Solving Openreach's PIA Compliance Challenges with AI
#Solving Openreach's PIA Compliance Challenges with AI
PUBLISHED ON 5/10/2023
Openreach's Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) is critical in the UK's telco sector, with many Altnets relying on PIA to cut costs and optimise roll-outs. By enabling communication providers (CPs) to utilise Openreach's network infrastructure, PIA fosters competition and innovation within the telecom industry.
However, PIA's importance comes with its' fair share of technical challenges. From inaccurate photo submissions due to human error to work not being completed to the required standard – photo rejections can lead to time-consuming rework, increased costs, roll-outs and payment delays. However, Inveniam has a solution to this problem.
Openreach's PIA - an overview
Thousands of PIA notices and reports are submitted to Openreach every month. PIA has become an indispensable resource for communication providers seeking to expedite network deployments and manage costs through shared networks. It provides infrastructure access to alternative broadband network providers, or Altnets, enabling them to leverage Openreach’s extensive network infrastructure, accelerating network expansion.
Compliance process – why visual data is required
To demonstrate work has been completed to the required standard, Openreach requests CPs to share pictures for two processes – Notices of Intent (NoI) and Network Adjustments. Network Adjustments are required if any problems with Openreach's infrastructure are discovered, such as network blockages. In this case, Openreach can be asked to solve the issue, or the CP can self-provide the Network Adjustment using form A55. Openreach will require both the A55 form and A55b civil evidence report, along with photographic evidence.
Openreach also requires photographic evidence at the build completion phase of the NoI. These images must show equipment installed by the communication provider either in shared ducts and chambers or on poles, of which there are over 4M for use across the UK. Openreach mandates that high-quality, clear, precise and accurate photographic proof is shared with them within five days of finishing the work. Openreach then uses these photos to:
- Identify CP equipment within its infrastructure.
- Ensure quality assurance in terms of adhering to engineering standards as well as health and safety regulations.
Example photo requirements for PIA
PIA compliance challenges
Errors in photo submissions – contractors responsible for network construction and those forwarding submissions to Openreach need to ensure both the work completed and photos taken are compliant with Openreach standards. Photos are often rejected for either failing to meet the standard photo conformity requirements such as lighting and image size, or failing to complete the job to the required standard, such as ensuring the label ties are secured correctly.
Rework and delays – these errors can result in costly rework for Altnets, wasted resources, and stall the process at the network adjustment stage. Errors found in the submitted photos lead to laborious rework. Delays in correcting issues can postpone the deployment of CP services and hinder the roll-out of the new network footprint. Moreover, failure to achieve Right First Time (RFT) operations can extend project timelines and increase operational costs.
Photographic evidence checks – Openreach requires strict photographic evidence checks to ensure compliance with regulatory and quality standards. These checks include precise technical inspections of equipment, cable connections, chamber sizes, and adherence to established guidelines. The technical accuracy required for these checks adds complexity to the process.
Automating processes – automating the process is a key challenge communication providers want to solve by utilising AI technology. There are now several PIA-related applications in the market to support the process of raising NoIs, preparing build completion, or SPO reports. However, CPs are not yet using tools to automate the review of photos which is still very much a manual, labour-intensive process today, with CPs often only reviewing a small sample of photos before they are submitted to Openreach.
The role of computer vision
Computer vision is a type of AI that involves developing algorithms and models that can process images and videos, recognise objects and patterns, and extract useful information from visual data through triggering actions or automated responses. In this case, computer vision can improve Openreach's PIA compliance process for CPs by streamlining and optimising several critical aspects of PIA operations.
Computer vision can assist in conducting photographic evidence checks with precision and speed, ensuring compliance with regulatory and quality standards. Ultimately, computer vision can lead to increased operational efficiency, reduced costs, faster deployment of communication services, and improved overall quality and compliance within the PIA framework.
How can Inveniam AI help?
Inveniam's solution has the potential to bridge the gap, improving the current PIA submission and sign-off process for CPs. Our solution can quickly identify errors in network infrastructure, pinpoint photos before submission that are not Openreach-compliant, and provide detailed and accurate real-time feedback to build contractors and PIA managers to resolve issues.
Altnets can choose between Inveniam's portal or API for hassle-free integration, tracking progress across the entire lifecycle – from uploading photos to reviewing results and completed predictions. CPs can also leverage custom dashboards on request, including personalised KPIs and predictive real-time analytics. Inveniam's AI-powered solution provides:
AI-driven image analysis technology leverages machine learning algorithms to scrutinise photo submissions with remarkable precision. It can detect image quality issues, identify equipment and components, and ensure compliance with Openreach's technical standards.
Real-time feedback to contractors, field technicians and PIA compliance managers, pinpointing any deviations or anomalies in submitted photos. This immediate feedback allows for rapid correction, minimising the risk of costly rework and ensuring RFT operations.
Improved commercials – by consistently meeting regulatory and quality standards, Inveniam's solution helps CPs avoid unnecessary charges for non-compliance for non-compliance, as well as accelerating Openreach job closure and payment for self-provide Network Adjustments.
Notice of Intent process
To show the benefits of Inveniam AI, here are two separate situations illustrating how the NoI process would go without and with the help of AI.
Proven success – Axione's success story
Our deployment with Axione in France showcases how our solution has been used to the benefit of both the prominent FTTP infrastructure operator and CPs utilising its shared infrastructure. Prior to deployment, Axione was only able to review 10% of photos submitted by CPs due to the time taken to manually review each photo and report the results.
Thanks to our AI solution, Axione is able to review 100% of the submitted photos, significantly speeding up the review process for CPs, and quickly detecting any issues across every non-compliant photo, totalling ~4 million images over 2 years. The collaboration has resulted in a remarkable 46% decrease in critical tickets and a 25% reduction in the number of cabinets with more than one anomaly.
The intricate technical challenges associated with PIA in the UK's telecom market necessitate cutting-edge solutions. Inveniam's computer vision solution offers a technical revolution to tackle the challenges of photo compliance head-on. CPs can utilise Inveniam's AI-powered visual automation to accelerate the process whilst reducing resource, rework, and Openreach costs, complying with the photographic evidence requirement necessitated by Openreach.