General Discussion
  >> Local Loop Unbundling & Regulation Issues


Register (or login) on our website and you will not see this ad.


Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | (show all)   Print Thread
Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 14-Oct-15 15:49:22
Print Post

Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[link to this post]
 
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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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.


Register (or login) on our website and you will not see this ad.

Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 14-Oct-15 20:27:28
Print Post

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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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
Print Post

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.
Standard User Zarjaz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Thu 15-Oct-15 10:49:56
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Jax2] [link to this post]
 
The local electricity board own and maintain the poles in the instance you describe. Whilst there is agreements in place for 'normal' telephony, none exist for FTTP services.

Hopefully will see sense and provide the service completely separate to the existing OH power. This will save a lot of grief in the future.

Standard User btbert
(committed) Thu 15-Oct-15 21:18:59
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Zarjaz] [link to this post]
 
On JU poles i thought we can now only replace like for like ? So cant see how any fibre cable / kit can go on them ? You are right it would be a good move not to use JU poles at all .

these comments are my own and in no way represent any company that i may or may not be linked too.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/2420497773.png
Standard User Zarjaz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Mon 19-Oct-15 09:16:03
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: btbert] [link to this post]
 
I think one of the issues is that rules for JUP's change dependant on which authority owns them, but for sure round our way there is no licence for FTTP infrastructure to be fitted to them.

Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Wed 21-Oct-15 16:51:49
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: MrSaffron] [link to this post]
 
Thought I'd post an update to this.

BT have agreed to waive the installation costs providing that my parents provide a letter detailing that they plan to live in the property for the majority of the year and that they agree to refund the installation costs to BT if they don't end up living there.

I thought this sounded like a good result - Though my parents (as they are getting older) feel a bit scared by the potential of BT asking for the £2100 back at a later date, should there be problems that prevent them from living there which they can't foresee at present (eg. should one of them have health issues).

There's still a bit more work to do on the cottage before they can live there comfortably, which they plan to get done in the spring, so it's a little while untli they plan to move there.

I'm trying to talk them round, but it's proving hard to do.

After getting this far, I feel sorry for them if they don't manage to get the line installed due to this final hurdle.
Standard User TheEulerID
(committed) Wed 21-Oct-15 17:12:45
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
I'd relax. I suspect that as long as BT keep being paid the line rental then that's all that really matters. Admittedly that's a cost, but it's not one big lump sum.

nb. at current wholesale rates it will take about 22 years before the cost of installation is recovered without even considering other maintenance costs. My guess is the records will be long lost before that.

Edited by TheEulerID (Wed 21-Oct-15 17:15:33)

Standard User gah789
(regular) Wed 21-Oct-15 17:33:56
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: radman_bob] [link to this post]
 
I am not sure that this makes sense. Suppose that we accept that the USO applies only to principal private residences. What you are suggesting is that BTOR wants to impose a covenant on the occupation of the house post-installation. I doubt that is enforceable - there are only a few circumstances (usually to do with key worker or agricultural planning restrictions) in which a housebuilder can require that a new house must be occupied as a main or only residence. These are always time-limited and they are extremely difficult to enforce.

Consider two scenarios:

A. A house is built or renovated and occupied as a main or only residence. You ask for a phone service. The cost is under the upper threshold, so BTOR has an obligation to install the line for the standard new line charge. Unless there is a change of use covenant, what happens after the line is installed is none of their business. Even if there is a convenant (which I doubt), it cannot apply indefinitely so it must expire after some period.

B. The line is installed before the house is occupied as a main or only residence. Then, to be consistent with A the liability to repay the extra installation cost only arises if the house is not occupied as a main residence. Once it is occupied as a main residence then the liability is extinguished.

So, unless BTOR are proposing some form of covenant on the property, any liability would be extinguished either after a limited period or when the house is occupied as a main residence. It seems that the only risk is that your parents change their minds between now and when they plan to occupy the house. That can be avoided by waiting until it is their main residence, in which case they are in Scenario A.
Standard User Zarjaz
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Fri 23-Oct-15 09:53:20
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: TheEulerID] [link to this post]
 
nb. at current wholesale rates it will take about 22 years before the cost of installation is recovered without even considering other maintenance costs. My guess is the records will be long lost before that.

Whilst I generally agree with the above, does it not also perfectly demonstrate the need for 'BT' to attempt to recoup costs ?
22 years for ROI ? and that's presuming the owners don't shift to a different provider.

Standard User radman_bob
(newbie) Mon 26-Oct-15 16:13:07
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Zarjaz] [link to this post]
 
Final update on this...

We decided in the end to postpone the line installation until when my parents are nearer to moving in - That way (should anything prevent them from moving in) they wouldn't have the £2100 liability.

Thanks everyone for their information, tips and ideas.
Standard User TheEulerID
(committed) Mon 26-Oct-15 16:31:57
Print Post

Re: Universal Service Obligation (USO)


[re: Zarjaz] [link to this post]
 
The USO was all part of the deal when BT was privatised. The idea is that, as a monopoly supplier, the cheap-to-service areas cross-subsidised the expensive, including subsidising of lines through call revenues.

Of course we are now in a very different world with fixed line competition in the cheap-to-service areas and a migration away from fixed line telephony to mobile and IP based services. Lines are wholesaled and the price heavily regulated with the priority on keeping costs down, There's nor prospect of downstream revenue either as the infrastructure business has to stand on its own.

(Oh, and people expect their line to carry broadband too, not just voice.

In all, a very different environment to when the business was sold to the public.
Pages in this thread: 1 | 2 | (show all)   Print Thread

Jump to