran says:

    That makes no sense…

    BT’s core as you know is completely ip I.e colossas, so why bring up the limited bandwidth myth?

    Ditching physical connects is a no brainer and inevitable.

    What is interesting is all that freed up exchange space and how it could be monetized 🙂
    I reckon about 90% free up what do you think?

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