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UPDATE Fluidata Complain of BT Openreach UK Fibre Leased Line Delay

Thursday, Aug 21st, 2014 (8:11 am) - Score 2,400

Business ISP Fluidata has criticised the “endemic problems plaguing” current and future fibre leased line provisioning from BTOpenreach, which have seen existing issues combine with rising demand for related services to create some extremely long waiting times for the providers customers.

It’s understood that BT formally notified ISPs on the extent of problems last Tuesday, which are claimed to be centred on a combination of issues from a lack of planning and field based engineer resource to problems with the effectiveness of certain third party contractors (note: Openreach recently began an investigation to look at the latter – here).

On top of that the rising demand for related services, which has been driven by the Government’s Connection Vouchers scheme (i.e. grants of up to £3,000 to help individual firms get superfast broadband) and recent changes by Openreach to replace the sliding scale of Excess Construction Charges (up to £2,800) on their point-to-point Ethernet Access Direct (EAD) products with a simple balancing charge of £548 +vat (here), is putting more strain on BTOR.

Fluidata states that these problems have been “apparent to those within the industry for some time” and they’re cautiously pleased to see Openreach at least acknowledge that such issues do exist. The CEO of Openreach, Joe Garner, said, “There are a number of pressure points in the Ethernet provision process, such as deemed consent that we feel is suboptimal for everyone“.

Some of the planned improvements are already common knowledge, such as Openreach’s move to recruit 1,600 new UK engineers (here) and Ofcom’s stiffer Quality of Service requirements (here). The recruitment drive will also extend to BTOR’s planning department and they similarly intend to streamline their internal processes to focus on orders in accordance to their contract delivery date. Some staff will sadly have to do more overtime. But concerns remain over how effective the proposed remedies will be.

Simon Matthews, Fluidata’s Customer Success Manager, said:

Despite their positive actions, they are still no closer to an ETA for resolution on these issues and unfortunately that means that what was once a 30 working days product is now leaning more towards being a 60 working days product, and that’s if things are going according to plan. As for the projects that require additional work, re-planning, wayleave approval etc. further complications occur for a second time by increased delays and install times being pushed back, meaning a typical average install time of 65 working days could now be much closer to 100 or 130 working days.

Of course Fluidata will continue to drive BTOR for better service and lead times but for now, at least, we will continue to see longer than usual lead times. As such we would urge customers to allow much time as possible for any fibre provision or consider contingency options, particularly for any time critical installs. With a product portfolio encompassing a wide array of DSL, VDSL, wireless, bonded and EFM solutions, here at Fluidata we should be able to cater for any temporary or even mid to long term requirement should the BTOR problems have an impact on your connectivity provision plans.”

At the same time it’s also worth remembering that Openreach’s engineers are being kept busy by the national roll-out of new consumer services across the United Kingdom, such as Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology. Lest we not forget that winter is ahead and that often adds additional strain, with bad weather causing a slowdown as engineers need to be re-tasked to focus on repairs instead of new provisions.

As Fluidata says, it could take a while before this problem can truly be considered resolved.

UPDATE 10:02am

Openreach has given us their position on the matter, which is stated below.

A BTOpenreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

As recently stated, Openreach is committed to providing transparency and part of that is giving our CP customers greater visibility of our business, including the inherent challenges.

One of the initiatives is fortnightly CEO update conference calls with all CPs. The comments from Fluidata reflect the fact that we are sharing our position regularly and openly with CPs – which we think is a good thing.”

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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