Circuit delays. It’s a word that induces feelings of frustration, stress and tension in many IT departments.
Circuit delays pose the greatest risk to any project involving opening a new office, moving to a new site or changing carrier. This puts considerable pressure on the IT team, throwing them under the spotlight to the rest of the business teams who are managing their workflows based around the circuit going live on the date provided by the carrier.
Although it’s little consolation to hear that delays are often unavoidable (despite being true), what can help take the edge off is knowing the cause behind the delay and what (if anything) you can do to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place.
In this blog, we’re going to look at the 4 most common causes of delay in WAN or Internet circuit delivery and what you can do to address them.
There are a number of variables that can crop up during the delivery process, all of which can that can lead to significant delays, starting with…
Excess Construction Charges (ECCs)
These are the unexpected and unbudgeted costs that can crop up in the first few weeks of a circuit order.
During the Openreach site survey, if the planner discovers that additional Openreach line plant (eg. ducts, poles, fibre optic cable) is required, then excess construction charges will be raised. The work required might include digging new ducting under pavements and roads, installing new cabling above or below ground, and new joint boxes being built.
Openreach will absorb the first £2,800 of these costs, with the outstanding amount being passed on to the customer for payment. The ECCs are sent to the customer, during which time the order is suspended for 30 working days, awaiting customer to accept these charges. If the ECCs are not agreed in this time frame, the order is cancelled.
It's good practice to challenge ECCs and request the survey details, which allows you to check that they are correct. In some cases, a better cable route or an on-site visit can significantly reduce or negate the ECCs.
It is also possible to highlight ECCs in advance of your circuit order. For example, here at SAS, we have a Network in Advance (NIA) service that works with Openreach to highlight and review ECCs in advance of a customer placing a circuit order. This help remove any nasty surprises once the order is placed
Once the ECCs are agreed and overcome, some or all of the risks below may still crop up and delay your project.
If access is required to an existing duct in the road, or Openreach needs to extend or build a new duct (for example) then temporary traffic lights are needed for a lane closure. In some cases, a full road closure is necessary. This process is instigated when Openreach sends a request to the local council for a traffic management permit - there is often a delay here while the council grants approval. Council lead times vary from a matter of days to several months.
The timescale will also depend on the importance of that road and any other utility works or public events that may be happening at that time.
Traffic management is considered to be a third party delay, which means that may carriers managed service providers and systems integrators do not escalate the issue on your behalf. This means that a traffic management delay becomes a sit-tight-and-hope-the-council-grant-approval-sharpish situation!
A wayleave is a written legal agreement between Openreach and the landlord whose land will be subject to site activity. The landlord needs to grant Openreach access to the land or building before any building work starts or on-site equipment is installed. Within the wayleave document, details of the work required – and where access is needed – are outlined.
All correspondence is carried out between Openreach and the landlord – not between the customer or managed network provider.
In some instances, the landlord will be the customer’s existing on-site landlord, in others it can be that there are multiple landlords that own the building and a wayleave must be signed by all of them. Again, as with the issue of traffic management, many carriers, managed service providers and systems integrators simply wait for this to occur instead of proactively applying pressure.
Permission to Dig (PTD)
If Openreach needs to dig, then permission must be granted by the owner of the land. A PTD document that details the dig work required is sent to the landlord for agreement.
If this landlord is your landlord, you can probably exert some pressure on them to respond promptly and avoid a lengthy hold up.
Our top tips for avoiding delays are:
1. Order circuits early.
Always add an extra 4 weeks, this gives you a cushion in the UK and even more if International. Remember: It is always easier to hold a circuit back if it looks as though it will be arriving early than it is trying to escalate delivery.
2. Get a detailed Openreach site audit completed in advance in the UK.
This will highlight the level of potential risk from the outset, enabling you to inform the business from the outset and make alternative or interim arrangements for connectivity. This could be done using satellite, mobile 4G or DSL based solutions.
3. Ensure you get regular and details updates from your carrier during the circuit delivery.
Generally speaking, no news is bad news and usually results in increased risk. To de-risk circuit delivery, make sure you check the circuit during every stage of its delivery. To find out what these stages are, take a look at our recent blog WAN Circuit Delivery - An Overview.
In many cases, circuits will be delivered on time. However, if they are business critical then it's essential that you understand all of the risks that could delay your project and communicate them back to your business.
We hope that you are among the fortunate few who manage to avoid any kind of delay to your project. If you’re not, then we hope you find the guidance here reassuring and know that the team here at SAS are always on hand to help. If you suffer a delayed circuit, read our guidance here.