Openreach CEO: Now Is The Time To Go From Superfast To Ultrafast Broadband

Openreach CEO Clive Selley says his engineering background will influence his tenure as BT starts its rollout of G.Fast and FTTP ultrafast broadband

As part of the contracts signed with the government-funded Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative, BT must refund money in areas where the anticipated adoption rates exceed those laid out by the company’s original business plan. This does not have to be invested back into broadband provision, but can be used to reach areas not included in the original project.

“We think gain share money is totting up. We think there’s enough to pay for an extra one percent – if we get all the money back,” suggests Selley, who also voices his support for the 10Mbps universal service obligation (USO) proposed by government, suggesting long range VDSL and satellite could be the answer.

Service commitment

Service is another area he has committed to improving. One of the biggest problems Openreach’s communication providers have with the current structure is the time it takes for it to connect new lines and repair faults.

cable fibre“Raising service levels is absolutely key for Openreach,” he says. “[Ofcom gives] minimum service levels (MSLs) and each year they raise it. We are ‘green’ on every MSL and I regard those as minimum and I have added targets of my own.

“In order to raise service standards, I need to increase my field force. I need as many feet on the street in as many parts of the UK. We could become more agile for our customers if our engineers were more skilled in more job types.”

And what about the network records that Ofcom wants Openreach to have so third parties can gain access to its ducts and poles so they can lay their own cables? Are they are as accurate as they could be?

“Our network records are far from perfect,” he admits. “It’s far from surprising, [some ducts and poles] have been there for decades so we do not have the youngest passive infrastructure. In London, because of all the building work, we have more cracked ducks than someone like Portugal Telecom. The longer you have an asset in the ground, the longer it takes for something to change.”

Openreach future

Ofcom’s initial recommendations did not advise the separation of Openreach but did outline concerns about a lack of independence. The aforementioned ducts and poles proposal was just one of the recommendations its report made, but the overall tone suggested that unless reforms were made to Openreach’s governance, formal separation could take place.

Negotiations have been ongoing between BT and Ofcom in a bid to find a solution that suits all parties, but Selley says it is not his place to comment as the regulator would publish its findings in the near future.

“It’s an Ofcom-led thing,” he claims. “We’ve been invited for our inputs.”

What do you know about fibre broadband? Try our quiz!