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Ofcom Opens Wider Investigation of BT Openreach’s Ethernet Delays

Friday, November 6th, 2015 (11:20 am) - Score 1,300

The UK telecoms regulator has today decided to launch a wider investigation after Vodafone complained that BTOpenreach had failed to meet its obligations to them by both “delaying provision” of its Ethernet (high-capacity data line) services without their consent and then “failing to compensate“.

An initial probe was launched two months ago (here), after Vodafone claimed that Openreach had been using the Deemed Consent mechanism in its contracts (clause 2.3) – this exists to cover a variety of factors that could cause delays (e.g. repairing damaged infrastructure or clearing blocked cable ducts) – to “inappropriately” delay service provision.

Ofcom imposes an obligation upon the national telecoms operator to provide its services “as soon as reasonably practicable and on fair and reasonable terms” and they have today reached a provisional conclusion, which raises a number of concerns about BT’s approach (feedback for this is open until 20th November 2015).

Ofcoms Statement

Our provisional view is that, in light of the above, BT would, in certain circumstances, have been in breach of its SMP obligation to provide its services on fair and reasonable terms and as soon as reasonably practicable.”

An Openreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

Ethernet provision is very complex and errors can occur in the process, though these were neither deliberate nor systematic. We will continue to work with Ofcom ahead of any final decision in its investigation.

We have already proposed significant changes to industry to improve the process and address the issues raised.”

The situation is such that Ofcom has also decided to open a second, much wider, and separate investigation (here) that will also cover a longer period from September 2012 to December 2014 (Vodafone’s complaint reflected the shorter September 2012 to January 2014 period).

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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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20 Responses
  1. Avatar simon bull says:

    Its about time, we still have very poor Internet but the surrounding villages all have fiber or a respectable speed broadband. We have been told we are not financially viable as theres only 60 houses and 4 farms.!!!! Openreach are a waste of time…

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The above article doesn’t really relate to that, did you post in the wrong one?

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    Lets hope rather than just “investigate” they actually do something other than sit around eating biscuits and drinking tea.

  3. “these were neither deliberate nor systematic”

    Cough, splutter…

    From my own personal experience with Openreach they are very much deliberate and systematic when it comes to trying to weasel out of their obligations.

    The first EAD I ordered was around 35 days late and took an email from me to the BT CEO to get the farce sorted – I use the word “farce” as the circuit was basically there around the confirmed delivery date, but just needed them to do the final config (it was in 10 Mbps half-duplex mode and not 100 Mbps full duplex mode). Seven weeks and an email to the BT CEO to get that sorted! As the CEO was involved they fessed up to the penalties with no problem

    The next circuit had fibre already at both ends and so should have been a no-brainer. They got the circuit basically up on the confirmed delivery date, but again it needed the final config. They then updated the status bouncing the “confirmed” delivery date by a month “due to matters beyond reasonable control”. This time the final config was actually done the next working day – so only one day late. However, they initially denied it was their fault and it took a formal escalation to get it sorted and to receive the penalty.

    The next circuit was delivered nearly 40 days late. No status bounce messages at all, just silence until it was complete. On asking about penalties, they said “oh you have to wait as they are assessed the following month”. That month came and went, and heard nothing (not even “no you are not entitled”). I moaned about this and the account manager looked into it and “confirmed” that I was not entitled to anything. I thus escalated it and then they backed down.

    Latest circuit has been the biggest farce to date. Fibre at both ends, so should be no problem. Confirmed contractual delivery date provided ok. Then when they came to do the final install – oh dear, no spare fibre at one end (four fibres, all in use)!!! Cue status bounce “due to matters beyond reasonable control” – Openreach not being able to count is beyond their reasonable control?!? Then they decide the duct is too full “due to matters beyond reasonable control”. Four months later, they “discover” they were looking at the wrong thing and the duct is not full and a draw rope is pulled through! Latest they have decided that other bits of the duct is silted and needs de-silting “due to matters beyond reasonable control” – they have now arranged a “meeting” with the Highways Agency as it seems streetworks is needed. This meeting though is not until 26th January 2016!!

    100% failure rate on delivering on time – could be total and utter incompetence, or dominance abuse (or a mix of both)
    75% weasel rate on attempting to ignore their contractual obligations – which in my view most definitely constitutes “deliberate and systematic” dominance abuse

    1. Avatar Kev says:

      Oft!! Can Ofcom help out with your problems, or at least take your complaints seriously wirelesspacman?

    2. Avatar GNewton says:

      @wirelesspacman: It is a well known fact that BT is in a big mess, see e.g. the following reviews:

      https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/bt.com
      https://business.forums.bt.com/t5/Feedback-general-chat/bd-p/Intros
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/review/products/7.html

      So no surprise to learn about your experience with them.

      It’s time to split up BT and for Openreach to become an independent company which would have to stand on its own feet, and not act like a beggar for taxpayer’s money.

    3. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ GNewton – Your constant BT bashing is tantamount to trolling. Please explain the relevance of your links to Openreach EAD (where the article refers back to the historical issues – there have been major changes/improvements over the last six months).

    4. Avatar Mark says:

      Id personally say considering the story is about poor service and delays by BT Openreach then at least one of his links https://business.forums.bt.com/t5/Feedback-general-chat/bd-p/Intros is more than applicable and demonstrates how truly dire the organisation is not only to Vodafone but businesses in general.

    5. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Oh don’t call gnewton a troll as that is name calling regardless if it’s true. Or maybe it’s just when I say it 🙂

      Good to see others recognising it

    6. Avatar Mark says:

      Picking out an organisations flaws is useful information for potential customers.

      Picking on individuals, name calling and trying to rubbish information they give on an organisation is just petty.

      I can not even comprehend why any poster would feel the need to attack an individual over just pointing to information that shows disgruntled customers of an organisation. Unless they have personal ties to the organisation… obviously!

    7. Avatar AndyH says:

      @ Mark – Gnewton’s links are to irrelevant to this topic. BT Business is not Openreach and I could not see any complaints on that forum about ethernet services.

      Openreach’s issues with ethernet are well documented and acknowledged themselves (at one point there were weekly conference calls with customers and Joe Garner). However major changes have been made and there have been significant improvements to ethernet services.

      To continually attack BT on every news article, irrelevant of the issue and content, is trolling in my book.

    8. Avatar FibreFred says:

      It is indeed as is continously changing user id to post supportive comments of your other id something that carpetburn thinks we can’t spot a mile off

    9. Avatar Mike says:

      “@ Mark – Gnewton’s links are to irrelevant to this topic. BT Business is not Openreach and I could not see any complaints on that forum about ethernet services.”

      They are both BT group companies. His post is no different to moaning about a car dealership over a manufacturers faulty car. (Openreach being the manufacturer and BT Business being the dealership). People will buy from Retail or the Business parts of the BT group, pointing out you will get shoddy service from those is entirely valid to the conversation.

      It demonstrates BT are a group business which has complaints in various divisions of their company. The poster is simply pointing out they as a group are poor.

      “To continually attack BT on every news article, irrelevant of the issue and content, is trolling in my book.”

      No different to how those that support BT will attack Virgin, B4RN and Gigaclear in practically every story then.

      I also personally (NO im not MArk though go ahead with that accusation) fail to comprehend is why supposed attacking of a company would bother anyone to the point they have to personally attack the individual to defend the organisation.

      Its not like they are attacking your family. Unless you are part of that business and ranked pretty highly in the business why would you care or it matter to the point of calling people names and leveling all other kinds of personal accusations?

      Me personally… Any BT supporter can accuse me of whatever you want, shout as many names, call me troll and make accusations as you wish. It makes not a blind bit of difference to me nor will it stop how BT (NO matter the department) are ranked as poor where ever you read about them, including BT Groups Facebook, BT forums or ISP sites like this one, if attacking BT = a person is a troll then this country has plenty of them.

      BT as a group be it BT Consumer, BT Business or Openreach have more than enough of a track record of being rubbish. Calling the odd person a troll and getting mad at them is not going to make them a better business.

    10. Avatar GNewton says:

      The links presented demonstrate that something is currently wrong with BT, most likely caused by Openreach, and possibly it’s other customer facing entities.

      Being called names by a certain user when expressing an opinion (e.g. not to support BT with taxpayer’s money via BDUK) shows the low standards by some of the posters here, and their irrational affection for anything BT.

      wirelesspacman’s experiences with BT are by no means unique, as can be seen from listed review links. The ISPReview reviews section, as well as the other review sites, are doing a good job, as they will show potential new customers to be cautious when dealing with BT. BT is not unique, other telecoms, e.g. Virgin Media, have issues, too. The same is true with some mobile network services, especially Vodafone.

  4. Avatar fastman says:

    Gnewton same spout different day !!!!

    you think it would be any better , effective, cheaper , more choice for you as a consumer !!!! —

  5. Avatar fastman says:

    actually which part of openreach has beeger for taxpayers money —

  6. Avatar fastman says:

    beg for taxpayers money – i though you are a recipient for taxpayers money !!!!

  7. Avatar Mark says:

    Did you really need to make 3 personal attack posts inside 3 minutes!!!

  8. Avatar Magicman says:

    This incessant back & forth trolling between the BT-shills and the anti-BT keyboard warriors is really tiresome. Can we keep it on point?

  9. Avatar Mike says:

    I pointed out a short time back this…
    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2015/10/talktalk-ceo-rubbishes-bts-weak-broadband-and-service-pledges.html#comment-160425

    Looks like it has a high probability of being true for at least Vodafone now Ofcom have looked at some of the info they have presented and decided to dig even deeper.

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