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Openreach UK Raises Price of Highest Maintenance Level 4

Saturday, January 30th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,208

Openreach (BT) plan to increase the wholesale price of their strongest maintenance level across almost all of their broadband and phone products (WLR, LLU, SOGEA and FTTC/P) for UK ISPs, although the change will mainly affect ISPs selling business packages with a stronger commitment to fault repairs.

At present most consumer broadband packages on Openreach’s network tend to come with Service Maintenance Level (SML) 1 or 2 – by default or as chosen via an ISP – and this generally reflects how long the network access provider will take to tackle a faulty line. In simple terms, SML2 means faster repairs, usually within one day, while SML1 could take a day longer.

Naturally, the higher the level, the quicker the repair and thus the greater the cost. As such it’s not uncommon for better quality business focused packages to adopt one of the highest levels, with the top SML4 promising a target fix time of within just 6 hours.

The reality is of course that taking a higher level doesn’t guarantee that the problem itself will be fixed within the stated time, but that’s another story.

Openreach Care Levels

Level 1
Clear by 23.59 day after next, Monday to Friday, excluding Public and Bank Holidays. For example, report Tuesday, clear Thursday.

Level 2
Clear by 23.59 next day, Monday to Saturday, excluding Public and Bank Holidays. For example, report Tuesday, clear Wednesday.

Level 3
Report 13.00, clear by 23.59 same day. Report after 13.00 clear by 12.59 next day, seven days a week, including Public and Bank Holiday.

Level 4
Clear within 6 hours, any time of day, any day of the year.

The bad news is that SML4 is about to get a bit more expensive. For example, SML4 on FTTC, G.fast and FTTP broadband lines will soon see its annual rental jump from £60 +vat to £66.96 and it’s a similar story across a range of the operator’s other products. The change, which follows an earlier price increase, is due to be implemented on 1st May 2021. You can see the related briefing here and the price list here.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar Raz says:

    How openreach have fallen

  2. Avatar Richard says:

    Never knew you could you could be charged different prices relative to a sliding scale in service from good to poor!

    They have too much power and there’s no competition, so they seem to do what they want.

    1. Avatar Jonny says:

      Same day fix and fix within 4 hours are valuable options but not necessary for the average user – hence the different tiers available. Paying more for enhanced support options isn’t an alien concept.

    2. Avatar JP says:

      The market is starting to get more competitive as more wholesale providers move in.

    3. Avatar 125us says:

      I buy last miles all around the world. Every single provider, without fail, charges more for rapid repair; either as an optional extra or baked into the price of a business grade service.

      If rapid repair was mandatory telcos would need 2 or 3 times more field techs. That would significantly push up the price for everyone. The regulators would then question why the government has spent money funding network rollouts to rural and underserved areas only for the prices to be so high that people can’t afford the service.

    4. Avatar Lexx says:

      Richard was making a obvious point that every level is going to charge you more (because we’ll that’s what is going to happen)

      The SML4

      for a year same day fix or hours this is really cheap (I would think SML4 is really only available for real fibre lines or lease lines)

  3. Avatar André says:

    I only wish that you had the option to purchase your level of service at the time of starting a contract with an ISP.
    Some people might be quite happy to pay the £70pcm to have their faults fixed same day…

    1. Avatar Oggy says:

      The article says it’s a yearly charge.

    2. Avatar André says:

      Thank you, I completely missed that!
      Seems like exceedingly good value to me, then? I’d quite happily pay £70 per year to have my connection fixed in 4 hours if anything happened to it…

    3. Avatar Billy Nomates says:

      Andre most business connections come with an SLA.
      Although VM have totally blown it several times and not kept to it for me..

  4. Avatar So you know says:

    Some people here get all hot and bothered about these maintenance levels. BT have been offering enhanced support for those willing to pay for many many years, they use to be called ‘Standard Care’, ‘Prompt Care’ and ‘Total Care’.

  5. Avatar Andrew says:

    Is there a way for consumers to know what level each ISP offers?

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