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Tech Mahindra to Underpin New UK Broadband ISP Switching System

Tuesday, Feb 20th, 2024 (12:43 pm) - Score 3,240
switching_between_broadband_providers_image

The industry-led One Touch Switching Company (TOTSCo) has signed a strategic partnership with Indian firm Tech Mahindra to design, build and operate a message exchange platform for the UK telecom industry, which will underpin the much delayed One Touch Switch (OTS) system for easier and quicker consumer switching between ISPs.

In case anybody has missed the past news. Ofcom are presently very angry with UK broadband ISPs – particularly the largest four players (BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Virgin Media) – for having so far missed several deadlines to introduce their OTS migration system for consumers (here). Part of the problem stems from the fact that it took far too long for the industry to launch TOTSCo and then develop the necessary platform to support it.

NOTE: TOTSCo is a not-for-profit member owned company established by the UK telecommunications industry to deliver switching processes for fixed broadband and voice services.

However, we aren’t going to rehash all of that today, since the big news is that TOTSCo has finally announced that Tech Mahindra will be the company that ultimately designs, builds and operates the new message exchange platform (i.e. handling most of the communications / processes between ISPs to support switching) for OTS – known as the TOTSCo Hub.

The platform they develop, which is to adopt a cloud-native architecture for security and scalability, is to be used by all UK retail communications service providers to enable the new OTS process for residential fixed broadband and voice services. Although business providers aren’t strictly obliged to use this Hub, they still have to offer a gaining-provider-led process, so it seems likely they’ll adopt the same process to avoid duplication.

Vikram Nair, President – EMEA Business, Tech Mahindra, said:

Ofcom has laid out a clear task for the communications industry to provide gainer-led, one-touch switching for residential customers. Through this strategic partnership, Tech Mahindra will develop an industry wide messaging platform, TOTSCo Hub, enabling customers to switch between communication providers seamlessly.

The partnership will leverage Tech Mahindra’s extensive telecom expertise, particularly in handling end-to-end switching services, alongside cutting-edge IT technology and services to establish a messaging platform.”

Paul Bradbury, CEO of TOTSCo, said:

“We are pleased to partner with Tech Mahindra to deliver a secure, robust, and reliable platform that will play a central role in UK residential fixed broadband and voice switching. We chose to partner with Tech Mahindra following a rigorous procurement exercise and I am confident that together we will deliver to industry the right solution at the right cost.”

Just to be clear about something, the TOTSCo Hub has been in development and advanced testing behind the scenes for a while, so today’s news is more about confirming which company will ultimately take on responsibility for running the Hub once completed. This is a crucial piece of news since, until now, there was still a question mark over the final implementation.

Now all we need is a final launch date for the OTS system, preferably one with a credible chance of being achieved.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam says:

    At least they are getting cheaper prices and at scale

    If this was down to ofcom then they would balloon costs by 20x, complain that people aren’t sending them data even though they just “missed” the emails and then hire a few dozen heads of diversity in the process

  2. Avatar photo drevilbob says:

    Jesus the same company that manages Three’s Core Support team in the backend, they’re not great to say the least.

  3. Avatar photo Iain says:

    Ooft, a bit late in the day to be *starting* development

  4. Avatar photo No Name says:

    That’s all we need more Indian call centres

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      This isn’t for consumer use.

      ISPs will be using this service to communicate migrations.

      Xenophobia based upon ignorance.

    2. Avatar photo Anon 2 says:

      Hardly, “xenophobia based on ignorance, more like septicism based on bitter experience. The point that there’s no consumer call centre is valid, but there will still be a support need to ISPs, and it’s a reasonable guess that will be offshore. Moreover, I’ve worked with enough companies using offshore developers to know that offshore = poor quality. Contracts are never fixed price, so the vendor benefits from delay and change. Staff turnover levels in the Indian tech industry are two or three or four times higher than the UK, meaning poor continuity, no training (as there’s no point!), inexperienced staff, and staff who don’t share any of the goals of either the on-shore customer, or the offshore tech provider.

      Maybe it will be delivered on time, on budget, and high quality. But I doubt it. Not only has software development been cheapshored, but there is no enthusiasm from industry. They won’t be putting their best people on this.

  5. Avatar photo Eccles says:

    https://totsco.org.uk/2023/03/31/bulletin-no-3/ “TOTSCo is pleased to announce that it is now entering a short period of exclusive negotiations with Tech Mahindra, to conclude a contract for the design and build of the TOTSCo Hub”….nearly a year later hat ‘short’ period must have concluded.

  6. Avatar photo The facts says:

    Did Fujitsu bid? Are they connected with Mr Sunak?

    1. Avatar photo Clearmind60 says:

      With the palantir fiasco taking place as we ll as the infosys debacle who knows!!

  7. Avatar photo David Burns says:

    Last year’s news?!?

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      The change is that the contract negotiations have concluded, and the agreement is now official. I didn’t really fully cover the provisional agreement last year.

  8. Avatar photo Jan says:

    Agree with the other comments about Indian offshore work. I’ve worked for TCS for almost 4 years, recently resigned. I certainly wouldn’t work for another Indian company like Infosys. As you say high staff turnover. Only after the cheapest resource.

  9. Avatar photo Ben says:

    > a cloud-native architecture for […] scalability

    Lol. Let’s think about this. We’ll assume that the UK has 30 million broadband connections which might use the system. Most broadband contracts are 24 months, so let’s also assume that every connection is switched to another provider using the system every 24 months. That means that the system would need to handle 15 million transactions per year, or… A little below 0.5 transactions per second. Even if we assume that switches only take place during 12 hours of the day, it’s still less than 1 transaction per second.

    This is complexity for the sake of it.

    1. Avatar photo MikeW says:

      The problem is not the number of people, and as this a is private venture I doubt they enjoy having their money wasted.

      You have missed the point I do believe.

      However I will agree cloud scaling is not that much useful unless you are a medium sized tech company (even then it is doubtful without a costs valuation). Small and large deployments are suitable for bare metal.

      I have no idea what cloud native architecture even means. Is anything inside a container cloud native? Le sigh.

    2. Avatar photo Tino says:

      Each switch involves multiple messages between the gaining and losing provider and a savvy consumer will check multiple providers for the best deals. Each contact between 2 providers is actually 2 messages – from gaining provider to TOTSCo, then from TOTSCo to losing provider; and the same for any response. So the actual number of messages is far in excess of what your calculation assumes.

      That said, the initial part of this messaging happens in “real time” for the customer. If the TOTSCo hub is slow and/or unreliable, then this will directly impact the end-consumer and give them a poor experience. As the gaining provider manages this journey, they are the party that the consumer will blame, even if the issue is actually on the Hub (or at the losing provider end) so there is an expectation from all parts of industry that the Hub actually works and can handle volume reliably. It’s complexity for the sake of having a solution that actually works for all parties (providers and consumer).

    3. Avatar photo Ben says:

      It doesn’t really matter if it’s 1 transaction per second or 2, or even 5. We’re talking about single digit transactions per second, not thousands of transactions per second, which makes this a pretty straightforward application from a performance perspective.

      In my mind the complexity has been added so that the project can be further delayed, to reduce the number of customers that the larger networks lose to switching. But perhaps I’m just being a little too cynical…

    4. Avatar photo Dave says:

      In this doc (page 4) from Feb 2021, outlines accommodating 300K switches per month.

      https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/212634/annex-7-estimated-costs-code-switch-one-touch.pdf

    5. Avatar photo Ben says:

      300k switches per month works out as:
      – ~11k switches per day (assuming 28 day months)
      – ~900 switches per hour (assuming 12 hour days — I imagine most switches happen during the daytime!)
      – ~15 switches per minute
      – ~0.25 switches per second

      A trivially easy workload for any modern computer software.

  10. Avatar photo Biff Clifton says:

    Lowest bidder then?

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