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Update on Origin Broadband's plans following closure of DRL

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Hi,

 

We're currently calling each customer individually to deal with the DRL closure as quickly as possible.

 

Any customer who has not yet had their call will be receiving it very soon.

 

Pete

Edited by Origin_Pete

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I'm definitely getting a little concerned that I haven't been contacted yet. If I didn't read here and facebook etc I wouldn't have a clue what was going on.

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I'm definitely getting a little concerned that I haven't been contacted yet. If I didn't read here and facebook etc I wouldn't have a clue what was going on.

 

I appreciate that, and I'm sorry we haven't reached you sooner. Our team are on the phone all day every day trying to arrange something for every customer.

 

A large percentage of our customers are based on Digital Region - and each customer generally needs to be called multiple times to get the arrangements in place so it's taking a while to get to everyone.

 

If you'd like to PM your details, I can ask that a member of staff calls you today to bring you up to speed on everything. I'm not sure any other ISP has ever had to deal with a situation like this - affecting such a large percentage of their customers before, but we're doing our best.

 

Thank you for your patience while we get this done :)

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It's fine Pete, as long as I know you're on it, I'll wait my turn :)

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Hi,

 

We're currently calling each customer individually to deal with the DRL closure as quickly as possible.

 

Any customer who has not yet had their call will be receiving it very soon.

 

Pete

 

Hold on, you're an ISP - you know that your customers should have internet access so why not email an update out and/or put a message up in their member's area of when a customer logs into their account? If a customer wants to actually talk to you about the changes/cancellations then they can ring you at a time to suit them, and you can add a message path to your call system giving general details before being passed to an operator. If a customer is requesting a callback then they can raise an email to you themselves requesting this and stating a good time to call. It seems to me that even with a small customer base (compared to a lot of your competition) that you're creating extra workload for yourselves especially at what is probably an already busy time. You need to work smarter not harder, or maybe a little bit of both.

 

A lot of your customers will already be in varying stages of being hacked off, and although it's good that you are calling customers, you are invariably going to be seen to be prioritising some customers over others (i.e people talk on forums like we're doing now... Person X receives a phone call and then posts on a forum, person Y a week later sees that and wonders why they still haven't been called.) You're a lot more likely to get people annoyed this way, especially at the possibility of calling at inappropriate times for the customer and/or actually missing customers out. It already feels that you guys seem to be dragging your feet on some of this. Understand that from the customer's perspective, they might feel that they're going to completely lose their internet connection in a month's time if they're being missed out in error or as some may perceive deliberately due to costs - and your customers already pay a premium for their broadband connection in comparison to a lot of the competition. The customers (such as myself) who have chosen you against other BT Wholesaled fibre competitors (BT/Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, EE etc.) at the time chose you because you were a local player with a dedicated network that was less likely to suffer contention and we were willing to pay the premium, partly on provision that you probably wouldn't be employing major QoS/Traffic profiling and deep packet inspection for some time yet. We were also supporting a network that we'd technically already paid for in our taxes and wanted to see expand and succeed. You'll probably find that your current customer base was also one of your main forms of advertising via word of mouth so long as they were happy with the service.

 

Customers such as myself are actually concerned about the current state of affairs. That I can see the need for you to appeal to a wider audience and compete with the other contenders now on price too, but that if you're suddenly about to become a national player as opposed to a regional one, and that you're already being slow with handling the transitions for your current customer base then this perhaps doesn't bode well for the future. We're also going to be faced with BT contention and profiling on our connections going forward, which is in part one of the reasons for choosing you guys against that in the first place.

 

As a business you're about to go from being a large voice on a small network that can get things done when issues occur on it, to a really small player with a small voice on the incumbent mammoth network who won't prioritise you against others who have used their services for years, and that if they manage to break you down then your customer base now has an easier chance of migrating to one of the two ISPs that BT Group have ownership of or another competitor, yet you don't seem to be acknowledging or attempting to respond to any of these business risks.

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They'd rather spend time deleting any questions and comments off their Facebook page. I advised a friend about his options and strangely all my comments disappeared. Maybe if they spent more time concentrating on communicating with their customers they would have kept original loyal customers like myself who recommended others to join. As it is now, and has been for the past few months I'd advise people to avoid them.

 

Given the loss of DRL they:

 

i) Can no longer offer the level of service they once did in terms of speed.

ii) Are significantly more expensive than the likes of PlusNet/Sky etc when their 12 month contracts are taken side by side (£2.49/£3.75 month versus £9.99)

iii) Have a new network that nobody has experienced/has no reputation as being reliable and capable.

iv) Failed to communicate and show they value their customers

 

Its everyones decision to make - but their current offering cannot win on any factor...(even the "support a local workers/company stance cannot hold up against PlusNet).

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We are at Stannington S6 and have been very happy with Origin but things now look grim as the big ISPs can only offer a little over 1 mb (back to the dark ages)for the foreseeable future!

Can anyone else in our area offer advice for the next best move?

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I feel the need to defend Origin on some levels here, even though I'm slightly over the fence on being irritated at the complete lack of communication for defined resolutions paths and advice on future charges for their current user base. Their 'new' broadband comparison page isn't exactly clear in the differential between the Ignition and Fusion packages - on DR you get increased upload, so are BT actually allowing this to continue via their own wholesale network on select cabinets? I doubt it, as it would make contention issues appear worse, what with ACK packages being slowed down the more upload per cab is taken. So what exactly is the differential point between the two packages (at first glance from the comparisons pages) that justifies the extra £60 per year?

Given the loss of DRL they:

 

i) Can no longer offer the level of service they once did in terms of speed.

If you're in a BT Infinity fibre enabled area then Origin should still be able to provide you with fibre, and it should be the same synchronised speed that you would be able to achieve on any of the other remaining Fibre broadband players (with the exception of Virgin Media who use a completely different network/technology) - they haven't confirmed if you'll be put into a brand new contract and for how long the contract will likely be. Some customers on the Max package may lose some of their top speed as BT currently top out at about 80Mbit and some DR customers can beat that, but the majority even on Max will probably see similar speeds. BT cabinets are essentially in similar locations to Digital Region ones, so there should be little difference, even though BTs hardware and protocols are a little different than Digital Region. No doubt Origin will incur BT Wholesale access charges and will be charged for making the relevant changes. BT Openreach will have to attend the relevant cabinet in order to make the switch which again would be chargeable. In order to recoup these charges then Origin will probably have to re-contract the customer in order to ensure that they recoup this business expense and to ensure that they can still remain profitable.

 

Alternatively, Origin can also continue providing you with ADSL via the BT Wholesale backhaul. (I doubt Origin have the financial ability to be able to build themselves up as a full proper LLU and put their own equipment in the local BT Exchanges, so they'll end up having to use the BT Wholesale IPStream products i.e BT's back-haul back to the ISP's racks) This should be available for customers that aren't in a fibre enabled area and will possibly be also offered to fibre customers with a fibre-migration option who may also wish to downgrade back to ADSL.

 

Origin would be charged exactly the same access charges as the other networks (including Plusnet and BT - yes, BT Wholesale access charges do apply to BT's own 'retail' ISPs!) They are set market prices and Ofcom does not allow BT Wholesale nor BT Openreach to charge differential access charges depending upon the different competing ISPs. They may however in theory charge Origin whatever they like to do a Fibre migration, especially given the time constraints - that being said, there was a whole court case bought by Thales/Digital Region a few years ago against BT Wholesale/Openreach about the engineer access charges to sort the street cabinet connections - These charges are for 'Sub-Loop unbundling' which is what all current Digital Region Fibre customers are currently classed as. The access charges will possibly be exactly the same as it's a reversed connection, though a deal may have been made now between BT and Origin (/the other DR ISPs that may be continuing with BT Wholesale'd connections) to do this work cheaper, in order to sweeten the deal and maintain a 'healthy new/ongoing business relationship' between them going forward, especially in light of the fact that there has been previous Ofcom cases regarding this network (Digital Region) and BT group.

ii) Are significantly more expensive than the likes of PlusNet/Sky etc when their 12 month contracts are taken side by side (£2.49/£3.75 month versus £9.99)

It is Origin's choice as to how much profit margin they'd need to make per customer against other competition. The main differential between Origin and the other players in the marketplace is that the others are larger players now (Tier 1 and 2 as opposed to smaller Tier 3 like Origin) who will have their own LLU back-hauls in place. This gives them a distinct advantage and will invariably keep their costs down, which means that some of this cost saving can be used to entice customers with lower charges. The larger playesr already have the better economies of scale, and Origin will no doubt have a lot more significant overhanging historical debt, with more costs due to hit them soon for all these changes and access charges. Opening their network up and getting BT as a partner will help them get to a wider audience, but it will no doubt take them a while for prices to come down as their creditors/backers will eventually require to seek a return on their investments.

iii) Have a new network that nobody has experienced/has no reputation as being reliable and capable.

This has already been explained - the Origin side of the network i.e their own POP (point of presense) back-haul out to the WAN/'Internet Proper' via the peering partners (perhaps Lo-Nap, JNet, Level 3 etc.) will be just the same as what you're used to already. There'll probably be a marginal improvement for the first couple of weeks actually, as a few Fibre customers are downgraded to ADSL so hence using less bandwidth. This may soon however get swallowed back up with new customers coming on stream nationally. Don't underestimate the number of 'savvy' customers out there who'd be willing to go with a smaller ISP who might be able to listen to them and offer extras such as static IPs at least in the short term. Plusnet appears to have run out of IPv4 and recently asked for volunteers to trial a NATed WAN implementation (link to article on the Register) to try and hold out until IPv6 hits a better stride.

 

iv) Failed to communicate and show they value their customers

It is a little like night and day, the difference between for instance Origin Pete's old "Join Origin" posts, he used to be on here pretty much every day - he's now near conspicuous by his absence. I'm giving him and others the benefit of the doubt, that they'll probably be busy contacting customers (at least they say they are - can anyone confirm that they've been called yet? How did the call go? Were you resolved and are you happy now as a continuing customer?) I still maintain though that now is actually the time that they need to be communicating decently via the forums in order to maintain a decent customer perception. This transitional period will either make or break them as an ISP. My thought is that they may last a while as an ISP but ultimately will have to split their operations (they have a data centre and do Co-Location etc.) and may end up winding down the ISP side, or that they may be taken over - a lot of the smaller to medium sized players already have been. There is a lot less competition in the marketplace now, especially since BT took over Plusnet (even though they are still technically 'seperate' ISPs, Plusnet is now BT's roll-out/staging platform for testing etc) but with the likes of Telephonica (O2/BE Broadband) being sold off to Sky then there's even consolidation of the larger players now, which again leaves less choice for the customer, especially when the underlying fibre infrastructure is going to be the same.

 

Its everyones decision to make - but their current offering cannot win on any factor...(even the "support a local workers/company stance cannot hold up against PlusNet).

The 'support local workers' argument is a bit of a moot point with regards to Plusnet now - yes, they have offices in Sheffield but they've now also opened up offices/call centre in Leeds. They are owned by BT Group, they are no longer Plusnet PLC. They are not really a local company. To say 'Support Plusnet because they're local' they opened Leeds up to maintain the 'support Local Yorkshire broadband' image - you may also say to 'support the local workers' about Sky now, seen as they have a call centre in Sheffield at The Works (opposite the train station). BT will maintain the Sheffield offices so long as they see that there is a need, but looking at the bigger picture - BT Retail pulled out of Sheffield when the council pushed forward Sevenstone. If BT wish to amalgamate offices and it works out better for their business to move out of Sheffield then no doubt they will.

 

Origin are still at least a 'small local company' that are just basically trying to expand and go national. I hope that they can succeed and I wish them well in doing it - but at the same time, I hope that they can maintain/improve their standards as at present I believe that the stress of this whole thing is getting to them at the moment. They need their current customers to stay and be loyal and maintain them and then for those customers to spread the word about Origin to get more customers on board for their company to succeed going forward, alongside whatever advertising they do in future. They need to differentiate themselves against Plusnet, compete not copy. Plusnet has historically made a list of major mistakes as a small company growing up, and no doubt internally they'll still make mistakes - they're run by humans so it's inevitable. Origin needs to make their own mistakes, and not compare themselves to Plusnet who have already evolved and moved on and are in a different stage/state - there's plenty of people who won't touch Plusnet even now because of previous issues. Stains can blight a company for an indefinite time period.

 

---------- Post added 11-07-2014 at 22:03 ----------

 

*edit*

Just seen this other thread on Sheffield Forum that BT has won the BDUK tender for South Yorkshire - this may be a game changer if BT do pick up Digital Region assets for some, but they'll probably not want to pick up the whole lot unless the council's pretty much give BT the whole lot part and parcel, then BT would probably want to snap their hands off, though appear to be taking it all on begrudgingly. It all depends how quickly decisions are taken and contracts signed as to what happens next. Some of us may just maintain some continuity of service for a while longer, just with BT maintaining and managing the DR wholesale infrastructure for a while until they switch over to their hardware. We're now in a game of 'wait and see'

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there is other options available out there such as fttc and efm also if your willing to pay for it you can have leased lines.

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I received an email from Origin 14/7/2014, informing me about the changes, and that I was going to receive a phone call from them very soon.

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I think end-users need to start looking at all their options and not wait for Origin to ring them - what if you miss the call, what if they don't ring - are you going to be without a service on 14 Aug when it gets switched off - are they going to move you without your confirmation onto a new product under a new contract and charge you for it and then prevent you from moving

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I think end-users need to start looking at all their options and not wait for Origin to ring them - what if you miss the call, what if they don't ring - are you going to be without a service on 14 Aug when it gets switched off - are they going to move you without your confirmation onto a new product under a new contract and charge you for it and then prevent you from moving

 

I don't see that they CAN tie you into a contract if they move you without asking, still it might not be fun fighting it if they tried.

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