BT has published a document describing its vision for Britain's digital future. In the document it claims that it will do the following:
- tackle slow speeds in hard-to-reach parts of the country;
- achieve a step-change in speeds overall, with ultrafast rollout starting next year;
- improve customer service, through a number of commitments unveiled by Openreach.
However, to go forward, BT needs to win the collaborative effort across industry and government. With its vision on the table, and boasting of its progress so far, BT wants to get the UK government and Ofcom to support its quest – and not make it split off Openreach into an independent, separate company.
Rival ISPs like Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone want to see Openreach as a fully independent company. They say that BT's control of Openreach is holding back competition and the division provides poor service to them.
BT's vision statement hopes to sway things in its favour, so the Ofcom announcement, due at the end of the year, won't force an Openreach divorce upon it. Reminding readers of what it has achieved so far, BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson claimed that "For the past five years, the UK has been the largest digital economy in the G20, by percentage of GDP." Patterson sees a bright future ahead, with folk readily streaming 4K TV content and enjoying cloud computing thanks to BT's investments but concluded that the industry and government must back him, to make BT's multi-million plans commercially viable.
A breakdown of what BT pledges to do "to deliver Britain’s digital future," is as follows:
- Aim for a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10 Megabits per second (Mbps) for every home and business, subject to regulatory support
- Vast majority to get well ahead of minimum speeds - plan to extend fibre broadband coverage beyond government’s 95% of premises target
- From superfast to ultrafast: 10m premises to receive ultrafast broadband with speeds of 300-500Mbps by end of 2020. 1Gbps service also to be provided
- 'Never say no' – BT to build on its record of co-funding 90 community broadband schemes
- Openreach to increase on-time customer installations beyond Ofcom regulated levels in new Charter
- New 'View My Engineer' service from Openreach aims to improve customer experience by giving text progress updates and engineer's mobile phone number
- New report values BT pledges as worth £20 - £30bn contribution to UK economy
What do readers think about BT's vision? Should it be forced to split off Openreach?