EAB Overview: November 2016
The EAB met in October and had presentations from BT, Openreach and TalkTalk plc.
The EAO reported to us the results of a review it had undertaken of Openreach’s Statement of Requirements (SOR) process. It had concluded that the process was equivalent and its governance was currently acceptable but that many CPs felt the system did not work well. We reviewed a note from Sky, setting out its views on the SOR process, and received a presentation on SORs by John Locker, the Head of Industry Engagement at TalkTalk plc. We discussed the points raised with Clive Selley, Openreach CEO, Fergus Crockett, Product Director, Openreach, and Stef Norman, Director, Business Integrity, Openreach. We agreed that it would be valuable for Openreach to review the SOR data with input from the EAO and OTA2 to ensure there was a clear picture on SOR throughput, volumes and the causes of delay. We also asked Openreach to set out a framework for how it treats SORs.
GEA launch update
We reviewed the EAO’s updated report into the launch of the GEA 55/10Mb and GEA 18/2Mb products, and concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the Undertakings had been breached in the launch of either product. As Openreach had not fully documented its bilateral meetings held with CPs prior to the launch, we recommended at our last meeting that Openreach should document such meetings in future, and Openreach reported to us that it had changed its processes to implement this. In lieu of such documentation, the EAO report referenced assurance statements from senior managers in Openreach, BT Wholesale & Ventures and BT Consumer that there had been no inappropriate behaviour. However, we remained of the view that the assurance we could give was limited and have asked Openreach to review its underlying processes to ensure a stronger assurance statement could be made in any future case.
Clive Selley and Stef Norman presented to us on Openreach’s compliance controls and we asked Openreach to go through a case study of its product launch process at our next meeting.
The EAO reported that its review of Openreach’s Missed Appointments Key Performance Indicator (KPI) with the OTA2 had confirmed that the data Openreach reported to industry was accurate and missed appointments were improving. However, it was difficult to measure equivalence due to the range of products reported in the KPI and the impact that different CP behaviour had on Openreach’s performance. We agreed that the EAO should do more analysis on the causes of failure with regard to this KPI for our further review. We asked the EAO to review with industry which KPIs were of most interest to them, to decide on the subject of our next review. We also asked the EAO to work with Openreach to review KPIs for SORs.
Delivery of systems milestones
We reviewed with BT its progress on delivering the Equivalence of Inputs (EoI) and Customer Side Record (CSR) migrations. BT reported that it remained on track to achieve its internal forecasts of 99.8% EoI migration and 98.4% CSR migration by April 2017, and to achieve ISDN2 Level 2 separation by that date. It would continue to migrate records after this date and had had initial discussions with Ofcom to agree the appropriate action for c.100k records which would not be covered in its automated migration programme. We asked BT for a further update at our next meeting.
We have reported previously on the formal complaint received from Vodafone, alleging that BT’s Customer First programme had allowed BT CPs to influence Openreach’s actions and developments in a way that was not open to other CPs. We reviewed the EAO’s final report and concluded that the complaint could not be upheld. However, the EAO had identified another potential breach during its investigation, concerning Openreach’s failure to use the SOR process when progressing a Proof of Concept development of its Broadband Boost product, and we concluded this was a trivial breach of the Undertakings.
There were two breaches on which we concluded at our October meeting:
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Failure to use the SOR process when Openreach progressed a Proof of Concept development of its Broadband Boost product
The Proof of Concept was never implemented. Openreach will progress any future developments to Broadband Boost through the SOR process.
Inappropriate sharing of Openreach CCI when an email was accidentally forwarded to a BT Global Services employee with the same surname as the intended Openreach recipient
The email was deleted and not shared any further. The CP concerned was informed.
We noted in our last bulletin that we had requested more information about ‘win back’ orders. This was as a result of a case which had identified that orders BT had ‘won back’ from other CPs could sometimes be placed on legacy systems rather than equivalent systems. While this was not a breach, we were concerned that it may impact on BT’s progress in migrations. BT has now reported that this had happened due to a team not following the correct processes and, once identified in March 2016, the practice had been stopped and there had been no further transfers back to legacy systems. The numbers transferred had not been sufficient to have a material impact on the overall migrations progress.
We agreed that we would re-appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) as our external auditors for the 2017 EAB Annual Report. BT’s Director of Group Internal Audit reported to us on the audits relevant to the EAB undertaken by his team over the last year. We have asked for a further report at our next meeting, aligning the audit work undertaken by the EAO, Group Internal Audit and PwC to our risk register, to enable us to review the extent of the assurance we receive.
Correction to the EAB Annual Report 2016
BT has informed us that there was an error in the year-end training statistics reported to the EAB and included in our 2016 Annual Report. A team in India, who do UK work, were not assigned the Undertakings training which is mandatory for employees who do UK work. BT identified this in late July and the employees concerned have now completed the training. BT is reviewing the issue through its breach process and has strengthened its processes for ensuring training is correctly assigned following organisational changes.
This error changes the year-end Undertakings training completion statistics we reported from 99.1% to 95.1%, and we will report the correct figures in our 2017 Annual Report. We have informed Ofcom and PwC of the error.
Product Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
BT published KPIs showing the output performance of its regulated wholesale products. The KPI charts for each product portfolio compare service performance for BT’s business units to that for other CPs.
CCI - Customer Confidential Information, a term defined in the Undertakings
CSR - Customer Side Record, defined in the Undertakings as a Customer Service Record relating to BT as a purchaser from Openreach
DCR - Digital Communications Review, Ofcom’s strategic review of the communications market
EAB – Equality of Access Board
EAO - Equality of Access Office
EoI - Equivalence of Inputs, defined in the Undertakings to mean that BT provides the same product or service to all Communications Providers on the same timescales, terms and conditions by means of the same systems and processes
GEA - Generic Ethernet Access, an Openreach product
KPIs - Key Performance Indicators
OTA2 - Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator 2
SOR - Statement of Requirements, the process set out in the Undertakings for a Communications Provider to submit a request to BT for new or enhanced Network Access