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BT Openreach CEO Joe Garner To Leave In 2016

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Openreach chief to depart after two years in charge of BT network division

Joe Garner is to step down as CEO of BT Openreach in the spring and will become chief executive of Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society.

The former HSBC executive replaced Liv Garfield in January 2014, with BT attracted to Garner’s reputation for improving customer service and working in the highly regulated banking sector.

Indeed, BT has praised Garner’s tenure, noting that Openreach now meets or exceeds all 60 customer service target set by Ofcom and that the division’s fibre network now reaches 24 million properties – up from 18 million when he joined.

Openreach CEO

BT Openreach CEO Joe GarnerThe future of Openreach is one of the subjects of Ofcom’s once-in-a-decade review of the communications market, with BT’s rivals keen to see the unit made an entirely separate company.

Garner has spent much time fending off accusations that the current structure hands BT an unfair advantage and stifles investment, and he used his parting words to lend his support for the status quo.

“I would like to thank the thousands of dedicated Openreach engineers who work so hard in the most challenging of conditions to keep millions of homes and businesses connected,” he said. “They are the unsung heroes of the nation’s internet infrastructure.

“In my view, it is BT’s investment that has helped the UK to become one of the strongest digital economies in the world and I am proud to have contributed. Openreach is now poised to take the UK from a superfast to an ultrafast nation and I am confident it can achieve this as part of the BT family. I wish my successor at Openreach and everyone there and at BT all the best for the future.”

Garner added he enjoyed his time at Openreach but the opportunity to join Nationwide was too good to turn down. No firm date beyond the ‘Spring 2016’ window has been confirmed for his departure and a successor has yet to be named.

Should Ofcom not split up BT and Openreach, there are plans in place to rollout ‘ultrafast broadband’ using G.Fast and fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology, expand fibre coverage and BT has also said it is willing to make 10Mbps speeds available to everyone in the UK.

“I am sad to see Joe leave but he is moving to a terrific job and I wish him well,” said Gavin Patterson, BT CEO. “Openreach is a stronger and more customer focused business as a result of his leadership and he leaves it in good shape as we begin our ultrafast journey.”

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