BT Retail, Sky and TalkTalk customers could have faults with their services fixed sooner, after Ofcom unveiled new proposals forcing BT Openreach to act faster when issues are reported.
Ofcom has issued new guidance stating that Openreach – which manages BT’s network and provides other internet service providers (ISPs) with access to it – must fix faults with telephone or broadband services within two days, while new line installations must take place within 12 days.
Ofcom said it had issued the new guidance after it became concerned at how long some customers had to wait to get issues fixed in 2012.
Since the start of 2013 BT has agreed to an Ofcom-led initiative to pay money to telecoms companies if it’s late with fixes, which has led to improvements. Ofcom now wants to formalise this into more solid guidelines as part of its Fixed Access Market Review consultation.
The most notable requirement is that 80 percent of all fault repairs must be carried out within two days of being notified, although some leniency will be given for extreme weather conditions. New line installations must take place within 12 days, 80 percent of the time.
Openreach must also make data publicly available when it does not reach these targets so assessments can made regarding its ongoing performance.
The remaining 20 percent acknowledges the fact that some jobs may take place in remote locations or require new equipment or fixes that can take longer than necessary.
BT said the new guidance would not change its existing commitment to fixing problems as quickly as possible.
“There is nothing terribly new here as service-level agreements have existed for many years with Openreach compensating ISPs if it doesn't deliver against targets. The fact is that it does meet those targets on a regular basis," the firm said.
However, Sky said Ofcom needed to go further and issues tougher guidelines.
“The service delivered by Openreach is an issue that impacts thousands of consumers every day. While we welcome Ofcom’s action to impose minimum quality standards, we’re concerned that some of its proposals do not match up to customers’ expectations," a spokesperson said.
"As Ofcom’s own research shows, most people do not regard 12 working days as an acceptable standard for installing a new telephone line and it is well short of the goals we set in our own business. We believe that Openreach can and should be required to do better.”
Ofcom wants the new requirements to be met in full from April 2016. The consultation is now open for feedback until 13 February 2014. Final decisions will be made in spring next year.
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