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BTOpenreach Offer Broadband ISPs the Option of Slower Fault Repairs

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 (11:12 am) - Score 1,252

BTOpenreach, which maintains BT’s national UK telecoms and broadband network, will next month launch a slower fault repair service for MPF fully unbundled ISPs (e.g. Sky Broadband and TalkTalk). Now you might well ask, why would any ISP seek slower fault fixing? To save money, of course.

At present Openreach’s connectivity products are usually sold to ISPs with a pre-assigned Service Maintenance Level (SML) and providers also have the ability to trade-up to a higher SML (Business 2 Plus, SML3 or SML4) to gain access to additional functionality and or faster repairs, although this usually costs extra.

Similarly fully unbundled (MPF) broadband and phone lines are sold with SML2 in tariff, which aims to resolve faults by the end of the next working day (Monday to Saturday, excluding public and bank holidays). But related ISPs will soon have the option to “trade-down” to a lower service quality in order to save money.

Openreach Statement

Following the introduction of MPF SML1, on Sunday 22nd November 2015, CPs will have the option to trade-down (or provide from new as part of a provision order) to a lower SML, offering a slower than current repair time, should a fault occur. Where a fault occurs on an SML1 MPF line, we’ll work to resolve the fault by the end of the working day after the next working day (Monday to Friday, excluding public and bank holidays).

To reflect the increase in fault resolution time on MPF SML1, lines will be subject to a £2.36 discount on annual rental. This will be shown as a new ‘MPF Discounted rental (SML1 in tariff)’ of £85.12 within the MPF price list.

At this point it’s worth noting how some of the biggest ISPs, such as Sky Broadband, have been very vocal about Openreach’s performance with regards to engineering work. In that sense it will be interesting to see whether any of those save providers suddenly preference cost savings above service quality by adopting SML1.

On the flip side it will also be interesting to see what practical difference this makes to Openreach’s average repair times, if any. Some ISPs may perhaps deem that SML1 might not have a material impact upon Openreach’s current service quality, but this is hard to judge.

Granted the savings here are quite small for ISPs, but if you’re a big provider with millions of customers then the temptation to save £2.36 per line might be difficult to resist, albeit coming at the cost of service quality.

However it’s worth pointing out that providers will still have the option to expedite faults to a higher maintenance level on a per occasion basis, albeit at extra cost (£85 +vat to go from SML1 to SML2).

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