Openreach CEO Clive Selley says a Brexit would harm end users, third party providers and BT, risking future broadband investment
The CEO of Openreach has backed an open letter signed by BT’s chairman and CEO urging staff to vote for the UK to remain a member of the EU at the referendum on Thursday (June 23), claiming a vote for Brexit would damage investment in the country’s broadband infrastructure.
Chairman Sir Michael Rake, CEO Gavin Patterson lent their support to the ‘remain’ cause, according to the BBC, while Communications Workers Union (CWU) deputy general secretary Andy Kerr and Prospect national secretary Ben Marshall also signed the letter.
Openreach chief Clive Selley, who replaced Joe Garner earlier this year, told journalists he held similar views as BT’s open access network division embarks on a major rollout of ultrafast broadband and a hiring spree.
Openreach EU remain
“I support the statement the chairman led with and I’ve got closer to the union since I’ve been here,” he said in response to a question from TechWeekEurope. “We are aligned in that we believe there will be an economic slowdown with a Brexit vote. That hits end customers, my communication provider (CP) customers and then me.”
“We would face lower business volumes and that’s not good for our people. I can’t be haring new engineers, training in staff, and investing serious money in equipment if I can’t be reasonably certain about the income streams.
“[Not if] Brexit, and all leading economists say this, leads to lower economic activity.”
Patterson was one of 34 leading UK tech figures to sign another open letter voicing support for the EU.
A recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) claimed UK telecoms providers would be negatively impacted if the country votes to leave the EU. The study predicts a recession would take place in 2017, affecting incomes and unemployment, and the amount businesses and consumers can spend on communications.
It adds that as a member of the EU, UK telecoms investment would rise by 29 percent between 2015 and 2020 compared to 23 percent in the event of a Brexit, while revenues would rise by 21 percent over the same period if ‘remain’ wins, while they would increase by just 12 percent if the ‘leave’ campaign is victorious.
Both figures would be compounded by higher unemployment and a six percent fall in GDP if the UK leaves the EU. Indeed, the report says the economy would not grow until 2020 and a politically disruptive period would also harm the industry as customers would have less money to spend on services.
BT’s rival Virgin Media has also come out in support of remain. A letter signed by CEO Tom Mockridge has urged staff to vote accordingly and parent company Liberty Global has donated £700,000 to the remain campaign.
TechWeekEurope readers have said they believe the UK is better off as a member of the EU, with just a third disagreeing with the sentiment.
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