BT has announced that it is speeding up its deployment of full-fibre broadband to five million more households than previously intended in a move that could generate up to 7,000 new jobs.
BT’s Boss Philip Jansen informed the BBC that BT is also aiming to complete its rollout of fibre broadband before the planned deadline, with 25 million homes now due to be connected by 2026.
“It’s a massive programme – a £15bn investment,” he said.
The telecoms giant has been criticised for the pace of full-fibre rollout.
BT said the recent tax changes announced on fibre broadband investment to homes and businesses allowed it to accelerate its approach.
Mr Jansen added that the faster rollout could be done through joint projects with other organisations to share the work and investment with its Openreach operation, particularly to speed up broadband availability to people in rural regions.
Several European telecoms competitors and private equity investors are believed to have looked at trying to obtain a piece of the UK’s fast-growing broadband infrastructure.
Accelerating the plans “will help fuel UK economic recovery, with better connectivity and up to 7,000 new jobs”, Mr Jansen said.
Several big companies utilise the Openreach network to deliver their services, including TalkTalk and Sky, but have been critical of the speed of the rollout and costs.
TalkTalk welcomed Thursday’s news, but said that affordability and take-up of services was essential. “Whilst this [BT] commitment is great progress, it shouldn’t hide the fact that the UK lags far behind other European nations in rolling out full fibre,” a TalkTalk spokesperson said.
BT news came as Britain’s largest broadband and mobile supplier reported a 23% fall in full-year pre-tax profit to £1.8bn, in large part due to a 7% fall in revenue to £21.3bn.
BT’s profits were down as they rewarded their frontline staff with a bonus, increased cost of services and the continuing investment in the fibre network.
But Mr Jansen said he was confident about future trading: “After a number of years of tough work, and as we look to build back better from the pandemic, we’re now pivoting to consistent and predictable growth.”
Welcomed new for shareholders, BT announced it planned to bring back its dividend, which was suspended due to Covid, throughout the current financial year.
Learn more about the BT fibre rollout.