BT denies claims of a shortage in engineers for broadband rollout

BT denies claims of a shortage in engineers for broadband rollout

An ex-BT executive and telco expert yesterday urged parliament to introduce a national apprenticeship

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An ex-BT executive and telecoms expert has told a parliamentary committee that BT is worried about its shortage of broadband engineers and said that a national apprenticeship scheme could boost broadband rollout speeds and aid rising unemployment rates. 

BT has committed to upgrading 1450 exchanges in the UK that will receive fibre and currently employs approximately 4,000 engineers to carry out the work.

However, Lorne Mitchell, who was providing evidence at a parliamentary committee investigating the UK’s superfast broadband rollout, suggested that BT is anxious that it does not have enough engineers available to it.  

“I know people in BT who are concerned about the capacity problem within BT to deliver [its exchange upgrade programme]. There aren’t enough people on the ground to face this problem,” said Mitchell. 

He provided an example that in Kent, the area where Mitchell lives and is working on a community project to deliver broadband to residents and businesses, where 80 percent of exchanges have no plan to be upgraded. 

Mitchell argued that the government has an opportunity to introduce an apprenticeship scheme that would not only aid the rollout of superfast broadband but get the unemployed back to work. 

“For every person that leaves university we need 10 people behind them to help deploy these networks. From what I gather we aren’t training enough engineers,” he said. 

“You need an apprenticeships scheme because there is an opportunity to get people back to work with this,” he added. 

“Maybe we should look at a National Infrastructure Access Plan, where the government calculates the number of engineers we need make this deployment work. There is an enormous amount of potential to help the economy with this.” 

BT has denied the claims put to the parliamentary committee and insists its fibre deployment is on track.

“There is no shortfall in the number of engineers needed to deliver our fibre programme and our deployment continues apace,” said a BT spokesperson. 

“In fact, we recently recruited around an additional 800 engineers from the armed forces to complement the existing 4,000 strong engineering force working on the project.”

The government has committed £780 million to support the rollout of superfast broadband in the UK, where I hopes to create the best network in Europe by 2015. 

However, last week ex-BT CTO, Peter Cochrane, slammed the government, claiming it had “no vision, no mission and no business plan” for delivering a 21st century infrastructure.  



  • Jeremy Hindley BT wont need new engineers for fibre because they arent doing fibre They are still using their old phone lines to get the service to the customer So they still need the old fashioned engineers to keep it all working Once a few thousand cabs get upgraded a days work to swap 200 circuits in most cabs the job is done Presto we have thousands of homes passed Literally And everyone passed is classed as having superfast It will be years before government realises its been had
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