No new business likes to have their plans taken out of their hands – but that’s exactly what happens every day when organisations come up against delays having new network circuits put into place.
Delays most commonly happen when a network carrier doesn’t or can’t deliver on the planned circuit installation date. In the UK, these circuits are commonly installed by Openreach, a part of BT that provides and manages internet infrastructure throughout the country.
This article explains the intricacies of installation delays – giving you an overview of what can occur and give you some tips on what you can do to make sure your delivery date is kept in your hands…
When you’re dealing with the biggest communications companies in the country you can be forgiven for expecting an exceptional service – sadly, it’s this expectation that often leaves people floundering, without an internet connection or the possibility of having one established in a reasonable timeframe.
By their own admission, it is common for Openreach to miss their circuit installation. Although there’s a variety of reasons, that general level of unreliability leads us to our first piece of advice:
1. Over estimate on time.
Rather than working to a ‘best case scenario’ when it comes to getting your network set up, experienced industry experts suggest putting a ‘worst case scenario’ plan in place.
While this isn’t truly ‘avoiding’ a delay – it is setting your company’s expectations realistically, meaning everyone buys into a longer timeframe than is necessary. Should your circuit provider come good with installation dates, then all is well and plans can be brought forward – should you desire.
It’s often some of a new business or start-up’s most crucial plans that are built around establishing a new office or location – so delays can have an enormous impact.
2. Order quickly.
You might think that your circuit is in the pipeline from the moment an order is raised – but this is a misconception and can mean avoidable delays.
The order does not become official until paperwork is signed, returned and processed by Openreach. Every day that order forms sits on your desk without a signature is another day added onto the installation process.
3. Ask for updates.
Although companies will claim that there is no advantage given to people or organisations that are constantly on the phone asking for updates or concessions, there’s certainly unlikely to be any penalty for doing so – and it’s better to be informed than in the dark.
When you order you circuit installation you’ll be given circuit ID numbers that an account manager will fit into a much larger order of work with the supplier. This larger order of work is extremely fluid in nature – whereas the plans you’ve submitted to your board might not come with such flexibility. Even if your timescales have to move, it’s better that you know today rather than tomorrow – especially if there’s action you can take to move other plans accordingly.
4. Challenge ECC work.
ECC stands for Excess Construction Charges – and they’re often a source of delay and cost when it comes to having a network installed. Openreach will assess your business location – its proximity to their existing infrastructure and any work that will need to be done for a circuit to reach your premises.
There’s a variety of work that might be needed, including:
Traffic management: If traffic is going to be impacted by work then your local council needs to sign off on the work being done. Councils and Openreach usually work together fairly seamlessly, given the amount of requests processed, but this can add time.
Wayleave: If another person’s land or property is going to be impacted by works then they have to sign to give permission for that work to commence.
Permission to dig: Another area in which councils and landlords might become involved. Digging requires specialist permission to ensure other services aren’t disrupted.
The good news is, Openreach will cover a chunk of any cost imposed – although it does only run to the first £2800, so beyond that you could get a bill. When any of the above is needed you’ll be sent a proposal of works, along with an associated cost. Unfortunately, work will also automatically be delayed for 30 days – giving you time to agree and pay.
It’s at this stage that work can be disputed. Openreach are not always correct with their proposals, so going over them with a fine-tooth comb is recommended – you may well find that some miscalculation or error has been made, in which case you can correct them and (hopefully) pick back up on a reasonable timescale…
5. Don’t delay on paying charges.
If you receive a proposal for ECC work and it does need to be done, paying promptly is important. If no arrangement has been made to authorise and pay for work during the 30-day window you’ve been given, then work will be cancelled and your network installation plans will go back to the drawing board.
Any charges might well be a bitter pill to swallow for the business – but it should be looked at in a broader context – what would it mean to have to go back to the initial order stages for your business and any projected timescales and goals?
6. Use a ‘Network in Advance’ service.
There’s an enormous number of stages to any circuit installation order – hence, lots to go wrong. Interestingly, there is an official way of fast-tracking your circuit if you’re willing to pay.
Network in Advance (NIA) is a service provided by Openreach that begins the building of your infrastructure alongside any permissions they require to physically get your circuit into place. Openreach claim this reduces the chance of any associated ECCs impacting your final circuit installation time.
Openreach also claim that their NIA service will identify and address any issues that could occur prior to an order being placed – meaning that a full overview of costs and delays can be presented to business decision makers before mission critical timescales are discussed. You would normally access these infrastructure readiness services through a service provider who specialises in helping with remote or time-critical installations.