Openreach’s quality of service performance in leased lines and wholesale local access in 2020/21

19 November 2021

Closed

Investigation into Openreach’s quality of service performance in leased lines and wholesale local access in 2020/21
Case opened 19 November 2021
Case closed 19 November 2021
Summary

This matter relates to Openreach’s quality of service performance in the leased lines and wholesale local access markets during 2020/21.

Relevant legal provision(s)

Quality of Service standards for Year 2 (2020/21) of the 2019 Business Connectivity Market Review, Quality of Service standards for Year 3 (2020/21) of the 2018 Wholesale Local Access Review.

Decision

During the 2020/21 compliance year, Openreach did not meet some of the quality of service performance targets for the leased lines and wholesale local access markets set out in regulation. In particular, during this period Openreach missed its Upper Percentile quality of service target in the leased lines market (3.24% against a target of 3% or less) and missed seven out of 42 wholesale local access quality of service targets (between 84.4% and 84.7% against a target of 85% or higher). Openreach explained to Ofcom that it missed these quality of service targets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ofcom takes compliance with quality of service requirements seriously, as consumer harm can result when service levels fall below the standards that are expected of Openreach. In considering whether to open an investigation into this matter, we have taken into account factors that are beyond its control and where it has taken steps to minimise and mitigate the impacts of such factors on its performance.

Throughout 2020/21, Ofcom engaged closely with Openreach to monitor both the impact of the pandemic on its quality of service performances, and the specific steps it was taking to try and mitigate those impacts on its service levels.

In particular, we note the following factors which impacted Openreach’s performance during 2020/21:

  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on staff and resource availability, as absence levels were high due to illness and self-isolation requirements;
  • As a result of social distancing guidelines, there were challenges in carrying out engineering work and accessing premises or sites; and
  • The increased demand in broadband usage (and increased level of fault reporting by customers) as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns gave rise to challenges in resourcing and planning for meeting the demand.

In each case, taking account of the uniquely difficult circumstances of the pandemic, we consider these are factors beyond Openreach’s control and had a substantial impact on its quality of service.

We also note Openreach’s submissions regarding the steps that it took to try and mitigate or minimise the impact of Covid-19 on its quality of service performance in 2020/21, including:

  • Prioritising services for vulnerable customers and for Critical National Infrastructure that rely on its network;
  • Making various operational changes to ensure the maximum amount of work could be done; and
  • Focusing on long-term mitigations such as recruiting additional staff to deliver copper and fibre services and continuing its proactive maintenance programmes.

In that context, Ofcom has decided it is not appropriate to open an investigation into Openreach’s quality of service performance in both services during 2020/21.


Case leader

Jerin John

Case reference Not applicable