BT Openreach hit by Ofcom performance improvement targets

BT Openreach could face fines in future for failing to repair faults with end users' telephone or broadband services within two working days, if new sanctions by Ofcom get the go ahead.

Ofcom has been working with Openreach, the company responsible for maintaining connections to BT networks on behalf of competing telcos, to improve its performance since the start of 2013.

This intervention was prompted by concerns raised in 2012 about the company's response times.

While Ofcom admits Openreach's fault response times have improved since then, it wants to introduce further measures to ensure the company's progress in this area continues.

As such, Ofcom has set out a list of performance targets it wants Openreach to adhere to in full by April 2016. If these are not met over a 12-month period, the company could be fined.

The proposals state Openreach must complete approximately 80 per cent of repairs within one-to-two days of faults being reported, and book in 80 per cent of new line installations within 12 working days of appointment requests being made.

If these performance standards are not met, Openreach must provide reasons why for Ofcom monitoring purposes.

"The new measures all relate to Openreach's most-used products, which are used by telephone companies to offer phone and broadband to consumers and businesses," said Ofcom, in a statement.

"The targets are designed to ensure better service for telephone and broadband customers in future while also avoiding any significant effect on prices."

The proposals are up for consultation at the moment, until 13 February 2014, with Ofcom expected to announce if they've been given the go ahead by spring 2014.

In a statement, a BT Openreach spokesperson said the challenge for the company in meeting Ofcom's target will be keeping costs down.

"Openreach's charges are already among the lowest in the world, allowing UK consumers and businesses to enjoy very low prices, so the challenge is balancing those low prices with an increased focus on service," said BT.

"Our concern is that the prices being proposed are insufficient to fund the higher level of service that Openreach wishes to deliver and its customers expect."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.