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Openreach to get new boss

BT today announced that Liv Garfield is to step down as CEO of Openreach during Spring next year. Garfield has decided to take up a new challenge as CEO of Severn Trent, the FTSE 100 water company.

As CEO of Openreach – BT’s local access network division – Garfield has overseen BT’s £2.5bn commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, which is transforming the lives of households and businesses across the country. She played a pivotal role in building the business case for BT’s commercial fibre investment in her previous role as BT’s Group Strategy Director.

Garfield said: “It is a huge wrench to leave Openreach but I feel the time is now right to take on a fresh challenge. Our commercial programme to bring fibre broadband to two thirds of UK premises is almost complete, whilst BT’s public sector broadband partnerships are making good progress.

“I am immensely proud of the thousands of Openreach engineers who serve cities, towns, villages and hamlets across the UK. These dedicated men and women work in challenging conditions underground and up telegraph poles – often battling extreme weather – to keep the UK’s critical communications network up and running.

“BT has been a terrific employer, giving me lots of room to grow and develop my business skills. It has been a tough decision but I leave Openreach in fantastic shape and have every confidence it will continue to thrive.”

Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT Group said: “Liv has made an enormous contribution to BT over the past 12 years and she’ll be greatly missed. With her leadership, we have taken the company’s commercial fibre roll-out from conception through to delivery.

“Ours is one of the fastest fibre broadband deployments anywhere in the world and the UK now leads our major European counterparts in terms of superfast broadband speed and availability. That is a fantastic achievement. Liv, her management team and Openreach’s hard working engineers should be incredibly proud.

“We wish Liv every success in her new role.”

BT says that since Garfield assumed the Openreach position in April 2011, the availability of fibre over BT’s network has risen from around 4m premises to more than 17m. Meanwhile, the number of customers adopting fibre has increased steadily from just over 100k in April 2011 to more than 2m subscribers today.

The company adds that during Garfield’s tenure Local Loop Unbundling – where other operators effectively rent a copper line from Openreach – has also gone from strength to strength. In April 2011 the number of unbundled lines in the UK stood at 7.6m. That number has grown to around 9m today. This demonstrates plenty of healthy competition in the UK phone and broadband market as a result of the Openreach model.

Garfield’s successor will be announced by BT in due course.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine

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