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BBC Watchdog Hammers BT Openreach for Poor Communication and Delays

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 (8:24 pm) - Score 16,214
bbc_watchdog

Tonight’s episode of the BBC’s popular consumer affairs TV show, Watchdog, took BTOpenreach’s “promises to keep the nation connected” to task and heavily criticised the group for failing to fix broadband and phone problems and for not being directly contactable.

Openreach, which is effectively responsible for maintaining BT’s national UK phone and broadband network, generally doesn’t communicate directly with end-users (except in some circumstances) and as a result most people that suffer from a fault are forced to go through their ISP instead (i.e. the company you have a contract for service with) but this isn’t always effective.

The poor level of direct communication and long service delays were both covered in the programme, which also reminded viewers that Ofcom are currently reviewing Openreach’s quality of service (here). The regulator proposes to tackle the issues by requiring Openreach to publish better performance reports and meet “specific performance standards” for new line installations and fault repairs (sanctions might be applied if they fail to deliver).

A Spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk (July 2013):

Openreach is committed to delivering high levels of customer service. Openreach is already highly transparent in its service level reporting to industry and agrees this detail should be shared with consumers and businesses.”

The review is actually part of a collection of reviews into the country’s fixed telecoms markets and Ofcom expects to post the conclusions from all of these by spring 2014 (note: it was Ofcom that mandated BT’s original undertakings to create Openreach).

At the same time it’s worth remembering that maintaining the country’s national telecoms network is a complex job and extreme weather (e.g. flooding, snow etc.) can often cause significant disruption. Similarly any operator that covers the whole country is bound to attract quite a few gripes and indeed Openreach said that it carries out 166,000 “transactions” a week.

UPDATE 31st October 2013

You can now watch the episode on iPlayer – HERE.

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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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