New compensation schemes to force Openreach to perform better
BT Openreach was created as a separate division within the BT Group in an effort to make it easier for communications providers to provide products that compete with the telephone and broadband services from BT Retail. This change has resulted or at the very least coincided with a rise in the use of products such wholesale line rental, carrier pre selection and unbundled services, but to date the penalties for Openreach when it fixed faults too slowly or failed to activate lines on agreed dates have been so small that there was little incentive to perform well.
New service level guarantees (SLGs) are set to come into force for Openreach from 25th June 2008. The full details can be found on the Ofcom website, but the key points are:
- Openreach to make proactive payments for Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) services for things like late provision and late fault delivery. The compensation will be one month's line rental for every days delay.
- Unbundled (LLU) connections will carry a £8 compensation for every day a LLU line is late in being delivered. This increases to £16 a day if the line is delivered but in a non working state.
- Ethernet services will have compensation increased for late delivery to one months rental / day of delay. Where a fault takes longer to fix than the partial private circuit enhanced care option allows for then 15% of the monthly rental will be payable for each hour of downtime until the fault is resolved.
- Caps on compensation for the products to be removed and other unnecessary restrictions to be removed too.
- Compensation if the Equivalence Management Platform (EMP) is unavailable outside of scheduled outages. This starts at £20 per relevant transaction for a 2 hour outage, rising to £100 per transaction for failures longer than 8 hours in a number of steps.
It should be pointed out that this compensation is to the communications provider and whether any of this will be passed onto businesses or consumers will depend on your contract with them. For compensation over individual line issues we would hope that providers will pass on something to its customers.
The charges raised by Openreach for engineer visits that discover the fault to not be on the Openreach network have been unpopular, but it looks likely that with a new harsher compensation environment, Openreach will be even more keen to look into faults and if possible show it is not their problem. To this end, providers broadband support centres will need to improve and make much better use of the diagnostics systems available to them, for example, all broadband providers using an IPStream service should be able to see what your IP Profile is without having to send you to the BT Wholesale speedtester, but this information often appears to be hidden from support staff.