May 4, 2019

New BT chief seeks to make his mark with push into fibre

Philip Jansen will kick-start his tenure as BT chief executive this week by adopting a bolder approach to fibre investment as part of a plan to return the British telecoms group back to growth. Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, BT's networking arm, has presented a plan to the group's board in recent weeks to pave the way for more fibre investment to replace ageing copper lines and offer speeds of up to 1Gbps. Openreach operates independently of BT and sets its own agenda but its budget is still signed off by the BT board. Redburn, the research company, expected Mr Jansen to raise the group's full fibre target to 3.5m homes by 2020, from 3m, and push its longer term goal towards 15m by the middle of next decade, from 10m. A further push into this area will redress some concerns from investors that a number of smaller providers, backed by huge infrastructure funds, could overtake BT in the race to full fibre. Last month Noel McClean, national secretary of the Prospect Union, which represents BT's managers, accused the new chief executive of "Not bringing his staff along with him in his future vision for BT". Mr Jansen has become impatient in his attempts to shake up its internal processes, according to multiple people working within the company.

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