BT must fix faulty broadband connections within two working days and fit new lines in within 12 days from this summer.
Communications regulator Ofcom has warned BT Openreach it could be fined if it fails to improve servicing standards for the lines between the exchange and customers.
As reported by Recombu last December, the regulator wants to make sure that BT hits four out of five repairs and installations requested by ISPs on time, by April 2016.
“The review was prompted by evidence of a decline in performance in 2012 and 2010,” Ofcom said in its Fixed access market reviews for 2014.
“Should Openreach fail to meet the new targets, it would face sanctions from Ofcom, which could include fines.”
BT must also publish statistics on how engineers are perfoming, and make it clear how long it will take to complete jobs which can’t be done to Ofcom’s deadlines.
However, the new rules won’t apply to superfast FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband, but Ofcom will monitor Openreach’s performance as the market develops.
There’s also an escape clause for extreme weather like the St Jude’s storm, where BT will be able to declare a state of emergency allowing it to ignore the new deadlines for up to three per cent of faults and one per cent of new line installations.
However, Openreach’s success will be measured regionally instead of nationally, so it won’t be able to use good conditions in one part of the country to cover up slow responses in another.
When Ofcom asked ISPs about BT Openreach’s performance, even its in-house sibling BT Retail said that unacceptable performance had lead to a rise in customer complaints.
BT promised to publish performance data from this summer: “BT welcomes the conclusion of this review, which recognises the link between improved customer service levels and the price of Openreach’s wholesale copper products for the first time.
“Openreach is committed to improving its customer service levels so we support the new targets outlined by Ofcom today. We have also stated that we will publish regular performance data on the Openreach website from this summer to increase transparency.”
BT Openreach announced on Monday it plans to take on around 1,600 engineers in a bid to improve customer satisfaction and complete various BDUK superfast broadband projects.