What businesses can do to avoid circuit installation delay

Circuit installation delays can hit business hard. Even the most professional and highly coordinated IT department can do very little when a carrier says there’s going to be a delay with setting up such essential network infrastructure.
It’s easy to think that delays won’t happen to you, but they do. Earlier this year, BT were fined a record £42m, the largest penalty ever levied by Ofcom – the punishment was for installation delays BT had claimed were out of their hands. The subsequent investigation found that the delays were due to BT failures and had caused significant damage to the companies who rely on their wide Openreach infrastructure.
On top of the fine, BT was ordered to pay £300m in compensation to other carriers – although experts say the true cost of delays could have impacted carriers and end-user companies significantly more.
The real statistics
A look at BT’s business installation statistics offer a worrying picture for anyone who’s dealing with Openreach or a company who uses their circuits.
• Nearly 50% of all circuit installations took more than 30 days to complete.
• Nearly 20% of all circuit installations exceeded their original agreed date.
• 7% of installations took over 159 working days (between 7-8 months) to deliver.
That 20% chance that your business installation will exceed agreed timescales might seem small – but how many CEOs would be happy if you sat before them and explained you were only 80% certain that the crucial new network would be delivered on time?
Ot her possible delays
Even if that 80% certainly was adequate, there’s a host of other possible delays that can put speedbumps in the road toward circuit delivery. If you’re thinking timescales, don’t forget to think about:
Excess Construction Charges (ECCs)
When looking at a new installation, Openreach perform a site survey to ascertain the scope of work required. If there is a large amount of work needed to get the necessary infrastructure in to place, a calculation is made to obtain the cost of those devleopments.
Openreach cover the first £2,800 of this work – any additional amount is passed on to your company. Aside from unforeseen budget expansion, this can cause untold timescale problems. The ECCs are sent to your business and work is automatically put on hold for 30 days. If there is any delay in accepting these charges (which can be the case if there is a lot of red tape to deal with in your organisation) then work is cancelled.
Traffic management, digging and wayleave
Even if there are ways around some ECC work, there’s still a possibility that delivery of your circuit will involve changes to some physical infrastructure. Whatever the work, if it impacts someone else’s property, wayleave is required.
Wayleave is a written legal requirement between Openreach and the person or business whose land or property will see construction activity. Physical access cannot be taken for granted – so agreement needs to be made before work begins.
If digging of any type is required ‘Permission to Dig’ is another legal requirement that needs to be agreed – as are any traffic management requirements that will take place around the dig. Suddenly landlords, councils and construction firms have a say in your circuit delivery time – which wouldn’t be a problem if everyone shared your urgency, but councils in particular can add anything from a few days to several months when it comes to the authorisation of any work that might disrupt traffic.
Avoiding ECCs
If you’re hit with ECCs and associated delays, it makes sense to challenge the work – even if you’re doing so while looking at how feasible the charges are going to be for the company. Request surveys and look at it together as a business – you don’t have to be a civil engineer to spot any mistakes, after all, you’re likely to know the location far better than anyone else.
Working with a good IT partner can also be positive when looking to avoid or foresee ECCs, SAS Global Communications offer a ‘Network in Advance’ service that sees a collaboration with Openreach to highlight any charges prior to a circuit order – meaning accurate budgets and timescales can be factored in from day one.
Other steps that help avoid delays
If you’re willing to over-estimate on the project, then you’re going to be able to soak up a lot of the delays that come your way. Experienced industry experts suggest adding 4-5 weeks – and it’s worth noting that it’s much easier to delay an installation than it is to bring it forward in the face of delays.
Asking your provider for frequent updates is another good tactic to make sure you’re on top of the slightest changes. Even if you’re not able to move things along any faster, the continual communication means you’re at least abreast of the shifting timescales– which means you can feedback to others in your business. Often, it’s the unexpected nature of delays that causes problems – allowances and provisions can be made if people know what’s happening.
If you simply can’t afford to miss
Luckily, there’s an ‘ultimate’ problem-solver if missing a circuit installation date is an absolute no-no. Where there is no room for error, companies look to a managed 4G WAN solution to get them connected despite delays and hold ups.
Essentially, a 4G WAN uses a number of 4G SIMs that are ‘bonded’ together with specialist networking equipment to create a fully mobile short-term networking solution. If you’re working with an experienced provider, the lead time can be as little as just a few days – meaning you’re up and running in the same time that it takes Openreach to send a single letter to a landlord.
Working with a managed network provider at the point of circuit installation can be hugely helpful whether or not you choose to employ any of their additional services. Experience counts for a tremendous amount when considering any potential hold ups. A manged provider can work between you and your carrier – asking the pertinent questions at the right moments and making sure you’re not left in the dark.

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