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Sky calls for Ofcom investigation into UK's broadband marketplace

by Mark Tyson on 29 June 2015, 13:38

Tags: British Telecom (LON:BT.A), Sky

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Sky has officially submitted a request that Ofcom consider "issues covering both competition and quality of service," in the UK's broadband industry. Reading through Sky's press release it seems that 100 per cent of its ire is directed at BT's Openreach division. Sky wants Ofcom to ask the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct an inquiry into these wider economy impacting issues.

Talking about the reasons behind its call for action, Mai Fyfield, Sky's Chief Strategy Officer, said "We are drawing attention to the problems in broadband because they are important to the economy as a whole. They affect competition between providers and have a direct impact on consumers and small businesses, resulting in inconvenience, dissatisfaction and loss of productivity." Fyfield drove home the point "The UK needs to get the basics right in broadband as well as develop the networks and services of the future."

According to Sky, an entertainment company which serves 21 million customers in Europe, the UK's broadband industry is severely in need of a strategic review. It has gathered statistics and evidence that points to historic under-investment by BT Openreach resulting in "an excessive number of network faults", long waits for new installations and fault repairs and similar problems which are sometimes simply never addressed.

Sky says that its business accounts for about a third of Openreach's broadband supply. Looking at the impact on the economy, it says that if its own data concerning missed appointments was replicated across the market, and if people took a day off work to wait for an Openreach engineer, the UK would lose 18,000 days of work per year.

Key issues with the UK broadband industry, as highlighted by Sky, are as follows:

  • More than 90% of new line installations, which require an Openreach engineer to attend, take 10 calendar days or longer. Almost one in ten installations takes longer than 30 days.
  • Openreach changes the agreed installation date for Sky customers on average around 36,000 times a month.
  • Openreach misses over 5002 appointments each month to install new lines for Sky customers and fails to complete a further 4,000 jobs per month.
  • Fault rates across Openreach's network increased by 50% between 2009 and 2012, the last year for which reliable data is publicly available.
  • Openreach's performance in fixing faults is consistently below the targets set out in agreements with service providers.

It will be interesting to see what Sky can achieve with this move. It wants to see action "as soon as possible" to make sure the vital issues facing the UK's broadband are sorted out. Can it force the hand of Openreach to invest more in the 'last-mile' or 'access' copper infrastructure which it says is the root of many of the problems?



HEXUS Forums :: 23 Comments

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At least, for once, its not Sky whinging about wanting access to things they dont want to pay for or invest in.

Would be interesting to know if the same problems effect any other ISPs, and more specifically if BT seem to have better stats.
Honestly it's about time they got ‘reviewed’. Having said that I've seen more BT vans and fibre installers in my area in the last couple of months than I have for the prior 10 years… supposedly I can now get fibre lol

The issues with network reliability is likely nationwide, it's not like BT has really invested in improving our network since it was privatised hence why we're so far behind in terms of high speed internet compared with other similar sized countries.

It has only been relatively recently that they started doing fibre and I have this idea in my head that the government ‘invested’ in this too and it all seems to be heavily focused in ‘major cities’ over rural areas, some still stuck on sub broadband speeds.
Took OpenReach more than 15 days to visit my exchange and switch me to Fibre, one month in there was a fault on the line that EE had me running around in circles in because they didn't know there was a fault, and they tried twice to get a BT engineer out to me. In the end, I asked open BT guys myself who were working nearby, and let EE know and they said they were grateful, because BT Wholesale don't let them know.

And, I can handle long install times and the missed appointments, my issue is that the more people who join Fibre now in my area will inevitably meant slower speeds for me, and that isn't acceptable. If they cannot maintain the speeds someone signed up for, then they should stop taking subscriptions, or add more hardware to handle the load. They took billions of public money for this.
These things are always going to be extremely subjective from person to person.

I personally wouldn't touch Sky as I saw the bother they gave my parents. When the time came to get rid of Sky the Virgin engineer was literally waiting outside as the satellite was removed. The sky van reversed out and the Virgin van pulled in and he could not have been a nice, more accommodating guy.

I moved out a couple years ago and there was only one service provider I wanted. Rang up, 3 days for an engineer. He came in, saw the situation, asked me my preference ( I don't like cables being visible ) and set to work performing some of the tidiest cable routing I've ever seen. He asked if he could drill a couple holes and I said yes. Whilst he did that I ran and grabbed the guy a drink of coffee only to come back and see him hoovering where he had just drilled!

/Fluffing Virgin's pillow.

It's amazing that BT have let this go on for so long that Sky has had to do this. Will be interesting to see the outcome.
LSG501
The issues with network reliability is likely nationwide, it's not like BT has really invested in improving our network since it was privatised hence why we're so far behind in terms of high speed internet compared with other similar sized countries.

Jowsey
I moved out a couple years ago and there was only one service provider I wanted. Rang up, 3 days for an engineer. He came in, saw the situation, asked me my preference ( I don't like cables being visible ) and set to work performing some of the tidiest cable routing I've ever seen. He asked if he could drill a couple holes and I said yes. Whilst he did that I ran and grabbed the guy a drink of coffee only to come back and see him hoovering where he had just drilled!

Both the above demonstrate the problem.

Why would any company invest in something they then cant exploit to recoup the costs?

If Sky and other non-Virgin companies had to contribute to the roll out costs too, maybe things would progress, or maybe they would go quiet about it. You only have to look at Skys “whine” a while back about wanting duct access to install their own fibre lines, only shareholders prevent them doing all the work themselves.

Virgin are efficient and do the job well because its entirely their cable network, they install it where they want to, so any investment can always be recouped from customers.