BT’s network division, Openreach, will have to speed up repairs and installations under new rules proposed by telecom regulator Ofcom.
Most ISPs, excluding Virgin Media, use Openreach’s copper and fibre phone network to provide services to residential and business users.
When an end customer reports a fault or order a new installation with their ISP that company in turn has to book Openreach to carry out the work on their behalf.
The company has earned a reputation for being slow and unresponsive, with end users frequently taking to social media to complain of delayed or missed appointments.
Phone and broadband users also complain about engineers arriving but being unable to complete the work and then having to wait days or weeks for a follow-up appointment.
In order to improve the service customers receive, Ofcom will in future require Openreach to complete 80% of fault repairs within 2 working days and connect new installations within 12 working days. If it fails to meet the new targets, the company risks Ofcom imposing fines.
In both cases the clock starts once Openreach is notified by the user’s broadband or phone provider.
Earlier this week Openreach announced plans to recruit a further 1,600 engineers and said it would publish performance data online.
The rules will come into effect later this year subject to approval by the European Commission.
However BT’s competitors were left disappointed after the regulator declined to set a wholesale price for fibre broadband access.
Rivals have long complained BT squeezes their margins by undercharging its retail customers for its Infinity broadband service while charging other ISPs too much for fibre access.
Despite Ofcom’s decision not to impose a wholesale price, it is looking at BT’s margins and is expected to make an announcement in the coming weeks.