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[May 18, 2014]
Lined up BT recruits more engineers
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) 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 tomorrow publish its decision on tough sanctions 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. 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.
However, he said Openreach would not be setting up a call centre to deal with customer complaints. Those with a broadband problem would 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 rollout of its fibre-optic network, numbers have grown by 1,200 in the last year. Many recruits will be drawn from the armed forces. He also wants more female engineers - less than 10% of Openreach staff are women. Juliette Garside Photograph: Denise Barnes (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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