COVID-19 – Important Partner Update (week two)

26.03.2020

I am keen to update you on how 9 is continuing to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, you are keeping well and have also been able to reconfigure your business to adapt to the new situation.

The teams at 9 are now working successfully from home and have been able to carry on, pretty much as normal. Indeed, I am pleased to report that we are working within our SLAs.

To help you support your customers’ requirements for home working, we recently mailed you with details of some compelling new eve hosted telephony offers. Please contact your Partner Business Manager, or call us on 0800 068 5939 to find out how we can keep your customers’ teams in contact with each other, their suppliers and their customers, when working from home.

As may be expected in these unprecedented circumstances, a number of our upstream network operators have issued notifications around service availability and other constraints. Please read the details below:

Openreach

Openreach has announced Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) on all products, effective from Wednesday 25th March 2020.

This contractually releases them from liabilities under their product terms and conditions, such as SLAs. This affects all of Openreach’s products, as well as their engineering services. Affected products include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • GEA FTTC (including Gfast), FTTP (including Fibre-on-Demand), GEA Cablelink/ SOGEA/ SOGfast
  • LLI MPF and SMPF (ADSL)
  • WLR (PSTN, ISDN2, ISDN30)
  • Ethernet: EAD, EBD, Cablelink, Street Access CCTV Access, Broadcast Access, WES/WEES/BES (repair only), TDM Access Service
  • New Sites
  • Number Porting

Openreach will now only prioritise essential work, while minimising work that requires engineers to enter end customer premises.

Provisioning

Provisioning carried out by Service Delivery and Fibre and Network Delivery will be limited to:

  • Self-install activities (i.e. where there is no engineering visit to the end customer premises)
  • Service to vulnerable end customers (in-home and carried out safely, only where essential)
  • Those end customers who have no other form of broadband or telephony
  • On-premises work for critical national infrastructure customers (NHS, pharmacies, utilities, emergency services, retail and wholesale food distribution outlets, financial services businesses and other categories defined by the Government

With immediate effect:

Appointment books will be closed for new appointed provision, with books moved out to 1st June 2020.

  • Openreach will attempt to complete appointed in-flight orders outside of the premises
  • Non-appointed orders will continue to go ahead, where no visit is required to go to the premises (transfers, upgrades to Fibre to the Cabinet)
  • Repair books will remain open at this time – Openreach are reviewing non-urgent repair
  • Engineers will be asked NOT to enter the end customer premises and to enable/restore service where possible from outside of the premises
  • Openreach will ask CPs to help them identify Critical Network Infrastructure and vulnerable end customer tasks in order to prioritise these

Order and fault updates

Openreach have been forced to restrict many of their channels of non-critical communication. Updates are currently only accessible via specific Fault and Order Trackers online.

We are unable to call Openreach support desks or use e-chat so must await information to appear on the Trackers. We will continue to maintain the latest notes on our portals to the best of our ability, prioritising faults at this current time.

Suspension of Number Porting

There is currently a temporary suspension of porting services at Openreach. This will prevent new port orders and affect any orders that are in-flight.

Services affected include WLR, IP Telephony and Inbound / NGN services. IPEX are working directly with Openreach, Other Licensed Operators (OLO) and the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA) to find a way forward.

We are advised that Openreach are standing up additional agent resource with the aim to return to as near as business as usual on data actions by early next week. They will address existing backlogs and focus on activation delays with potential loss of service as a priority.

We will keep you informed of any updates and apologise for the inconvenience.

Hardware

We are receiving notifications from some of our equipment suppliers and also Royal Mail about potential delays to delivery. This will impact on 9’s ability to deliver hardware, such as routers and PSUs, as well as mobile SIMs, within the usual timescales. Short notice and next day delivery cannot be guaranteed.

In order to support customers under the current circumstances, we would ask that you try to ensure adequate stocks of equipment and SIM cards. Try to use standard order types wherever possible.

Mobile

Whilst networks appear resilient during this time of unprecedented demand, we are aware of potential delays in O2 migrations and ports due to the COVID-19 lockdown situation in their back-office functions overseas. We are currently awaiting further information on when this will be resolved, but please be mindful of the situation when processing customer orders.

We have recently seen an increased demand for SIM cards, given the uplift in home working. At present, we have good stocks of both O2 and Vodafone SIMs, but we are monitoring the situation closely.  We need to ask Partners to utilise their existing SIM stocks and only order new SIMs where absolutely necessary to fulfil customer orders.

We are here to help

Whatever additional hurdles we all may face in the in the weeks to come, 9 Group’s support teams are fully in place to assist in these exceptional circumstances. We’ll do our best to help you through this difficult time.

Stay safe and thank you for your continued support.
Adam Cathcart
Managing Director

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