Top British telco BT has been fined a record £42 million by the regulator, Ofcom, for failing to install high speed lines for businesses fast enough.
It is likely that BT will have to write out a cheque for £300 million in compensation to customers who suffered from its mega-slowness.
The company was apparently using its terms of its contracts to reduce compensation payments to other providers for failing to deliver Ethernet services on time between January 2013 and December 2014, regulator Ofcom said.
BT’s Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said the company took the matter very seriously, and had put in place measures, controls and people to prevent it happening again.
In other news, Ofcom has revealed new plans which would see consumers who experience poor service automatically compensated, in cash or credit, by their landline or broadband providers.
As part of the scheme, customers who have had to put up with delayed repairs, missed installation or engineer appointments, will be paid up to £30 in compensation, depending on the problem. According to Ofcom, six million landline and broadband customers could receive a total of around £185 million in compensatory payments each year as a result of the policy.
The regulator says every year UK repair technicians failed to show up for 250,000 repair appointments.
Telecoms watchdog Ofcom has barked at BT to legally separate from its Openreach division.
For those who came in late Openreach runs the UK’s broadband infrastructure and considerably miffs BT’s rivals including Sky and Talk Talk.
They claim that Openreach charged too much for the use of broadband lines and was unresponsive to their demands. They wanted a full break-up of BT, with Openreach being turned into a separate company.
Now it seems that Ofcom agrees saying that BT had not voluntarily addressed competition concerns Ofcom laid out in July, it said.
Ofcom said it was preparing a formal notification to the European Commission to start the process.
The regulator has resisted calls to split Openreach off entirely.
Ofcom said BT had not gone far enough to address its concerns about BT’s ability to favour its retail business when making investment decisions in Openreach.
It wants Openreach to become a distinct company with its own board, with non-executives and a chair unaffiliated with BT.
Openreach would have a duty to treat all its customers equally, the regulator said.
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has managed to get a promise from BT, Dropbox, Google and Mozy that they will not try to screw over cloudy punters with dodgy terms and conditions.
Apparently the four were compelled to take the pledge after the CMA started peering into cloud service providers’ contract terms and tutting that they discriminated against consumers.
After making its pledge, BT had promised that “free accounts will not be terminated due to inactivity during the first 365 days of the contract”. It has also promised to give 90 days’ notice in writing when it wants to zap unused cloud backup accounts. It also “agreed to amend” its terms and conditions, which at present give it the right to unilaterally change prices on a whim.
Dropbox has promised not to kill customers’ accounts without notice. Apparently that right existed in the terms and conditions and no one spotted it.
Google has agreed to “ensure consumers are given an opportunity to remedy their breaches” before terminating their accounts, as well as giving 30 days’ notice of a price increase “or storage plan decrease”.
The search engine outfit will now ensure that consumers can bring legal proceedings in their local courts and under their local laws if it breaks the terms of its own contract
Mozy, which provides Windows and Mac OS X backup services, made much the same promises as BT and Dropbox.
TalkTalk is asking its channel partners to support the “Fix Britain’s Internet “campaign which is calling for the privatisation of BT Openreach.
For those who came in late, the campaign was created by Vodafone, Sky and TalkTalk, and is designed to help consumers and businesses to make their voices heard during Ofcom’s ten week public consultation period. TalkTalk’s wants its channel partners to joined the fight.
Ofcom published its Strategic Review of Digital Communications admiting that major reform was needed. Several months later, the watchdog set out proposals that would not force BT to spin off Openreach, but instead suggested that Openreach should be run as a legally separate company within BT Group, with its own board, and an independent chairman.
However the competing service providers fear this is not enough and want everyone to oppose it. In a statement Talk Talk said:
“Our partners’ have a firsthand experience of Openreach’s poor service provisioning has fueled their desire to support the campaign and encourage more businesses to get in touch with Ofcom before the consultation closes on 4th October 2016.”
UK telco watchdog Ofcom has growled that Openreach must become a “legally” separate company from BT and have its independent board as seperate drinks cabinet.
In February, Ofcom identified serious failings with BT’s ownership model of Openreach now it has outlined details of how an enhanced structural separation will work.
Ofcom said BT has an incentive to make these decisions in the interests of its own retail businesses, rather than BT’s competitors.
Ofcom iterated that Openreach should be a legally separate company within BT, saying all its directors would be required to make decisions in the interests of all Openreach’s customers. The new board should have a majority of non-executive directors, who should not be affiliated to BT Group in any way but would be both appointed and removed by BT in consultation with Ofcom.
Openreach’s chief exec should be appointed by the Openreach Board, with no direct lines of reporting from Openreach executives to BT Group.
Openreach will also be obliged to consult formally with customers such as Sky and TalkTalk on large-scale investments which is something that BT was not happy to do during its G.Fast roll-out plans.
Sharon White, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re pressing ahead with the biggest shake-up of telecoms in a decade, to make sure the market is delivering the best possible services for people and business across the UK.”
The moves are designed to ensure that Openreach acts more independently from BT Group, and takes decisions for the good of the wider telecoms industry and its customers. “If it cannot achieve this, Ofcom will reconsider whether BT and Openreach should be split into two entirely separate companies, under different ownership,” said the regulator.
Ofcom said BT has notified it of plans to deliver changes to Openreach’s governance, to make it more independent and accountable to its customers. “We welcome BT’s acknowledgement of the need to reform Openreach, and elements of BT’s proposal.
Broadband provider BT redirected its customers’ outgoing emails to the account of one of its business partners for three hours.
The account belonged to Synchronoss Technologies, which took over the running of BT’s cloud services last month. While BT did not provide details on the reason for the disruption, it appears to be something gone wrong during testing.
It appears that outgoing messages were getting forwarded to email@example.com address and that was bouncing email as the mailbox was full. According to Linked in there is a Steve Webb who supports O2 and BT email platforms looking after the mail gateway, the backend servers containing the mailboxes, calendars and address books and other servers in the platform.
“I have supported 28 million email accounts and 80 million emails per day,” if we are right then this guy literally did the job for a few hours this week.
BT has won a big contract to provide the underling infrastructure for Boots as it prepares to push forward with an ‘omni-channel’ strategy.
Boots has contracted BT to overhaul its IT infrastructure in the UK and the rest of Europe as part of a wider digital transformation. It wants to get better at omni-channel retailing, it thinks that is where the money is.
The high street retailer will soon be bringing in more ways for customers to interact with the brand online and in-store. And new voice and communications technologies for staff will also be introduced.
Boots has a lot more network requirements and a lot more bandwidth requirements – with that goes resilience.
“If you become dependent on digital tools in-store, you don’t want those things to be unavailable.”
BT will roll out dedicated fibre Ethernet services and copper-based networks to flagship stores, improve internal systems, and shops will have a “future-ready” network to adapt to new technologies. This should also speed up in-store processing time for pharmacy orders, stock replenishment and booking appointments.
Currently the outfit has a lots of different legacy systems – in data, in data centres, networking and other infrastructure. So the company was after a way to centralise network services in one place, in a way that was better for security and application control.
It is also an early adopter of BT Connect Intelligence IWAN. It’s a managed service that allows for automatic routing and optimisation of network traffic, and the intention is to provide more visibility on applications performance.
Boots tried several contractors but BT came out on top in terms of reliability and for its innovations like IWAN. It was also a good deal money wise.
The European Commission has announced BT, IBM, Accenture and Atos will get most of the contracts to supply its new cloud services.
Contracts were broken out into three “lots,” covering a private cloud setup, public cloud setup, and platform-as-a-service, for which it will pay $38.5 million.
The whole lot will be platformed by Telecom Italia which is a bit unfortunate. That outfit is under resourced and its mobile arm TIM just adopted the iChing hexagram for “standing still” as its logo.
It is unusual that Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, Amazon and none of the other big cloud outfits managed to get their paws on the EU’s clouds.
The Commission said that all the systems will be physically located within the European Union, the Commission noted, “to be compliant with EU data handling requirements” basically it means that the US will not be able to steal it.
According to the announcement, the contract will “enable the Commission to follow the ceaseless pace of today’s technological race.”
The EU hopes that use of cloud services will help it come up with future improvements to how it works, such as using “Big Data.”
The private cloud service will provide computing and storage facilities through a private network link connected to the EC’s data centres, and will be hosted by a single provider. The public cloud infrastructure will be run over the public internet. And the public platform-as-a-service will include both operating systems and database services run over the cloud.
The first cloud services should appear this year.
Local authorities in the UK are starting to find that the outsourcing contracts they signed are saddling them with more costs than they predicted.
Outsourcing was being touted as a way to save money, but it is starting to look like the councils are having to scale down outsourcing operations or abandon them completely. The current belief is now that a move to outsource can be a false economy. Councils are beginning to realise they are quite adept at making savings themselves.
This year Cornwall Council was awarded the right to divorce its outsourcing contract with BT. The council signed a 10-year £160m contract with BT two years ago,. However Cornwall was far from happy and wanted out. So BT sued to keep it in.
The eventual contract with BT was a slimmed down version of the original deal proposed in 2012, which was overturned after councillors put forward a no-confidence vote to the leader of Cornwall Council over the plans.
It was not the only one which is unhappy with its outsourcing contract. Earlier this month, Somerset voted to terminate its 10-year SouthWest One deal with IBM a year early, due to a report finding it had become “increasingly unaffordable”.
Now it seems that other councils are getting less keen about being saddled with outsourcing contracts. Dorset County Council has rejected plans to outsource its IT services, as it was unlikely to be sufficiently flexible in the future.
Looking at the numbers the council decided that it would not get value for money.
This means that outsourcing sales teams hoping to interest councils in big contracts next year will find it a tough sell.
Telco giant BT is to enter the mainstream smartphone market again this year and will offer 4G services at an aggressive £5 SIM only rate.
But the move is likely to prompt investigation by UK regulators as the number of providers has now sunk to just three companies.
BT is attempting to buy EE but also has spectrum it can use itself. It isn’t yet ready to offer handsets itself, just SIM cards.
BT formerly owned O2, but sold it to Spanish telco Telefonica in 2005.
The company is likely to offer its sports service to people who sign up to its tariff, and that may be attractive to some people.
Paolo Pescatore, a director at CSS isnight, described BT Mobile’s launch as “more aggressive than many anticipated. He said: “BT has made the right decision to offer a range of of simple and transparent packages as part of its return to the consumer mobile market. The £5 SIM only deal for existing BT broadband households is probably the best value 4G SIM only deal in the market.”
He said BT is able to bring something different to the party by offering BT Sport and BT Wi-Fi.
UK regulator Ofcom said that from the 1st of April, BT will have to maintain a margin between its wholesale and retail superfast broadband that’s enough to allow competition from other providers.
The regulator said that the rules will allow BT to keep its current flexibility to set its own wholesale fibre prices but it must not set those prices in a manner that will stop others from matching its prices and making a profit.
While BT is the biggest retail provider of fibre broadband services, it is forced under regulation to let other operators sell superfast broadband to ordinary people too, using a process dubbed virtual unbundled local access.
Ofcom seems happy enough that BT is, at the moment, allowing other companies to compete in the superfast market but wants to make sure that continues in the future.
What’s triggered Ofcom’s interest is that BT is a new entrant to the sports content market and gives BT Sport free to superfast broadband customers. The regulator wants to make sure that it doesn’t have an unfair advantage over the competition.
The number of people using superfast broadband in the UK is now 3.7 million, with providers offering speeds of up to 76Mbit/s. The industry eventually wants to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s in the future.
British Telecom (BT) has been handed an £800,000 fine from media regulator Ofcom for failing to offer adequate services for hearing-impaired customers.
The fine relates to BT’s failure to bring in its Next Generation text relay system from between April and September 2014. The system translates voice-to-text on various devices, including PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones. It aims to help users have more natural conversations using speech and text.
Ofcom started to wonder why the new system had not been launched on the required date. It thought that the delay was a one-off, caused by problems with the sound quality of emergency calls, and had not caused financial harm to customers.
However it also pointed out that BT had been given 18 months to bring in the service, and had missed the deadline by five months.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer and content group director, commented: “The size of the penalty imposed on BT reflects the importance of providing an improved text relay service to its customers with hearing and speech impairments.”
BT’s business rivals have called for the telco to be sliced up after having enough of the outfit’s monopoly like powers.
It all goes back to 2006, when Ofcom forced BT to set up Openreach as a separate division that manages its network infrastructure across the UK.
This was supposed to give rival telephone and internet service providers (ISPs) equal access to BT’s wide-reaching network of copper and fibre cables and promote competition.
The signs are that it more or less worked, but now, Sky and TalkTalk are urging Ofcom to split up BT and Openreach completely.
TalkTalk’s CEO Dido Harding says it’s “crucial” that Openreach is separated because it would encourage the subsidiary to focus exclusively on the quality of its network.
At the heart of the problem is the BT and EE merger because the pair will have too much influence over the UK telecoms market and reduce their level of investment in Openreach.
Sky holds a similar view saying that splitting Openreach and BT “is at the heart of creating a sustainable industry” that allows multiple providers to compete.
Ofcom just announced its second ‘Strategic Review of Digital Communications’ and since this was the first to led to the creation of Openreach, it is an opportunity for BT’s rivals to put the boot in.
Ofcom is expected to be releasing a “discussion document” this summer, but the regulator’s initial conclusions won’t be published until the end of 2015.
BT has finalised its deal to buy EE from Orange and Deutsche Telekom for £12.5 billion.
According to the International Business Times , the deal, is to be officially completed by the end of the year, will be settled in cash and shares.
While the deal has been rumoured for a while, it is now official. It looks like once the agreement has been settled, the German Deutsche Telekom will have a 12 percent stake in the company and will be given the right to appoint one board member.
Orange will also get a four percent stake.
BT will raise £1 billion of the deal through issuing new shares and debt financing, with the view of making £360 million of capital expenditure in four years savings as a result of the deal.
BT CEO Gavin Patterson said: “This is a major milestone for BT as it will allow us to accelerate our mobility plans and increase our investment in them. The UK’s leading 4G network will now dovetail with the UK’s biggest fibre network, helping to create the leading converged communications provider in the UK. Consumers and businesses will benefit from new products and services as well as from increased investment and innovation.”
The deal comes after broadband providers have started to offer quad-play packages, providing customers with TV, broadband, landline and mobile services in one bundle.
BT will now join Virgin Media and TalkTalk, who already offer these deals to UK consumers.
CEO of EE, Olaf Swantee added: “Joining BT represents an exciting next stage for our company, customer, and people. In the last few years alone, we have built the UK’s biggest, fastest and best 4G network, significantly advancing the digital communications infrastructure for people and businesses across Britain.”
Following in BT’s footsteps is Sky, who struck a deal with Three Mobile last week to offer similar quad-play deals in 2016.
BT has surprised everyone by announcing that it is deploying next generation hybrid-fibre across the United Kingdom from 2016/17.
Dubbed G.fast broadband technology, it will provide “most homes” with speeds of ‘up to’ 500Mbps and there’s also a “premium” option for up to 1000Mbps.
At present most of BT’s national deployment is dominated by its hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to your local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining / existing copper line from the cabinet to your home.
This works for properties that exist up to 400 metres away from their street cabinet, although the service has been known to reach 2,000 metres at a slower speed.
G.fast is similar technology but it requires more radio spectrum and needs to run over much less than 250 metres of copper. As a result the high capacity fibre optic line has to be taken even closer to homes, usually as far as a smaller remote node that can be built on top of a telegraph pole, inside a street cabinet or underground.
This is expensive, although BT should not need to dig up your garden or run a new physical line into homes.
BT conducted a field trial of mock-up G.fast technology earlier this year and on the shortest 19 metre copper line it managed to achieve aggregated speeds of around 1000Mbps or 231Mbps upload and 786Mbps download. By comparison the “long” 66 metre line produced 200Mbps upload and 696Mbps download.
There will be two pilots which will start this summer in Huntingdon and Gosforth with 4,000 homes and businesses participating to see if the technology scales up.
BT will set up G.fast from different points of its network, with the pilots allowing it to assess various rollout options. It is also planning to develop a premium fibre broadband service for those residential and business customers who want even faster broadband, of up to 1Gbps.