Openreach CEO praises staff and network investments as BT tries to fend off calls for Ofcom to make the open access division independent
BT says customer service within its Openreach division is the best it has been since records began, with the time it takes to get an appointment coming from 11 days to 7 days and the number of missed appointments falling by a third in three months to five percent.
Openreach is responsible for the repair and installation of more than 30 million lines in the UK, which are used by BT retail and other communication providers such as TalkTalk and Sky to provide broadband and telephone services.
However third parties have criticised Openreach’s record and believe it would perform better if it was separated from BT as it would have less incentive to discriminate against other providers.
BT refutes this, arguing it meets all of Ofcom’s minimum requirements, and has promised to improve its level of service. Ofcom stopped short of separating Openreach from BT in its once-in-a-decade review, but has not ruled it out in the future if changes aren’t made.
Openreach has hired 5,000 new engineers over the past three years and is diversifying the training of its other staff so it is less dependent on specialists. It is also spending 50 percent more on proactive network maintenance to reduce the 175,000 separate jobs its engineers perform each week.
“Improving the service that we provide to customers, is my number one priority,” said Clive Selley, Openreach CEO. “These latest figures show we’re making real progress and we’re well on the way to hitting my target of halving missed appointments to two and a half percent within a year.
“Everyone at Openreach recognises there’s more to do, but these are encouraging signs that our investments and focus are having a positive effect.
“We’re recruiting 1,000 engineers this year, and by simplifying the way we work and giving our people the training and tools they need, we will achieve even better outcomes. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve managed to repair faults faster than this time last year, despite the wettest June on record.”
Customer service enhancements are just one pillar of BT’s network improvement strategy. It also plans to bring ‘ultrafast’ broadband of 300Mbps and above to the majority of the UK within a decade and expand coverage of superfast as far as possible.
But even still, BT’s opponents still consider Openreach independence to be the best course of action and have detailed their vision of how this might work.
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