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Read my lips - No price cuts
Wednesday 11 September 2002 10:07:00 by Andrew Ferguson

That is almost a phrase you could expect Ben Verwaayen (BT CEO) to have used yesterday when meeting a cluster of journalists. Silicon.com has a batch of articles based around comments from the CEO on the matter of broadband.

Ben Verwaayen asserts that there are no plans for price cuts at this time and that he feels that the previous cuts are enough to bring the UK roughly in line with pricing elsewhere in Europe. He also attributes the jump in demand during early 2002 with the price cuts.

On the matter of BT Retail and BT Openworld competing with each other, and BT Retail swallowing BT Openworld, the CEO is happy for the two competing products to exist. They are compared to different models of cars by the same manufacturer. I doubt BT Openworld will ever get taken over, it may gradually shrink its consumer arm until it just pulls out of that sector. Then it will concentrate on the more lucrative business packages. I believe we have seen this start with the change of the business email addressing for customers from btclick.com to btopenworld.com.

Customer service is the focus of another of their articles, nothing special other than BT needs to look at the 10% of very vocal complainers to understand what their problems are.

Finally, on the topic of which 33% of the country is interested in - Broadband Rollout. The CEO confirms the companies obligation is to the shareholders and they are not in the market place to provide unprofitable services to some parts of the country. This stance is easier to understand once you remember that as the current CEO isn't tainted by the old cosy feel of the GPO, and that the universal service obligations only apply for voice traffic meaning BT are under no pressure from Oftel. Ofcom is still a long way of in 2004.

I feel it is dissappointing that more was not said on the future of the rollout and the situation at places like Todmorden and the exchanges close behind it on the trackers. An opportunity for positive statements rather than journalistic sparring was perhaps missed - maybe another news site will have more on the current rollout situation.

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