BT to Invest Billions More into Fibre, 4G and Customer ServiceCharles Wood
BT’s has today announced that its Openreach and EE businesses will spend around six billion pounds between them over the next three years, in the first phase of a plan to extend superfast broadband and 4G coverage beyond 95% of the UK by 2020.
The announcement focuses on services, coverage and capacity with the latter receiving the most press coverage. As well as confirming their ambition of supplying 12 million premises with ultrafast broadband, BT announced that at least two million of those to be connected with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.
BT had previously not committed to large scale FTTP deployment, favouring a fibre on demand approach. It is clear that this is in part a response to Virgin Media’s announcement last week and the strategic focus that Ofcom placed on FTTP connections in the initial conclusions to the Digital Communications Review (DCR).
The announcement covers:
A range of new BT Consumer initiatives set out to reduce the standard time to fix line faults by 24 hours, as well as handle 90 per cent of customers’ calls in the UK by March 2017. Openreach is aiming to halve missed appointments to two and a half per cent within a year, and will hire 1,000 new engineers this year. This is in line with Ofcom’s tough new standards set on quality within the DCR.
Openreach aim to take UK superfast broadband coverage beyond 95 per cent of UK premises and, should there be regulatory support for its plans, is ready to address slow speeds in the final few per cent of the country. BT clearly feels that Long Reach VDSL technology can be part of the solution in these hard to reach areas. This may have a substantial impact on the Universal Service Obligation discussions currently taking place between industry, Ofcom and Government.
EE will also extend the geographic coverage of its 4G network, from around 60% today to 95% by 2020. This is being driven in part by the operator securing the Emergency Services Network contract to deliver the next generation communication system for the UK’s emergency services.
Whilst the majority of the twelve million premises due to receive ultrafast broadband coverage by 2020 will be covered by G.Fast technology, BT said that FTTP is expected to be deployed to hundreds of thousands of SMEs as well as to consumers in new property developments.