by Ian Fishwick

Sometimes the fastest way to get things done is to operate quietly behind closed doors.

Innopsis would now like to share with members what we have been doing to help during the Covid-19 crisis.

Innopsis recognise that few of our members only sell to public sector bodies. Most also have commercial customers. We need to do what we can to keep UK business customers alive through this crisis. We also need to mitigate where we can the impact of Openreach charging network providers for things they cannot charge on to end users either because they will not or cannot pay. We must try to avoid financial problems at network providers destabilising the public sector supply chain when many of us are busy supporting critical services such as the NHS.

With this in mind; the Innopsis directors agreed on Monday 8th April, that we needed to play a more active role. As Commercial and SME Director I was tasked with talking to as many companies as possible to ascertain what we could do to help.

On Wednesday 10th April I joined a video call with over 30 of the great and the good from our industry. Many thanks to Livingbridge for helping us to assemble such a senior group so quickly. On the call we sought to agree what were the generic problems facing our industry and what we needed to do to alleviate them. After listening to a feisty debate, I summarised the three key issues as all needing assistance from BT Openreach:

  1. Soft ceases – the ability of a customer to temporarily cease lines or circuits at no cost and reinstate them once lockdown has gone
  2. The removal or reduction of Early Termination Charges when a customer can no longer afford a long-term contract
  3. The ability for a customer to cancel an order for a circuit that had not yet been installed

We agreed that I should write a letter to Clive Selley, CEO Openreach and a covering letter to Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for DCMS and Melanie Dawes, CEO Ofcom on behalf of all those on the call.

On Thursday 11th April, David Goldie (former founder of Opal, former main board director of Talk Talk and now Chairman of Southern Communications) worked with me to draft the two letters.

Over the Easter weekend, two trade associations (Innopsis and FCS) and 18 of the UK’s largest Communication Providers [CPs] all agreed to put their names to the two letters.

On Tuesday 14th April, after some final drafting tweaks, the letters were sent to Openreach and DCMS/Ofcom at noon.

Less than 6 hours later Openreach issued a new CP Briefing addressing all the issues we had raised. Many thanks go to the team at Openreach for understanding the serious and urgent nature of the letters.

Copies of the letters to Openreach, DCMS/Ofcom and the subsequent CP Briefing from Openreach are attached.

Innopsis is proud to have played a significant part in helping our industry and its customers survive the Covid-19 crisis

Post expires at 10:51am on Thursday October 15th, 2020

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