News : BT to Hire 1,600 Staff Amid Internet Connections Criticism
#contactcenterworld, @BT, @Ofcom
May 19, 2014 -- BT is to create 1,600 engineering jobs amid moves to improve customer service and install lines and fix faults more quickly.
BT is hiring 1,600 engineers amid criticism from regulators over the speed at which new internet connections are installed and faults are repaired.
The telecoms company, whose network is also relied on by dozens of other broadband providers including Sky and TalkTalk, has been rapped by watchdogs for leaving customers stranded without web access for too long.
Watchdog Ofcom will on Tuesday publish its final decision on tough new sanctions designed to ensure BT repairs faults within two working days and installs new lines within 12 working days.
"One customer being out of service for too long is one too many," said Joe Garner, chief executive of Openreach, which builds and maintains BT's network. "Millions of customers depend on broadband and they rely on us to keep them connected, whatever the weather." Garner said the new recruits would be a "welcome boost" to an engineering workforce that completes hundreds of thousands of jobs – such as installing fibre optic lines – each week.
Garner promised that by the summer, BT would publish regular information on its service performance. The only information available to the public, on the website of the Office of the Telecoms Adjudicator, is often difficult to understand.Garner has promised to be better at maintaining Openreach's vast network, which reaches almost all of the UK's 28 million premises, for example by rewiring ageing telegraph poles before faults occur.
However, he said Openreach will not be setting up a call centre to deal with customer complaints. Those with a broadband problem will have to deal with whoever bills them for broadband, whether that be BT's own retail arm or another company.
Openreach employs more people than the Navy, with 31,600 staff. As the company has been ramping up the roll out of its fibre-optic network, numbers have grown by 1,200 in the last year. Many recruits will be drawn from the armed forces, with Garner emphasising there will be jobs for wounded personnel. He also wants more female engineers – less than 10% of Openreach staff are women. "There's no reason why that can't change," said Garner. We'll be a better organisation if we better reflect the society we are part of, why would we not be fishing in half the labour pool?
BT's service has in the past been hampered by bad weather, particularly when rain floods its ducts and manholes. During 2012, the wettest year on record, the time it took to install the some fibre lines fell to 18 days on average. During 2011, repairs slowed to an average of six days.
Installations have picked up and are now within target, but TalkTalk says a third of faults reported by its customers are not fixed on time. Ofcom is expected to propose that by the financial year beginning April 2016, targets will have to be met 80% of the time. If they are not, BT could be fined.
An Ofcom spokesperson said: "We have been concerned about how long Openreach is taking to complete both repairs and installations. That is why we have proposed new targets which Openreach must meet in future, or else face the possibility of fines."
Reader complaints to the Guardian have highlighted that newly build properties can take up to six months to connect. Garner said he was recruiting managers to ensure better communications with developers, so that BT worked more in tandem with building projects.
"Newbuilds is a hotspot," admitted Garner. "We are putting a lot of focus on it its going to take us a bit longer to get on top of that. What I put top of the list is making sure if someone is out of service they are back in service quickly."
#contactcenterworld, @BT, @Ofcom
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Today's Tip of the Day - Be Flexible And Generous
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BT is provider of communications services and solutions for everybody in the UK and for corporate customers in the rest of Europe, with global reach through partnerships. BT provides services for all UK customers, network services and solutions for communication companies, worldwide business solutions, internet services, and advanced research and technology.
Ofcom is the UK's communications regulator.
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