Blackstar Solutions Ethernet Provisioning Guide

21st October 2021 | Reading Time: 9 minute read

Provisioning and Billing Manager

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This page provides information regarding Blackstar Solutions’ ethernet provisioning guide of your Fibre Ethernet order, from placement to completion.  

Contents 

  • Blackstar Customer Information  
  • Pre-Survey Checklist  
  • Ethernet Categories  
  • Provisioning Milestones  
  • Potential Delays  
  • Engineering Activity Descriptions 
  • Abbreviation Glossary 
  • FAQs 

Blackstar Customer Information 

You’ll receive our Blackstar customer information document upon ordering, it’s essential this is returned to us before the order can be placed with the network.   

It saves time during the order, as it requires you to provide the site contacts for the survey, the site information for engineers, where the termination point should be installed and any configurations you may require. At this stage, you should also confirm if you will be needing additional useable IP addresses, as these will need to be justified with the network due to a global shortage.   

Remember, if you get stuck our experienced team will be on hand to answer any questions you may have. 

 

Pre-Survey Checklist 

Following completion of the Blackstar Customer Information Document your order will be placed with the supplier. Once your order has been placed with the supplier, they will want to do a survey. The survey is a critical point in the provisioning process.  

Your order will not progress unless a thorough survey has been completed. Help avoid delays by ensuring that:  

The building/site will be accessible for survey.  

If the site requires an induction, you let us know when we contact you to arrange an engineer visit.  

If the premises was built before 01/01/2000, you have the asbestos register certificate available for the engineer upon arrival.  

The onsite contact can provide access to all necessary areas for the survey, including comms cabinet, distribution point risers and intake areas.  

The on-site contact has the authority to verbally agree the internal cable route.  

If the building is multi-tenanted you can provide access to all areas.  

If there are any site specific access or security restrictions you make us aware as soon as possible.  

The termination is ready for installation.  

There is a mains power socket available within three metres of the circuit termination point. 

Please be aware that if the survey has to be terminated for one of these reasons an abortive visit fee may be charged. 

 

Ethernet Categories  

Your order will be categorised by the supplier based on complexity to deliver the circuit. Please note the delivery lead time will vary dependent on the ethernet category. Here is a breakdown of these categories:  

Category 1 Infrastructure build already to site and existing duct. Fibre may already be present or there may be a requirement for new blown fibre into the building.  

Cat 1.1 (No site survey required) ‘Quick Win’ – The provision of this circuit will progress straight through to the internal install.  

Cat 1.2 (Site survey is required) Our suppliers are confident that existing infrastructure is present at site but feel a site visit is required to confirm this and ensure their records are fully up to date.  

Category 2 Cabling work and new blown fibre are required in the underground ducts.  

Cat 2.1 Infrastructure records indicate that existing ducting can be used.  

Cat 2.2 New ducting is required to site. This could be because there is no existing infrastructure served to the premises or replacement duct work is needed.  

Category 3 New core infrastructure build required (Spine cable) due to supplier capacity restraints.  

Category 4 New core connectivity required at the exchange.  

Cat 4.1 If exchange tie cable is at capacity, an additional tie cable is needed.  

Cat 4.2 Exchange network upgrade is required. 

 

Provisioning Milestones 

An overview of the key milestones during your order journey can be seen below: 

Provisioning Manager assigned 

Blackstar Customer Information document sent to customer to capture requirements 

Order validation and network capacity checks 

Order submitted to carrier 

Carrier order acknowledgement  

Desktop planning determines whether a site survey is required 

Site survey booked with customer  

Site survey results received and remaining planning activities completed 

Job packs issued to engineers for external/internal fibre work 

Customer delivery date confirmed by carrier 

Engineers carry out all external work and civils if required 

Internal fibre and cabling work arranged 

Router sent to customer 

Fit and test in customer site and exchange with final remote commissioning  

Managed network provider receives handover from supplier 

Customer to install managed network router 

Managed network provider tests circuit 

Official handover to customer 

 

Potential Delays  

Blackstar has the experience and knowledge to ensure your order progress as quickly and smoothly as possible. 

We work pro-actively on your behalf with our suppliers and promise to regularly contact you with information on the progress of your order.  

Occasionally, orders are subject to unavoidable delays, which we detail below. There are many influences to take into consideration, ones that we can control and some that we can’t.   

Wayleave – A wayleave agreement is a consent in writing, that legally grants access for works to be completed on privately owned land or premises. . It’s a written legal agreement between the supplier and the land/property owner that grants access to install, maintain, or repair equipment. This requirement is bound by UK Law before starting any physical work.  

Driver circuit – When another circuit is the first one to be provisioned within the same local area. Any core dependencies will be carried out on the driver circuit along with any ECCs. Our circuit is reliant on ECC acceptance, and all external work being completed before your order can progress.  

Excess Construction Charges (ECC’s) – These may be incurred for your wayleave (if required) and for the provision of physical work. They are identified after the site survey and presented to us in the planning results. The order will not progress until acceptance of the charges is confirmed. 

Force Majeure Any circumstances beyond our control such as extreme weather conditions, power failures, and natural disasters.  

Requirement for supplier /core infrastructure build Spine cable/core cable.  

Noticing – Our supplier may need to work with local authorities/ councils to carry out any physical work as it may involve a temporary road closure or parking bay suspension. This is referred to as ‘noticing’ because they require permission from the local authority before proceeding. The time frame for these approvals varies regionally and can be up to three months.  

New customer lead-in requirement – If existing lead-in at the customer site is blocked or at full capacity, a new customer lead-in will be required.  

Permission to dig/work (PTD/W) – This is a document that needs to be signed by a private landowner in the event that an official wayleave document is not required. 

 

Engineer Activity Descriptions  

Your Blackstar provisioning manager may use terminology that can be confusing. Here we have listed all of the activities that may occur during your order journey: 

Test Rod & Tube (TRT) – If an existing duct is planned to be used, then engineers will use a rod to check that there are no blockages or damages to the duct. There may be a need to repair or replace the duct if so wayleave or traffic management may be required which could significantly delay the order.  

Internal cabling – Required in the installation property. To provide the cabling internally, wayleave may be required.  

Internal concrete – Required in the installation property. A hole will be drilled through a concrete wall to feed through the cabling.  

Civils – A requirement for new ducts, joint boxes or to repair underground infrastructure.  

Tubing – Suppliers install new tubing where it has been highlighted as required.  

Cabling – Once blown fibre/TRT/tubing is completed, suppliers can then carry out the cabling as required. If any damages are found and replacements are required then Traffic Management (TM) may be needed.  

Internal non concrete – Required in the installation property to drill a hole through a non-concrete wall to feed the cabling through, which will be carried out by a contractor. 

Splicing – When fibre cables need to be fused together 

Street Works – Dependent on the location, the Local Authority can require up to three months’ notice. Utility works will always be prioritised, so confirmed dates for orders can on rare occasions be pushed back. Out of hours works may be required. On some narrow roads a full road closure might be needed: this can cause delays.  

Duct Footway/Carriageway – If ducting is required on a path or track for pedestrians or under a road, Traffic Management (TM) may be needed.  

Fit & Test (F&T) – Engineers attend site and the serving exchange to carry out a full end-to-end test of the circuit. Engineers install the Network Terminating Equipment (NTE, usually referred to as ‘ADVA’) at the customer site and terminate the tail end of the fibre in to this equipment. The managed router will also terminate in to the ADVA.  

Ethernet Single Visit (ESV) – Engineers install the fibre, NTE (ADVA) and perform the Fit & Test in one single visit. 

Pole Installation – A new telegraph pole may be needed to feed overhead cables. This is uncommon and usually only required when there are issues providing the fibre underground.  

Blown Fibre – Fibre is blown through a ducting pipe from the nearest source of fibre through the customer site lead-in.  

Internal Fibre Jointing – Engineers complete the internal fibre work by pulling the fibre into the premises to the termination point. 

 

Abbreviation Glossary 

KCI – Keep Customer Informed 

KCI1 – Order Acknowledged 

SS – Site Survey 

KCI2 – Site Survey Results 

ECC’S – Excess Construction Charges 

KCI3 – Confirms CDD 

CDD – Customer Delivery Date (Never guaranteed) 

ECD – Estimated Completion Date (Used for individual tasks) 

TRT – Test Rod & Tube 

PTW– Permission To Work 

PTD– Permission To Dig 

TM– Traffic Management 

LA – Local Authority 

IFP – Internal Fibre Provision 

F&T – Fit & Test 

ADVA – Providers of NTE 

SECTION 58 – Request to dig up a road/path that has recently been disturbed can cause lengthy delays as they may not be able to disturb the road again for a set time e.g. 2 years 

A55 – Design plan for work to be carried out to remove an obstruction or issue. Primarily for blockage clearance or traffic management 

SSRAMS – Site Specific, Risk Assessment And Method Statement 

OOH – Out Of Hours Work 

HA – Highways Authority 

DAN TEAM – (Dig Auxiliary Network Control) will use the A55 document to produce an estimate for the contractor to complete the work 

PTO – Precision Test Officer – Tests fibre tails to ensure no breaks/faults 

NTE – Network Terminating Equipment (usually referred to as an ADVA) 

 

FAQs 

Which suppliers do Blackstar work with? 

Blackstar work with all the key players in the market, primarily BT, Virgin Media, VodafoneCityfibre and TalkTalk. The supplier selected to provide your line will be the best choice based on your location. Different suppliers have different levels of ‘presence’ in different areas, so pricing and availability of ethernet services vary widely depending on location. 

Who installs the line into our premises? 

Regardless of the supplier selected for your line, it’s usually Openreach or one of their partner companies that carry out the physical work. 

When will I get my survey results? 

Following a successful survey the results will be reviewed by the planning team and sent through to us within 5-10 days from the survey date. We will share them with you as soon as they are received. At this point any ECCs will be confirmed to you for your approval.  

When will the circuit be live? 

Suppliers do not commit to an overall delivery date due to potential delays with duct issues, third party permissions and/or traffic management. Once they are happy with progression, they will then be in a position to provide the estimated delivery date and as soon as we receive it we will share it with you. 

We already have a circuit in the building, why do you have to do external works? 

During the site survey the engineer may find that the ducting/tubing/cabling is already used up by another circuit in the area, anywhere from the exchange to the premises that share the same route point. This may mean external work is required. 

Why is the Traffic Management date booked so far in advance? 

Our supplier will need to work with local authorities/councils to carry out any physical work as it may involve road closure or bus stop and parking bay suspension. This is referred to as ‘noticing’ because they require permission from the local authority before proceeding. The time frame for these approvals varies regionally and it can be up to three months before any work can commence. 

We’ve just received an update of a new delay. Why wasn’t the issue found during the survey? 

During a site survey the engineers will generally walk part/all of the distance from the exchange to the premises to ascertain what route this will take. Engineers base reports on infrastructure records and above ground site surveys. Unfortunately, damaged or blocked ducting or tubing can only be identified when work has started. This can occasionally lead to unforeseen delays. 

An engineer has installed the fibre. Is the circuit now live? 

Not quite: 

  1. If the engineer installed the Network Terminating Equipment (NTE) during the visitthe order willthen be passed to the Fit & Test team who will carry out commissioning testing remotely from the exchange. Once testing has been completed they will then hand the circuit over to our managed network provider. 
  2. If the engineer did not install the NTE (not a requirement on the first visit) this will require a further visit to the premises for a Fit & Test appointment. They will carry out the commissioning tests and hand over the circuit to the managed network provider. Once our managed network provider receives handover from the supplier, they will complete their network testing and hand over the circuit to Blackstar, who in turn will hand over the circuit to you. 

When does the billing commence? 

Once we hand the circuit over to you the billing will commence as the circuit will now be live and usable.  

What happens if there is a fault when the circuit has been handed over? 

You’ll need to ensure it is tested within 5 days of the circuit going live. Any issues reported after this date will be treated as a fault and will take longer to resolve. Once your order journey is complete Blackstar have a dedicated support team who will be able to provide assistance in the event of a fault. You will receive our support team’s contact details upon handover of your circuit.  

Why does it take so long? 

It can be incredibly frustrating, particularly if one of the reasons behind the order is to resolve slow broadband issues. Normal broadband can be provisioned so quickly because it is delivered over fibre or copper that in most cases has already been installed to your premises. Your dedicated ethernet service is a direct connection over a solid fibre optic cable that runs directly from your premises, back to the nearest exchange. To get that cable in place, involves a lot of planning, liaison and agreement between a host of companies, including utility companies, local councils, civil engineering contractors, plus the owners of various ducts or access points along the cable route, as well as your landlord and any other interested parties. Once all of the above is taken into account it becomes where the time is taken up.