BT plots massive Openreach outsourcing deal
Engineers could face open exit
Exclusive BT is secretly considering outsourcing the operation of its heavily regulated and unionised network access division Openreach, sources have told The Register.
Major outsourcers are currently preparing bids for what would be a multi-billion pound contract. It's understood that EDS and Alcatel-Lucent are among the contenders.
Asked to comment on the alleged plans, BT said: "Openreach continually reviews all aspects of its cost base, operational efficiency and customer service. At any one time we may have a number of programmes in operation or under consideration with outside agencies, many of whom currently partner with us on a wide range of operational activities."
Regarding the alleged involvement of Alcatel-Lucent and EDS, it said: "We do not comment on rumour or speculation."
Openreach was established after Ofcom's strategic telecoms review in 2005. BT must abide by an agreed set of undertakings to give rival ISPs and telcos equal access to exchanges and the "last mile" of the national network.
According to BT's latest annual report (pdf), Openreach has 25,000 engineers, who would probably be offered significantly less generous benefits under an outsourcing deal, according to industry sources.
The Communications Workers Union, which represents BT technicians, said it was not aware of the plans.
It also employs 1,100 customer service staff.
An Ofcom spokeswoman said there were no barriers to stop BT from employing another company to run Openreach's operations, assuming the regulatory undertakings are kept to.
Alcatel-Lucent and EDS did not immediately return calls and emails requesting comment.
Openreach's last reported revenues, for the three months to June 30 this year, were £1.3bn. Most of those sales come from other BT divisions - external revenues from local loop unbundlers were £234m. BT is currently in talks with regulators to raise the price caps imposed on Openreach. ®
To be fair nearly all Openreach engineers are highly skilled, conscientious and try hard on a daily basis to satisfy customers. Trouble is the continuous bullying environment they exist in prevents them from doing this.
This is recognised totally within the engineering communities where staff have to hit stats that prevent them doing their job properly. For instance failure to raise sufficient charges means a failed stat which results in the engineer being disciplined.
Openreach need to direct their attention to changing this stats based culture which is at conflict with giving decent customer service
I notice a lot of comments here are anti BT and justly so and this comes from an engineer with over thirty years experience with the company who has had to watch how greed has ruined what was a decent business to work for.
You have to wonder about the wisdom of Birmingham, Sandwell and Liverpool outsourcing the management of their IT to BT, that's the same BT that's outsourcing its own workforce to someone else.
Anyone for a game of musical chairs, or perhaps pass the parcel, in which we try to cover our own managerial incompetence by passing on our existing staff in order to go and mismanage someone else's.
Former CO of Lucent technologies?
Swings and roundabouts.