BT goes for broadband broke

The monster stirs

Blimey - what a week for BT. And it's only Tuesday.

Yesterday, the monster telco unveiled further plans about how it sees the future of broadband in the UK.

It teased us with sketchy details of a new, cheaper "no frills" broadband package that it claims will simply provide high-speed Net access without any services or content.

And it confirmed that it will restart its programme of enabling more exchanges for broadband and making ADSL more widely available. This is despite halting expansion plans last year, claiming then that any future investment was simply not commercially viable.

The announcements provided a good excuse for the telco to trot out its new mantra - namely that "broadband is at the heart of BT". How times change.

And there's more good news for punters. Ben Verwaayen, BT's chief exec, also gave the green light for every pissed-off BT punter to complain - and complain hard - about anything that stirs up the slightest niggle about the telco's operation.

For top of Ben's strategic review is a pledge that customer satisfaction is to become the "cornerstone" of his company's operation with the aim to be "the most customer focused and efficient communications company in the markets in which it operates".

So... if you get billed incorrectly for BT's broadband service - complain. Get an unhelpful telephone operator? Complain. Hacked off with BT's TV ads? Complain. Get held-up by a BT engineer's van on your way to drop off the kids at school. Complain. Get an engaged tone... you get the message.

BT also polished its crystal ball claiming how it would focus on its operating costs, which would see an improvement in cash flow and profit. That means it will continue to lose around 5,000 - 6,000 jobs a year - just as it's done for the last three or four years.

Still, it seems BT's new strategy will result in an "attractive new financial model" for the company based on a "balance between organic revenue growth and cash generation".

For those interested in headline numbers the telco says it hopes it can reduce its debt - which reached almost £30 billion - to below £10 billion.

The general feeling among BT watchers is that this review was "reassuring" rather than anything that could have set the market on fire.

Even Cable & Wireless' call for the Government to break-up BT failed to overshadow the telco's day.

The Sunday Times reported that C&W wants the Competition Commission to investigate BT in a bid to break-up the monster telco.

This latest call for the network and retail parts of BT to be split follows last week's outspoken attack by Freeserve in which it claimed that BT was running an "orchestrated campaign of anti-competitive behaviour".

Not surprisingly, BT has dismissed all the allegations against it.

So what's left? Well, tomorrow BT Retail is set to announce it new mobile strategy - less than six months after spinning off its own mobile division. Like I said, it's been a busy week for BT. ®

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