NGA034/19 SOGEA contract change and launch update

23/12/2019    For Information

This briefing is for all Communications Providers (CPs).

This briefing is to inform all CPs about the changes to the SOGEA launch contract terms and to update them on our launch plans.

During November 2019 and early December 2019 we have seen a steep ramp up in weekly volumes coinciding with Black Friday and Cyber Monday CP offers to the market. The large weekly volumes have enabled us to test the non-functional aspects of the product such as scalability and end customer experience. Whilst overall performance has been stable, during the same period we have seen a rising trend in Early Life Failures (ELFs).

We have taken this into consideration when assessing whether to continue with the targeted launch of SOGEA in January 2020. After investigating the causes of this rise, we have decided to hold the launch, to give us time to collaborate with CPs and help reduce the ELF rate.

We believe that through collaboration with CPs we will be able to swiftly reduce the ELF rate to sustainable levels by:

  1. Making improvements in point of sale validation by CPs – ensuring that all end customers are fully aware that their voice service is changing to VoIP (or digital), that they understand the different characteristics of the new service and how to get the best use from it
  2. Ensuring that end customers understand the changes in home setup – particularly around the removal of extension wiring and the need to plug their phone into the hub.
  3. Improving the first-line fault reception such that CP agents can correctly identify CP voice issues and resolve those rather than raising costly LTOK faults resulting in unnecessary superfast visit assure charges.

We will reassess the product performance and the ELF rate over the next month with the aim to notify the launch of SOGEA in January 2020, subject to making improvements. Following the 28-day notification period the new target launch date is 1 March 2020.

Additionally, we have now completed drafting the SOGEA launch contract, and want to clarify that we have added a new clause prohibiting the proactive / robotic testing and raising of faults on our network to align with the position in other contracts, and to further clarify the steps that we may take if we detect robotic or proactive testing and raising of faults. This will help ensure we remain equivalent in how we provide our services to all CPs and will protect service levels for customer reported faults. This will also help ensure that the commercial structure of Openreach products is protected within the regulatory framework such that we are able to manage our cost base and maintain competitive pricing.

The new clause is as follows:

Unless previously agreed in writing by BT, the Communications Provider must raise faults only if they have been initiated by an End User contacting the Communications Provider to report a specific problem with the Service, not proactively or robotically on behalf of an End User. BT may:

  • repair a fault outside of the relevant Service Maintenance Level if BT reasonably believes that the Communications Provider has submitted that fault to BT other than in response to a complaint by the affected End User;
  • contact the End User to validate whether the End User is experiencing problems with the Service before attempting to resolve the fault; and
  • charge the Communications Provider a superfast visit assure or abortive visit Charge if the fault is raised other than in accordance with this paragraph 12.5.

More information

If you've any questions about this briefing please get in touch with your business development manager who'll be happy to help.