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Openreach boss admits broadband investment failings

When it comes to telecom companies, none feature as prominently in the news as BT. But after taking constant hits about its lack of broadband investment and alleged poor customer service, it seems BT is at least trying to get Openreach in order.
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In 2016 Brits were about ready to march to BT headquarters, pitchfork in hand. Even Ofcom and MPs called for the telecom giant to put its house in order or face the consequences. Openreach is making its first step into the ‘right’ direction by forming a board that will see to an increase in broadband investment.

Amid ongoing pressure from Ofcom to separate BT and Openreach, the latter announced the creation of its own board. The members will be tasked with pushing forward a new strategy, hoping to increase broadband investment and focus on service delivery.

Brendan Barber, the former head of TUC and chair of ACAS, is among the board’s members, alongside former National Grid board member Edward Astle. These new appointments, Openreach chairman Mike McTighe claimed, will help the UK’s leading digital infrastructure company meet the high expectations placed on it by customers.

He admitted: “Customers sometimes feel let down by Openreach because we haven’t always delivered the service they expect or that we aim to provide.”

Hoping to address the issue, broadband investment is high on the board’s list of priorities, with Openreach intent on reaching a better level of service, and aiming to expand its coverage and give faster broadband speeds to all. McTighe also suggested Openreach’s governance needed strengthening – for example, an Openreach board, audit, risk and compliance committee will soon be established.

“Be that as it may, we have made a lot of progress since Clive Selley joined as CEO a year ago – we halved the number of missed appointments, making our fibre network available to millions more people and accelerating our plan to introduce a new generation of ultrafast technology,” McTighe added.

“But we need to do more to re-build trust and credibility. This will be the board’s focus and we are currently in consultation with BT Group about agreeing the plan to deliver a better product for consumers and businesses across the country.

“We are determined to meet our customers’ expectations and to strengthen the autonomy, governance and transparency of Openreach to facilitate the delivery of better outcomes for everyone who has a stake in our business.”

Image: Shutterstock

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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