BT Openreach CEO Liv Garfield Leaves For Severn Trent

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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Garfield will leave in the spring after overseeing BT fibre deployment

Liv Garfield will leave her position as BT Openreach CEO next Spring after 12 years with the former state monopoly to become the chief executive of FTSE 100 water company Severn Trent.

Since she assumed her current role in April 2011, Garfield has overseen BT’s £2.5 billion commercial rollout of fibre as well as the company’s involvement with the state-funded Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

Only last week, Garfield spoke of how “frustrating” it was to have to deal with the constant criticism of BDUK, given that in her view, the project was going well. BT says a successor for Garfield will be named “in due course.”

Liv Garfield

BT Openreach CEO Liv Garfield 2“It is a huge wrench to leave Openreach but I feel the time is now right to take on a fresh challenge,” she said. “Our commercial programme to bring fibre broadband to two thirds of UK premises is almost complete, whilst BT’s public sector broadband partnerships are making good progress.

“I am immensely proud of the thousands of Openreach engineers who serve cities, towns, villages and hamlets across the UK. These dedicated men and women work in challenging conditions underground and up telegraph poles – often battling extreme weather – to keep the UK’s critical communications network up and running.”

During her tenure, the number of people who can access the Openreach fibre network has risen from 4 million to 17 million, while the number of customers using superfast broadband has increased from 100,000 to more than two million.

No successor named

The number of unbundled copper lines has also increased from 7.6 million to 9 million. Unbundled lines are copper telephone lines owned by BT, but used by other telecoms providers to offer broadband and other services.

BT has been required to open its copper circuits up to rival providers at a fair price for some years, and Ofcom says this has promoted competition and resulted in lower Internet bills for consumers.

BT CEO Gavin Patterson has praised Garfield’s achievements and says she’ll be greatly missed.

“Ours is one of the fastest fibre broadband deployments anywhere in the world and the UK now leads our major European counterparts in terms of superfast broadband speed and availability,” he said. “That is a fantastic achievement. Liv, her management team and Openreach’s hard working engineers should be incredibly proud.

“We wish Liv every success in her new role.”

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