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Openreach Playing Catch-up With 2 Ethernet Minimum Service Targets

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 2,161
fibre optic cable connections at BT Openreach

Openreach (BT) is at risk of missing two of the key Minimum Service Level (MSL) targets for their high bandwidth Ethernet product family (e.g. Ethernet Access Direct), which were agreed with the UK network operator as part of Ofcom’s 2016 Business Connectivity Market Review (BCMR).

Firstly, credit where credit is due. Openreach has made some very good progress in hitting the majority of Ofcom’s requirements for quality of service (MSLs) and they have moved the dial significantly from where they were when the new targets were published.

One of the best examples of this progress is their ability to fix 94.34% of repair jobs within the agreed timescales (5 hours), which is impressive when you consider that this is a fibre optic based Ethernet repair that must occur within 5 hours, 24/7 and anywhere in the United Kingdom. On top of that they aren’t allowed to remove faults from the stats due to major outages under MBORC (Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control).

Nevertheless Openreach do appear to be at risk of missing two of their large business focused Ethernet connectivity targets for Year 2.

Area of service Year 1 target
(1 May 2016 – 31 Mar 2017)
Year 2
(1 Apr 2017 – 31 Mar 2018)
Year 3
(1 Apr 2018 – 31 Mar 2019)
Circuits that take the longest time to deliver No more than 3% of circuits delivered by Openreach can take more than 159 working days No more than 118 working days No more than 118 working days
Circuits we deliver by the original date we agreed We must deliver 80% of circuits on the original date we agreed with the customer 85% 90%

According to Openreach’s own KPI tracking to 30th of September 2017 (here), some 7.56% of circuits took over 118 working days to deliver (target is <3%) and 76.12% of circuits are being installed on the originally agreed delivery date (target is 85%). These are all supposed to be MINIMUM service levels and therefore not what Openreach should merely be aspiring to achieve (more like exceed), never mind miss.

The breakdown by region shows that the <3% target is suffering its biggest problem in Scotland, where 14.10% of circuits are now taking over 118 working days to install (this may be partly related to the difficult rural terrain and volatile weather conditions). Meanwhile it’s a similar story on the 85% target for circuit delivery, which is just 68.44% in Scotland and seems to be suffering a UK wide fall in performance.

Some of the operators that ISPreview.co.uk has spoken with were also concerned that Ofcom might not be doing enough to ensure that the regulated targets are met, which probably hasn’t been helped by the turbulence caused by last year’s collapse of the Dark Fibre and related 2016 BCMR proposals (here). Despite this, Ofcom informed us that they would still be holding Openreach to account, albeit not until March 2019.

A Spokesperson for Ofcom told ISPreview.co.uk:

“The targets we set are important safeguards, and we expect Openreach to hit them. We closely monitor its performance, and Openreach has until March 2019 to improve its performance to the levels we have set. If it fails to meet these standards, it could face penalties.”

As part of this article we did attempt to contact Openreach’s media office (5th Jan 2018) in order to seek some assurance that their commitments could still be achieved and to clarify why they were falling short in some areas. Unfortunately the operator has not responded. Ofcom have the power to fine for breach of MSLs (up to 10% of BT Group’s revenue).

Despite this we really must once again give credit to Openreach for hitting their other targets, some of which have been very difficult to achieve, although there’s clearly more work to be done and for the time being Ofcom are being quite patient.

In the meantime some operator’s remain frustrated. As one industry source told us of the 85% target, “This is a measure of certainty of delivery date rather than speed of delivery. For some customers this is more important than how long it takes because you have to plan significant other work around delivery of the Ethernet circuits. In this case it may be academic whether it takes 29 days or 118 days, you just want to know that when they give you a date they will hit it.

openreach_bcmr_targets_sept_2017

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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