9.2 million unbundled telephone lines and growing
The UK consumer and SME is continuing to embrace LLU (Local Loop Unbundling) with some 9,251,400 lines unbundled, an increase of 1.2 million lines in the last 18 months. The older WLR (where line rental is moved to a third party provider, but the same hardware is used at the exchange) service is still popular and in use on some 6,030,000 lines and the even older CPS system is still in use on 2,030,000 lines.
This rise of LLU continues to show a steady increase and is a combination of the continued roll-out by TalkTalk and Sky, with TalkTalk and their ADSL2+/telephone service available at some 96% of UK properties. This is a bigger footprint than Sky or BT Wholesale for ADSL2+ (up to 24 Mbps) services. The level of promotion of the TalkTalk Plus TV products may in the next year accelerate LLU take-up.
The Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator who keeps track of this information also tracks the performance for installs and fault fixing by Openreach and it seems that after a recovery in May and June once the cold weather finally vanished, a lot of the improvements have simply vanished with a good many metrics dipping. The end result being that new connections and fault repairs are taking longer than usual, apparently Openreach is deploying more resources, but this cycle has been going on for some years and appears to stem from job cuts some years ago. It seems reasonable to suggest that the cost efficiencies from previous job cuts mean there is very little slack in the manpower area to cope with faults while also rolling out upgrades to the network.
The focus of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee was squarely on the cost of the physical cabinet, with no questions asked about how much the numerous new pavement chambers were costing, or gathering actual rollout costs from other operators in the UK, rather than relying on modelling.