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OFCOM - Process and Procedures relating to BT Openreach and Broadband Harmful Interference

Martin Smyth made this Freedom of Information request to Office of Communications

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Dear Office of Communications,

For Broadband Telecommunications to homes, Openreach provide most of the Infrastructure and contract with Communication Providers who then contract with end users at houses and homes.

The end user installations, that are physically installed and setup by the end users in the houses and homes are prone to being setup incorrectly and not necessarily in line with instructions and guidance from Communication Providers. This can produce unwanted radiation of radio signals from any Openreach broadband wires and cables on the premises and along the road where overhead telegraph poles are still used. This subsequently interferes with short wave broadcast reception as covert type noise on the shortwave bands causing harmful interference to those wishing to listen to broadcast signals and also licensed organisations and individuals receiving on specific frequency's that cannot change.

1. Does BT Openreach have contracts with the Communications Providers that state that the broadband cables, filters and end devices must be setup in accordance with recommendations and these contractual statements are passed onto the end user customer in their homes (Back to back agreements).
2. Does BT Openreach ensure that he Communication Providers ensure that all home broadband installations are setup correctly and are regularly checked.
3. What is the contractually agreed process for a Communication Provider to remediate any installations at private premises, whereby a private individual complains to Ofcom and Ofcom agree along with BT Openreach that an installation is causing harmful interference
4. Does Ofcom ensure that all the above is covered off and that there are minimal to zero complaints regarding broadband harmful interference from poorly installed wiring and filters on private premises.
5. Would Ofcom be prepared to legally Challenge BT Openreach on the above, if there were issues.

Yours faithfully,

Martin Smyth

Jerin John, Office of Communications

Reference: 00950104
28/07/2020 11:54
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA

 
Jerin John
Information Requests

Freedom of Information request

Dear Martin Smyth,

Thank you for your request for information about Openreach and harmful
interference. Your request was received on 22/07/2020.

Where we hold the information you have requested we will endeavour to answer
your request in full and within 20 Working Days.

If we are unable to provide the information requested, we will explain why the
information has not been provided.

If you have any queries then please
contact [1][Ofcom request email].
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,
Jerin John
 
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Our mailing address is:
[5][Ofcom request email]

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Information Requests, Office of Communications

7 Attachments

Dear Mr Smyth,

 

Please find attached our response to your request for information.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Requests

:: Ofcom
   Riverside House
   2a Southwark Bridge Road
   London SE1 9HA
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[7]:: Stay connected during the coronavirus
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Dear Office of Communications,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Office of Communications's handling of my FOI request 'OFCOM - Process and Procedures relating to BT Openreach and Broadband Harmful Interference'.

Dear Ofcom,

I wish to exercise my rights for an internal review by Ofcom prior to any potential reviews by the Information Commissioners Office, RSGB and Media.

I refer to the attached FOI request 950104

1.

You provided some background to your request:
For Broadband Telecommunications to homes, Openreach provide most of the Infrastructure and contract with Communication Providers who then contract with end users at houses and homes.
The end user installations, that are physically installed and setup by the end users in the houses and homes are prone to being setup incorrectly and not necessarily in line with instructions and guidance from Communication Providers. This can produce unwanted radiation of radio signals from any Openreach broadband wires and cables on the premises and along the road where overhead telegraph poles are still used. This subsequently interferes with short wave broadcast reception as covert type noise on the shortwave bands causing harmful interference to those wishing to listen to broadcast signals and also licensed organisations and individuals receiving on specific frequency's that cannot change.
I have understood your request to refer to interference to shortwave radio reception attributed to electromagnetic emissions from Openreach cables carrying VDSL technology.

This statement from Ofcom is untrue, “I have understood your request to refer to interference to shortwave radio reception attributed to electromagnetic emissions from Openreach cables carrying VDSL technology.”

Please can Ofcom confirm that they understand my request to refer to interference to shortwave radio reception attributed to electromagnetic emissions from Openreach cables carrying VDSL technology, the source of which emanates and is produced in Exchanges and street cabinets.

The cables do not carry VDSL technology, since VDSL technology is abstract. The cables carry RF (Radio Frequency) which is modulated and emanates if unbalanced, causing harmful radio interference.

2.

Does BT Openreach have contracts with the Communications Providers that state that the broadband cables, filters and end devices must be setup in accordance with recommendations and these contractual statements are passed onto the end user customer in their homes (Back to back agreements).
We do not hold this information.

Ofcom should be “All Over” BT Openreach as a true Business relationship with Ofcom as a Regulator, ensuring they behave in a professional manner and not take advantage through legal loop holes. BT Openreach have a competitor advantage with their Broadband VDSL technology over other technologies and Businesses if Ofcom do not ensure BT Openeach have back to back agreements from themselves to service providers to end users; ensuring the technology is setup correctly. If Ofcom do not hold information that BT Openreach have any back to back agreements, then I would suggest that Ofcom are failing in their Public Duties, allowing BT Openreach to have a competitive advantage.

3.

Does BT Openreach ensure that the Communication Providers ensure that all home broadband installations are setup correctly and are regularly checked.
We do not hold this information.

As above, Ofcom as The Regulator, should be “All Over” BT Openreach, ensuring they behave in a professional manner and not take advantage through legal loop holes. BT Openreach have a competitor advantage with their Broadband VDSL technology over other technologies and Businesses if they do not have any assurance method; ensuring the technology is setup and maintained correctly from end to end. If Ofcom do not ensure that BT Openreach maintain the end to end system, allowing for harmful radio interference to occur, then I would suggest that Ofcom are failing in their Public Duties.

4.

What is the contractually agreed process for a Communication Provider to remediate any installations at private premises, whereby a private individual complains to Ofcom and Ofcom agree along with BT Openreach that an installation is causing harmful interference
As we do not have enforcement powers which extend to VDSL interference, we do not hold this information. Please see below for background information regarding our statutory duties and VDSL interference.

Radio telegraphy interference can come from any electrical appliance emanating harmful interference. There are no exceptions to this, even if it is BT Openreach. With Ofcom suggesting that VDSL technology is exempt from the law (or enforcement powers)is an obvious competitive advantage that is being allowed. I would suggest that this is another example of Ofcom failing in its Public Duties.

Please understand:

The MSAN’s (or equivalent) (Multi Service Access Nodes) of which there can be 2 types:
A Exchange based MSAN,installed inside the telephone exchange.
B Cabinet based MSAN, which are installed on the road sides, in general.

These are transmitters and emanate RF radio waves along the copper wires to houses and private homes. They are transmitters emanating RF and follow the same design as any broadcast or standard radio transmitter (PMR, GSM, radio amateur, MOD, Emergency Services, Pirates), in that they have:
A. A powers supply
B. An Oscillator (producing radio frequencies)
C. A modulator(Putting the data onto the radio frequencies)
D. An amplifier (Amplifying the combined oscillator and modulated signal)
E. A tuner (For matching the MSAN to each copper line)

Transmitters are devices that are used to send out data as radio waves in a specific band of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to fulfill a specific communication need, be it for voice or for general data. In order to do this, a transmitter takes energy from a power source and transforms this into a radio frequency alternating current that changes direction millions to billions of times per second depending on the band that the transmitter needs to send in. When this rapidly changing energy is directed through a conductor, in this case an antenna, electromagnetic or radio waves are radiated outwards to be received by another antenna that is connected to a receiver that reverses the process to come up with the actual message or data.

These MSANS are connected to the copper wires along the street which are aerials (antenna’s) and emanate the radio frequencies as harmful interference, especially when private households have bad/poor installations.

The MSAN’s (or equivalent) are the transmitters and the copper street wires are the aerials. The MSANS are designed to transmit, but if the end of the transmission line is badly terminated (poor installs), then the aerials emanate harmful radio interference.

Ofcom do have enforcement powers regarding transmitters emanating RF from any medium, creating harmful radio interference. I would suggest that Ofcom are failing in its Public Duties if this continued to be ignored.

5.

Does Ofcom ensure that all the above is covered off and that there are minimal to zero complaints regarding broadband harmful interference from poorly installed wiring and filters on private premises.
As we do not hold information in scope of questions 1 – 3, we are not able to provide an answer to this part of your request. However, please see below for background information regarding VDSL interference.

Ofcom does have complaints regarding broadband harmful interference from VDSL and also has information (recorded or not) that it is down to poorly installed wiring and filters on private premises. I can provide proof of this and again would suggest that Ofcom is failing in its Public Duties to suggest they do not hold this information.

6.

Would Ofcom be prepared to legally Challenge BT Openreach on the above, if there were issues.
This is not a valid request under the Act as we are not required to provide a view.

It may not be required under the Act, but considering that Ofcom are not following up in the response by stating that they are the regulator for the communications services and consider all possible infringements very seriously, I am concerned as a member of the public, that Ofcom are failing in their Public Duties.

Thank you for the consideration in this matter,

Regards,

Martin Smyth

Bay Tree House
111 Forest Road
Whitehill
Hants
GU359BA

Home: 01420 477071
Mobile: 07906 124747

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Yours faithfully,

Martin Smyth

Catriona Lawrence, Office of Communications

Dear Mr Smyth,

Thank you for your request for an internal review. We will be in touch with a response in due course.

Kind regards
Internal Reviews
:: Internal Reviews
Information Requests
:: Ofcom
Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA
www.ofcom.org.uk
:: Keep up with Ofcom on social media

:: Stay connected during the coronavirus

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Information Requests, Office of Communications

7 Attachments

Dear Mr Smyth,

 

Please see the attached response to your request for an internal review.

 

Kind regards

Internal Reviews

:: Internal Reviews
   Information Requests

:: Ofcom
    Riverside House
    2A Southwark Bridge Road
    London SE1 9HA
    [1]www.ofcom.org.uk

:: Keep up with Ofcom on social media

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[7]:: Stay connected during the coronavirus
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