Last Tuesday BT formally notified UK ISP’s on the extent of problems impacting current and future fibre leased line provisioning, as well as their plans to recover the situation. The endemic problems plaguing BT Openreach (BTOR); principally centred around a lack of planning and field based engineer resource, and issues with third party contractors (which have been heavily outsourced to) have been apparent to those within the industry for some time. However in recent months the situation has worsened, the difficulties exacerbated by the removal of the first £2,800 of BTOR excess charges (meaning more orders are passing site survey stage) and the government backed the ‘Connected Cities Vouchers’ scheme, where subsidies of up to £3,000 on the install of fibre orders have again lead to an upsurge in orders.
While the notification provides little in the way of revelatory content to those in the know, the acknowledgement of the issues faced and the unveiling of plans to ameliorate the situation does at least represent a step in the right direction. Joe Garner, CEO Openreach said “There are a number of pressure points in the Ethernet provision process, such as deemed consent that we feel is suboptimal for everyone”.
As for the plans, BT have confirmed they will be ramping up their recruitment drive in order to source the engineers they are in desperate need of. This will include widening there search to foreign pastures as well a looking closer to home. Recently they received 1600 applications for 150 positions! This recruitment drive will extend to their planning department, while in this area they are also streamlining internal processes to focus on orders in accordance to their contract delivery date, and are working overtime to recover.
Despite their positive actions, they are still no closer to an ETA for resolution on these issues and unfortunately that means that what was once a 30 working days product is now leaning more towards being a 60 working days product, and that’s if things are going according to plan. As for the projects that require additional work, re-planning, wayleave approval etc. further complications occur for a second time by increased delays and install times being pushed back, meaning a typical average install time of 65 working days could now be much closer to 100 or 130 working days.
Of course Fluidata will continue to drive BTOR for better service and lead times but for now, at least, we will continue to see longer than usual lead times. As such we would urge customers to allow much time as possible for any fibre provision or consider contingency options, particularly for any time critical installs. With a product portfolio encompassing a wide array of DSL, VDSL, wireless, bonded and EFM solutions, here at Fluidata we should be able to cater for any temporary or even mid to long term requirement should the BTOR problems have an impact on your connectivity provision plans.