Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Openreach/ Scotland

Tue 10 Jan 2006
Reaching out openly to all corners of Scotland

Last updated: 10-Jan-06 12:37 GMT

IT MAY not be fully appreciated just to what extent Scotland's urban and rural economies alike are set to benefit from a newly-created local telecoms network.

It will involve three million customer lines from 1070 local exchanges, and 30 million telephone calls every day.

Around 2200 people in Scotland will be employed - mostly engineers who, during their working day, will collectively climb around 36,500 telegraph poles in a year, the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis 128 times.

Also on a daily basis they will visit 900 businesses and homes in Scotland to help install new lines, make necessary repairs and upgrade services. More than 1800 vans will cover 100,000 miles between them each day.

And what's it all for?

To ensure that everyone has equal access to the network, with my team responsible for ensuring that millions of Scots and the rest of UK businesses and homes have access to the wider world, and to faster and more exciting services in the future.

It follows Ofcom's strategic review of communications, and now that we have the green light to launch Openreach we are getting down to delivering a business that everyone can be proud of.

Openreach is a brand new business, and through providing access network services and products for the UK communications industry, will deliver innovative and competitively priced services to, in total, 60 million people living and working in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Its name was chosen as a symbol of the way it will operate, delivering ubiquitous services on an even and open-handed basis, to any and all communications providers including BT's own downstream divisions.

To ensure transparency, I report directly to BT's CEO Ben Verwaayen, and our progress and performance - against a series of legally enforceable undertakings - will be monitored by an independent Equality of Access Board.

We will demonstrate our complete commitment towards conducting business with all communications providers equally, in accordance with our undertakings to Ofcom and the industry.

We will also support the whole of the UK fixed-line telecommunications industry in a fair, equal and transparent way, and also protect the interests of all communications providers.

On service we will strive not just to provide, maintain and repair the access infrastructure, but to continually improve both service and reliability.

Scotland is particularly close to my heart, as an Edinburgh lad with my education culminating in an MA from Edinburgh University, backed up by a MSc from the London School of Economics.

I'm really looking forward to making this new network happen as it contributes significantly towards the wellbeing of the Scottish economy.

• Steve Robertson is chief executive officer of Openreach

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