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Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 14-Oct-15 15:49:22
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Universal Service Obligation (USO)


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Hi,

We're trying to get a phone line installed in a relatively remote cottage in Wales. After three months of delays BT have eventually sent a surveyor to the property and I've had a call from BT Retail to say that there are £2100 of excess construction costs to pay.

The BT surveyor (who called me after visiting the cottage) said that BT's Universal Service Obligation doesn't apply because the property isn't fully occupied all the time - Though one of the main reasons for this is that my parents don't feel comfortable living there because there's virtually no mobile phone coverage and no landline either - They plan to live there for the majority of the year once a phone line is installed.

My reading of the OFCOM Universal Service Obligation documents doesn't seem to mention anything about second homes or the need to live in a property permanently.

Does anyone have any advice on this? My reading of the USO documentation makes me think that BT are just trying to wriggle out of it's obligations...

Thanks

Adam.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Wed 14-Oct-15 16:14:33
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
Excess construction costs are possible if the cost goes above £3,000 even if the USO is fully used. It is possible it is remote enough the costs for the phone line are £5,000 and they are just charging the excess £2,000.

What USO documentation are you reading?

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 14-Oct-15 18:36:12
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
I've read lots on the OFCOM site, haven't got links to any specific document at the moment, but could dig some out f needed.

The surveyor was quite clear about the costs - There's a need for 3 poles, plus associated cabling (about 150 metres). He said each pole was approximately £500. Total cost of £2100 and according to him, the USO did not apply as it was being used as a second home.

I spoke to OFCOM this afternoon (I didn't know they had a consumer facing helpline until today) and they were really helpful, confirming that occupancy levels and that whether a house was a second house was irrelevant regarding the USO.

BT Retail are apparently calling me tomorrow about this - I'll feedback how I get on.

Adam.


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Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 14-Oct-15 20:27:28
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
Ahhh...

Just found this on the OpenReach price list. It details excess construction charges. Specifically, within the "Exemptions" section:

https://www.openreach.co.uk/orpg/home/products/prici...

Looks to me like "second homes" receive no exemption. I guess these exemptions are related to how BT interprets it's USO rather than separate to the USO.

I'm really confused now, because this is the opposite of what OFCOM told me.

Adam.
Standard User Michael_Chare
(experienced) Wed 14-Oct-15 21:02:25
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
The problem is 'what is a reasonable request' for telephony services. It might be easier to tell BT that the house is occupied.

There is some info here: Ofcom

Michael Chare
Standard User gah789
(regular) Thu 15-Oct-15 08:00:02
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Michael_Chare] [link to this post]
 
The way to make the case - for both Ofcom and BT (actually Openreach) - is to point out that your parents - or anyone else - could only occupy the house full time if it has a voice telephone line available. Thus, an insistence on levying excess construction charges would ensure that the house is only suitable for use as a second home rather than being used as someone's main residence.

You may describe it as a second home, but if your parents were to occupy it for more than 50% of the time it would become their main residence. As an additional step, you could raise the matter with your local AM, again emphasising that BT are putting a barrier to the conversion of a property from being a second home to being someone's main residence.

But ... you should remember that developers and new housebuilders are often required to make a contribution to the costs of installing network services for new estates or houses. It may be quicker to negotiate an agreement with BT to split the cost in order to get something done rather than to have to spend time on complaints and lobbying.
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Thu 15-Oct-15 08:50:40
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
My understanding was second homes did not qualify for USO

May require legal advice to confirm your situation

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
Standard User TheEulerID
(committed) Thu 15-Oct-15 08:54:50
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
No utility USOs are unqualified. They are all subject to a reasonable cost test.

This is the Ofcom page which says a threshold of £3,400 capital cost to BT is the threshold. Is that £2,100 the cost over and above the threshold?

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/uso/m...

At current wholesale line rental rates it would take about 40 years to recover the cost of installation, and that's without considering maintenance costs or if there are wayleave charges to pay.
Standard User Jax2
(member) Thu 15-Oct-15 09:39:51
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
Just to complicate things further.

I was talking to an acquaintance down a lane near me who is trying to get the native FTTP in our area brought up a lane from where it is on the corner of my road up to his property. Some of the poles are shared with the electricity supplier and one pole needs replacing as apparently it was not put in properly (over 40 years ago!) according to the BT surveyor. They are deciding whether they need just 3 new poles or all 6 or even add more poles to bring the number up to 9. The point is that the acquaintance has been told costs are covered because what happens is that over a certain sum the case goes before a committee who decide how much if any excess charge is passed onto the end user. In his case he has been told no charge! Another person in Lavenham a few months back was told he would have to pay an excess (about 2.5K if I remember correctly) to bring FTTP in a duct under the road to his property which he declined. Why the difference who knows?
Administrator MrSaffron
(staff) Thu 15-Oct-15 10:06:11
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Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Jax2] [link to this post]
 
Pole height is a safety issue along with new rules over the height cables have to cross roads and new rules over shared poles too.

The author of the above post is a thinkbroadband staff member. It may not constitute an official statement on behalf of thinkbroadband.
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