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Openreach cedes UK installation work to BT and Sky

BT new HQ May 2022.jpg

Openreach, the last-mile fibre and copper operator in the UK, is allowing some service providers to take over its installation role.

The move emerged at a briefing at BT’s new headquarters, when Rob Shuter, CEO of enterprise at the company, said that his unit’s own engineers were taking over the whole of certain installation work for business customers, including what was done until now by Openreach staff.

Until now the job has been split between Openreach staff, who have installed the outside line up to the termination point in the customer premises, with a service provider’s staff handling the customer installation.

“We want our engineers to walk out when it’s working,” Shuter told a briefing about BT’s new business offering.

He later told Capacity that “one guy will be doing the Openreach and the BT job. It means one guy and one visit.”

This is a significant change in who does what in the UK telecoms market since Openreach was created in 2006. It is now a company wholly owned by BT, but separately managed with the role of working with all service providers equally.

Capacity’s sources at Openreach could not immediately confirm the BT information, but indicated that Openreach was also trying something similar with Sky, the Comcast-owned satellite operator that offers internet services in the UK.

“It’s called co-provisioning,” said a source. It means the service provider in question, which takes the last-mile connectivity from Openreach, “is a customer that is also a contractor”.

This person added: “It does help us. We get on with the other bits that need attending to.”

In an official statement, Openreach said the service provider would be a contractor into Openreach to provide fibre-to-the-premises installations in the customer premises serviced by them.

“Openreach has ultimate responsibility of its network and therefore carries all liability if regulated service level agreements (SLAs) agreed with communications provider customers are not met.”

The company added: “Openreach is not relinquishing any accountability for its service level agreements.”

Other service providers are “have been supportive of the proposals and would have the option to follow the same process”. But it looks as though the change is limited to business installations.

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