On occasion we may be required to book an Openreach Special Fault Investigation (also known as an SFI2 visit) when you are experiencing broadband/connectivity issues.
This will often be requested by Openreach when:
- The broadband service appears to work from the test socket
- The fault does not appear to be within the backhaul network (that is, between the exchange equipment and our systems)
- Tests on the copper line return an acceptable result (within Openreach's usual operating parameters)
- Openreach have done some investigations on the line and have found no apparent fault
Please note that this list is not intended to be exhaustive.
If a voice issue is being experienced even after a line test returns an OK (for example, you have a noisy line or an intermittent dial tone) then you should contact your line provider to book a voice fault, as this is a separate issue to a data fault and cannot be progressed by Gradwell (unless we also provide voice services to you).
What happens during an SFI?
Depending on the nature of your fault, there are two types of investigation that we can book:
- Frames direct variant
- End user variant
Frames direct variant
This is booked if a test on the line (also known as a line test) returns an OK result, but we believe the problem affecting the broadband service may exist at the exchange. An Openreach engineer will perform tests at the exchange equipment, including visual checks and tests with diagnostic equipment.
You will not be visited or contacted by the engineer.
End user variant
The end user variant involves a visit to your premises. There are several "modules" that we can authorise that Openreach undertake. Depending on the nature of the fault we may not authorise that Openreach perform all of these.
Base module (mandatory)
This test is always performed. The Openreach engineer will perform some diagnostics in your premises which are designed to resolve the problem or indicate where else the problem may lie.
If Openreach believe that an upgrade in the network between your premises and the exchange will improve service, they may undertake work such as renewing the drop wire (the line that enters your property) and changing stretches of the copper wire between your premises and the exchange.
A charge will be levied unless the engineer cannot demonstrate that service has been improved.
If the engineer cannot achieve sync from your master socket (that is, create a working broadband session) then they will visit the exchange and check the equipment there.
Internal wiring module
Usually Openreach only test up to the master socket within your property. Any extensions that you have in the property are not their responsibility. However, if this module is authorised and they have reason to believe that your internal wiring is causing issues they will examine it and attempt to identify the cause of the issue. They will also attempt to find if any electrical equipment within the local environment could be causing the issues.
End user equipment module
If the base module tests indicate that service should work from the master socket, and we have authorised this module, the engineer will check the router and the configuration of one computer.
What is the charge for an SFI?
Openreach will charge for all modules where work is undertaken. The charges (excluding VAT and correct as of February 2013) are:
- Frames Direct module: £117.82
- End user variant:
- Base module: £124.97
- Network module: £58.19
- Frame module: £41.03
- Internal wiring module: £28.93
- End user equipment module: £17.88
(Prices correct as of 25th July 2014 and are subject to change)
Where multiple modules are performed there will be multiple charges. Please note that the charges for the end user variant will always include the base module plus any other modules undertaken. The base module (and thus any other modules) will only not be charged if the line test that the Openreach engineer performs fails.
Please note that if Openreach are unable to gain access to the premises during the appointment slot a charge of £90 will be levied.
In all cases the costs of SFI2 charges will be passed on to you unless the fault lies within our equipment within the exchange.
Why should I pay the costs of fixing my service?
Whilst Gradwell appreciate that SFI2 charges are a contentious issue, Openreach's viewpoint is that the copper line itself is right when tested and performing within expectations (that is, it is delivering a working service to you based on their technical criteria as outlined in this document). Any improvements that they perform on your line when undertaking the modules above are outside their usual responsibility (as the line is operating within acceptable parameters), which is why they are chargeable.
Gradwell do not raise a charge where the fault lies within our equipment or any of our upstream supplier's equipment.
However, where a charge has been levied by Openreach due to an upgrade on any equipment or wiring that is not within our network we have no choice but to pass the charge on to you.
What is the timescale for an SFI?
We have to book an appointment for an SFI, and the length of time this takes will depend on a combination of engineer availability and the maintenance (care) level applied to your service.