Liv Garfield the current CEO of Openreach has seen the availability of fibre based services (mainly FTTC) increase from 4 million premises in April 2011 when she joined Openreach, to 17 million in just thirty months and take-up has risen from 2.5% to 11.7%.
"I am immensely proud of the thousands of Openreach engineers who serve cities, towns, villages and hamlets across the UK. These dedicated men and women work in challenging conditions underground and up telegraph poles - often battling extreme weather – to keep the UK’s critical communications network up and running.
BT has been a terrific employer, giving me lots of room to grow and develop my business skills. It has been a tough decision but I leave Openreach in fantastic shape and have every confidence it will continue to thrive."Liv Garfield, Openreach CEO on leaving
Liv will step down in Spring 2014 which is coincidentally when the purely commercially funded fibre based broadband roll-out should complete and her position as CEO of Severn Trent will be a move from one ducted company to another, except that one of them enjoys carrying lots of water in its pipes.
We know there will be those critical of Openreach for its focus on FTTC based services, but in a cold commercial world with little sign of any other operator deploying FTTH on a national scale with wholesale access Openreach back in 2009 was able to start the ball rolling on the FTTC roll-out, rather than what ultimately may be more future proof but more of a gamble in the short term. One reality of FTTH roll-outs is that we do not see how it could have being pushed past 17 million homes in four years, and the £2.5 billion would probably have only provided coverage for around 3 million premises. It is often ignored, but the FTTC network sits on top of infrastructure that brings GPON within 1km of 90% of UK premises, which is why the Fibre on Demand product is possible and while G.fast is the talk of the moment if FTTH advocates show demand and take-up in areas where FTTH is available it may sway the accountants.
Openreach since it was created in 2006 has suffered from the number of engineering staff available, if there was any one challenge for a new incoming CEO it would be how to take on more staff without increasing the costs of its services. Once the move to self-install FTTC (no need for an engineer to visit the home) becomes official this may relieve some of the pressure and free staff for fault handling.