BT has been told to speed up business broadband installations after Ofcom reported that the time it takes for the average job to be completed is now 48 days, up from 40 days in 2011.
Ofcom told BT that this must be reduced to 46 days by the end of March 2017, and then to 40 days by the end of March 2018, as part of the regulator's Business Connectivity Market Review.
Furthermore, Ofcom said that one in four leased line installations fails to occur within the time promised to customers.
BT must ensure that 80 per cent of installations occur within the proposed time by the end of March 2017, rising to 90 percent by April 2018.
Finally, Ofcom said that 94 per cent of line faults reported to BT Openreach must be fixed within five hours.
Dark fibre access
A second notable element of the review is that Ofcom wants BT to open access to its core fibre network so that other internet providers can manage the line themselves, rather than just leasing it from BT.
This lease is currently a full wholesale model, so the equipment used to manage the line is owned and maintained by Openreach.
However, Ofcom competition group director Jonathan Oxley said that opening the line so that other firms control the kit at each end will reduce the reliance on Openreach for managing high-speed lines.
“We have outlined plans to reduce the country’s reliance on BT’s Openreach division. Our proposals on ‘dark fibre’ do just that, letting BT’s competitors better serve their customers by getting direct access to BT’s optical fibre cables,” he said.
Finally, BT has been told to lower the prices charged for access to its Ethernet services, proposing a reduction of 12 per cent for services of speeds up to 1Gbps and seven per cent for speeds up to 8Mbps.
BT acknowledged Ofcom’s points concerning installations, admitting that it could make improvements.
“We accept there is more to do on service and are committed to doing better and meeting our business customers’ rising expectations," the firm said, although it added some explanations about why Ethernet installations can take time.
"Ethernet provision can be complex and the need for street works and wayleaves mean delays are often beyond our control. We are doing all we can to overcome such challenges," BT said.
However, the firm questioned the wisdom of opening up its own fibre network, claiming that it would actually harm rivals that are paying to install their own networks.
“Dark fibre is a flawed piece of regulation that introduces an unnecessary layer of complexity and will deter others from building their own fibre networks," the firm said in a statement.
"It is at odds with Ofcom’s recent statements about increasing competition at the infrastructure level. It is a cherry pickers’ charter benefiting those who don’t invest in networks at the expense of those who do, including BT, Virgin Media, CityFibre and Zayo.”
V3 recently spoke to the CEO of CityFibre about the firm's intention to beat BT in the fibre game by building a pure fibre network in towns and cities, as the battle for high-speed broadband networks heats up.
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