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BT Brokenreach

BT Brokenreach

Openreach appears to have escaped being sold off by Ofcom – it now ‘only’ has to form a separate legal entity for the business and appoint an independent board. This will apparently enable it to deal with all its customers equally – Vodafone, Talk Talk, Sky, Voipfone (☺) as well as BT.

Well… ok. But the reason why this has been forced on BT is because Openreach is crap at doing what it’s supposed to do. The basics like fixing faults, installing lines and serving customers – ours and theirs. It owns all the lines to the customer and is pretty terrible at getting the simple day-to-day operational stuff right. This is not new, it’s been going on since BT was a Civil Service department called the GPO and pretty much every management fad has been tried since then. I personally live through many of them – Total Quality Management and Business Process Re-engineering being amongst my favourite wastes of time, money and effort.

ITSPA supported the separation of Openreach rather that a total break up and sale because it wouldn’t make any difference, take forever and be an expensive and difficult transaction that would allow BT to take its eye of the ball even more.

No, the underlying problem is that operations divisions are not sexy in BT. Nobody wants to run operations – they’re big, difficult, messy and involve lots of people. If you have personal corporate ambitions you want to be involved in strategy and finance, you don’t want to deal with customer complaints and manning issues at customer contact centres. If the board gets involved at all in these ‘details’ it’s to outsource its operations to third world countries and ‘drive costs out’.

Openreach even outsources installation and repairs, many of the people that come to your house to install your broadband are contractors. This allows headcount to be reduced. My recent personal experience of ‘BT’ installers has been truly awful. Terrible. Umpteen visits to install a line, missed appointments and cancellations, poor wiring, miserable engineers.

Ofcom are just moving the chairs around, but I suppose it makes them think they’re doing something.


dontpanicSadly there’s really only one topic of news at the moment and it’s not football.

Personally I’m in mourning and worried for many aspects of the UK’s future, but what does Brexit mean for Texit© – the telecoms industry’s own exit?

“Dunno” is the only possible answer.

Sure, everyone and his dog has an opinion but they have no more idea than my goldfish. And I don’t have a goldfish.

Since the result, I’ve been receiving ‘don’t panic’ emails from our various professional advisors. Some of the things I’m not supposed to panic about, I wasn’t even aware that I might be able to panic about.

For example the ‘Voipfone’ brand image is trademarked, so our intellectual property lawyers sent out a ‘don’t panic’ email about the European standing of trademarks. It turns out that the European Patent Office (EPO) is not a European Union institution; it’s subject to a separate treaty.

Those of us just trying to get on with connecting telephone calls tend to use the term ‘EU’ to mean anything and everything to do with dealing with Europe. So it’s going to take everyone a while to unpick those things that ARE about the EU and those that are not.

One possible thing to panic about is Europe’s action to remove roaming charges across member states, an action which has the affect of plummeting call bills.

The EU’s action on net neutrality was another ‘good thing’ for VoIP and the internet generally.

But there will be many others – a couple of which will be having only Ofcom and UK politicians to worry about. Is that supposed to be a good thing?

“Dunno”, but it seems very unlikely.

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