Key stories include: Technology reorg key to BT refresh | Indian ops under review | EE drives rural Scottish infill | Openreach NI ramps up | Challenger CityFibre fills its pockets

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Executive brief

BTwatch Report #328

BTwatch Report #328

GROUP: BT  Pension  Scheme sold off its residual shareholding in its asset manager, increasing Federated Hermes’ stake to just shy of 90%. The sale was the result of a call option written into Federated Hermes’ 2018 majority acquisition. [pp.68.]

Chief Procurement Officer Cyril  Pourrat opened the doors to Dublin’s BT  Sourced offices, which hosts the procurement function and Pourrat’s growing leadership team. In Birmingham, the Group’s regional hub Three  Snowhillwelcomed its first colleagues, becoming the first such site outside of London to launch. [pp.11,1318.]

TECHNOLOGY: Speaking to BTwatch, BT Technology Director of Human Resources Mark  Murphy lauded the multi-faceted Group transformation, which includes a physical and virtual makeover and a more inclusive approach to HR. A facilities facelift and internal reorganisation, alongside a new Technology structure and move to hybrid working practices, aim to pave the way for a collaboration-led digital era at the operator. [pp.1318.]

Murphy said transformation at home may be supported by reworked models further afield. BT is planning to strengthen its Indian IT services operation, which may mean a change for partnerships with external providers, the likes of Tata Consultancy Services and Tech Mahindra included. It would follow an industry-wide trend to reassess traditional outsourcing relationships, and chimes with BT Chief Digital & Innovation Officer Harmeen Mehta’s remit to modernise the Group. [pp.2021.]

CONSUMEREE remains the dominant force in the Scottish  4G Infill programme, having connected 17 sites, 15 more than its closest peer Vodafone UK. The S4GI goalposts appear to have settled at 55 sites by mid-2023, but there are signs that the project is being pushed down the priority list by the UK’s parallel, and larger-scale, Shared Rural Network scheme. [pp.2528.]

ENTERPRISEBT partnered Avanti West Coast to eliminate railway connectivity blackspots and provide onboard Wi-Fi along the rail operator’s Euston–Glasgow route. 200 LTE masts will be built along the route. [p.32.]

BT Media & Broadcast’s recently launched “smart” network Vena will broadcast English Premiership Rugby matches, making use of its higher bandwidth and lower latency. Vena was inaugurated in May 2021, and BT is now consulting with broadcasters to determine possible technology roadmaps. The network will be developed based on priorities learnt from the sporting industry, according to Head of Sales & Account Management Laura Tressler. [pp.3334.]

Simon Haston, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer for Regions and Devolved Government at BT Enterprise, underlined the Group’s aim to monetise its 5G developments. BT hopes to build 5G use-cases to “export globally, with one such example being the 5G-based digital twin in Scotland’s Forth Valley. [pp.3536.]

Forescout  Technologies strengthened its alliance with BT  Security as the operator leverages the IoT cyber-resilience specialist’s security platform for its enterprise customers. BT integrated Forescout’s asset and operational technology modules into its managed services product in an effort to combat customer security weaknesses. [pp.3940.]

OPENREACHOpenreach and Nokia conducted a 25G PONtechnology test and plan to launch a field trial before the end of 2021. Currently in a testing phase at BT’s Adastral Park, Nokia’s passive optical network technology targets fibre network extension for enterprise, residential, and 5G backhaul use. It may predicate challenges within Openreach’s FTTP vendor pool, with Nokia looking to 25G PON and ADTRAN and Huawei favouring 50G PON. [pp.4344.]

Openreach Northern Ireland ramped up recruitment and installed a new director to lead a bulked up fibre operation. Garret Kavanagh took the helm from the outgoing Mairead Meyer. The civil engineering department in the country, created in 2020, is undertaking a fresh recruitment round that will triple its headcount and aims to make use of a recently announced £130m investment programme which seeks to rollout ultrafast broadband to 700,000 premises by March 2022 [pp.810,4546.]

CityFibre raised a further £1.125bn in private equity and bank loans to fund its expanded fibre ambitions, which appear ever closer to encroaching on Openreach turf. The capital, which was in part raised by a minority divestiture, will enable CityFibre to engage in the government’s Project Gigabit rural infrastructure programme, said CEO Greg Mesch. [pp.5152.]

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