Being fair to A&A customers

Some people may be concerned over some of my fights with BT and what it all means.
  • A&A offer, generally, an "Internet service" to our customers.
  • We buy a "Broadband service" linking us to our customers from BT plc t/a BT Wholesale
  • BT plc t/a BT Wholesale "buy"* a metallic path from BT plc t/a Openreach
At each stage there are gaps, and each entity is responsible for those gaps.

E.g. if the broadband link from us to you is fine, but the "Internet connection" is broken, it is up to us to fix that. There are some things beyond our control, sadly, but we are selling an Internet service and it is up to us to try and make that work.

When the problem is with something we buy, like BT plc t/a BT Wholesale's broadband link and backhaul, they are responsible for fixing that, and we are responsible for making sure they do that.

When BT plc t/a Openreach are failing to provide a working metallic path, then they are responsible for fixing that, and BT plc t/a BT Wholesale are responsible for chasing BT plc t/a Openreach, and we are responsible for chasing BT plc t/a BT Wholesale.

At each stage there is added value. BT plc t/a BT Wholesale do not just buy a metallic path, they also have modems and BRASs and backhaul links and all sorts to make it all work. They expect the metallic path to provide working broadband which is more than BT plc t/a Openreach sell them, so BT plc t/a BT Wholesale have to find a way of making that work, just as they have to make a BRAS work.

Similarly, we add value, and if our routers are not working, or our LNS's are not working or our transit providers are not providing the service we contract them to provide, we have the job of getting that working and chasing people that need to do that.

It is all layers, with each layer agreeing to provide a specific layer of service.

All we are doing is making sure each responsibility fits in the right place and has the right party paying - we would never expect our customer to pay for repairing a metallic path or a broadband service or an Internet service.

We might expect someone to pay if sent on a wild goose chase and incurring costs when it was in fact their own modem or PC or wifi that was actually at fault, which is why we work with end users to check these things first. But if everything checked an eliminated, there is no risk of costs, and the same should apply at each layer in this. That is all we ask.

At the moment, one of these "layers", the BT plc t/a BT Wholesale and the Talk Talk part are trying to absolve some responsibility for the "broadband" aspect of what they sell, and pass on BT plc t/a Openreach charges even when they are for fixing broadband issues and so not our responsibility. That is all that needs fixing here.

So, just like Virgin(!) we will not charge for fixing a fault in what we provide.

We just need our suppliers to not charge us for a fault in what they provide to us.

* I say "buy" as the idea of one legal entity buying from itself is strange, at best.


  1. I wonder if it would be worth a letter to your MP, asking that this possible abuse of a monopoly position be raised in the House? That may concentrate BT plc's position somewhat.

  2. Well said, and I completely support you in fighting BT over this as it's crazy, unfair, and needs sorting.

    But it's easy for me to say that when my line is working fine. Were it broken, I might feel differently.

    You've said you are now refusing to pay for SFI2 visits, quite rightly.

    My concern would be that this means a customer is going to have to wait while you fight with BT for an open ended amount of time.

    Is there a time limit beyond which you'd pay (or provide a new line to avoid the problem and cease the old one, whatever) to ensure the customer had a working link?

  3. It'd have to wait until May now - there are no MPs at the moment (http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/general/dissolution/#jump-link-2)


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