back to article Openreach hiring thousands more engineers

BT's Openreach is to hire 3,500 trainee engineers in a bid to support its 'full-fibre' proposals for Britain. The former stated-owned telco monopoly claimed its "largest recruitment drive" comes off the back of its plan to connect three million premises to full fibre by 2020, up 50 per cent on its previous goal. That …

  1. Gti Jazz Blue

    I'd like them to just provide me with a working voice line. Reported a noisy line to SkyTalk - OR took 3 days and the fix was to give us no service at home and a busy tone for anyone that calls us - oddly Broadband is still working so must be an exchange fault as we aren't on FTTC and our BB is direct from the Sky kit in the Exchange.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Who uses a landline in this day and age?

      I stopped paying for one years ago. If it comes "for free", fine, but I never used it and so can safely put it on one of those "I never use it" rates, and it only ever rung for spam callers.

      Moved house recently, didn't even bother. The broadband rates were pathetic, I'm not going to pay for a landline, and 4G signal was perfect.

      Honestly, OR and BT together have done more to push new technology than anyone else - they pushed me towards 4G and SIP rather than touch their services. I scrapped 6 ISDN lines (and dozens of analogue lines) in work, pushed them to SIP. Cheaper, easier, more features, more reliable, greater capacity. Backhaul is via Virgin leased line, so BT literally lost ALL our custom there. At home, they lost all my custom by the simple precept of me buying a 4G Wifi dongle. I now pay Three less than it costs to run a BT monthly line on their cheapest package for phone + broadband, get faster speeds, more reliability, and the ability to change provider every month by simply buying a SIM card in a shop, if I so desire.

      If it really came to it, I'd buy a Skype number, or a SIP account for my mobile phone. I can't imagine ever using BT or OR again, voluntarily. How they think that will help their business, I can't work out. And it's not like I haven't given them many chances over the years. They're scrapping ISDN, but when they provide a SIP offering, do they honestly think they are going to be able to compete?

      1. Mike Scott 1

        Who uses a landline in this day and age? People that don't have a 'perfect' 4G signal as you are fortunate to do.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Boffin

          I’d also suggest that while 4G is all fine and dandy for browsing and streaming it’s a bit crappy for anything that needs a low latency connection (hello gaming) because it has a much higher ping than the equivalent wireline.

          IME my best 4G ping at home is around 30ms (100ms+ on 3G) whereas FTTC is usually around 8ms.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            I play CS:Go, and have done back to CS 1.6, when it was on WON prior to needing Steam, and run CS servers.

            30 ping is absolutely fine, you're not going to be able to distinguish (sorry, but your mouse->monitor refresh path has much greater latency than that).

            Literally, never noticed a latency issue via 4G.

            Bigger question: Do you game over Wifi? I guarantee you that your Wifi introduces bigger spikes than the 4G ever would. And also, do you QoS your gaming packets? I always did because just one person on Facebook sharing the connection with you while you game will make your ping spike.

            But 30ms is not a problem at all.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            IME my best 4G ping at home is around 30ms (100ms+ on 3G) whereas FTTC is usually around 8ms.

            Don't be seduced by Virgin Media's claims about speed then, should they pass your house. Even on a "good" VM connection like mine, the best you'll get is 25-35ms, plus every thirty seconds a spike momentarily to 140-200ms (courtesy of the faulty Puma 6 chipset in their mandatory cable modem).

            VM have just been taken to task by the poodles of the ASA over their claim that their network is suitable for gaming, although all they did was introduce a mealy mouthed caveat in tiny print miles down the relevant web page.

      2. Commswonk Silver badge

        Who uses a landline in this day and age?

        Well I, or more correctly we do. I would be very interested to know how much individual users pay for "all you can eat" 4G services; while I am willing to accept that it might well be less than we pay for our landline + FTTC, with both of us using the internet for different things at the same time there is no additional cost. Fortunately this house is sprog - free but even if it wasn't I daresay that we could accommodate additional use without incurring additional cost. (For the record we do not use bolt - on vision / sport and the like.)

        Can 4G subscribers add additional users without cost? I strongly suspect not, but would welcome someone doing a proper comparison between line and radio based services that isn't heavily loaded with emotion bordering on a pathological hatred of BT.

        And no; I do not work for BT. No; I have never worked for BT. No; I am not a BT shareholder unless some holding comes as part of a "bundle" from a Building Society investment account.

        1. handleoclast Silver badge

          @Commswonk

          I don't have "all you can eat." I have a plan from Three which gives me 30G/month tetherable, and throws in 200 minutes and unlimited texts, for £15/month. Tetherable meaning I can turn my phone into a wi-fi hotspot or hook up my home network over USB and have as many computers/users on the connection as I want.

          That plan is no longer offered, although I suspect you could still get it if you pushed hard. The closest equivalent is (I think, memory may be letting me down) 30G/month tetherable + unlimited voice and texts for £17.50/month (something like that). I dislike talking to people on the phone (or in real life, for that matter), so I'd be paying an extra £2.50/month for something I don't want if I switched to that, but some people probably think it's wonderful.

          Three do have unlimited plans. But you can only tether 30G/month of that. Since most of my use is tethered, the unlimited plans are of no interest to me either. If most/all of your use is untethered then they may be better for you.

          Even if BT would let you have ADSL without voice (and therefore without landline charges), which they don't, Three still works out cheaper (as long as you use less than 30G a month). Add in the cost of the landline (which doesn't interest me for reasons given above) and BT works out a lot more.

          Three reception here isn't great, switching between a fair 3G signal and a shitty 4G signal at whim. But Three is mostly good enough and I rarely use 30G in a month (although I try very hard to do so, and usually come close). Nearest cabinet with fibre is about 50 yards from me, so if I needed faster/more reliable I could do so but at greater expense. It's horses for courses.

      3. alwallgbr

        Who uses a landline in this day and age?

        People who can't stand the inferior quality of many mobile to mobile calls

        1. Vince

          Re: Who uses a landline in this day and age?

          Providing they get 3G or 4G signal, the voice call quality on a mobile is miles ahead of a landline.

      4. macjules Silver badge

        Don't know where on earth you get the idea of a 'free' landline as there is certainly no such thing from BT, PlusNet, Sky or TalkTalk. PlusNet charge me £26 per month - £12 for a 'choked' 30Mbps fibre line and £14 for the line rental.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Don't know where on earth you get the idea of a 'free' landline as there is certainly no such thing from BT, PlusNet, Sky or TalkTalk."

          With Vermin Media it usually more expensive to have a plan without a landline. Although in return for this negatively priced landline you do have to deal with Virgin Media, who are one of the worst companies for customer service or tech support I've ever encountered.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You could always go VoIP, Obi-100 + Phone + £2.40 per month (depends who you go with) for a UK geographical number, call costs are extra but you can shop around for deals, it's perfect if you have broadband where you don't have to take a phone.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      had similar on a new install. in the end it took a week, to discover that one port on the voice card was simply blown. moved to anther port and all is ok

      For some reason th exchange is always the last thing they check. Had a similar issue with broadband some years back - again after weeks the problem 'disappeared' after some work at the exchange.

    4. Vince

      Given Sky are only paying for the 40 hours fix time, the problem there is how much Sky are prepared to pay to have faults fixed faster. For once not really Openreach to blame.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Increase rental charges by £7 per month ! WTF ?

    Some quick back of a fag packet numbers, let's assume roughly 20 million lines (probably conservative) then that's recouping £1.8bn per annum, that's almost a Wonga APR return rate on £6bn. More clarification on this £7 per month is needed on exactly who is paying for it, new FTTP customers or everyone who has an Openreach line.

    Robbing bastards.

    1. Mike Scott 1

      Yep... So £7 per month whether I get an upgraded line or not? Do I still have to pay this even though I'm on a crappy EO line and will likely be that way in 2020 and probably beyond?

      Where are OFCOM when you need them...

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Where are OFCOM when you need them...

        No further than a telephone call away. A well - crafted letter would be a better means of communication, though. Much as one might wish it to Ofcom is not going to assume an attitude on the part of retail consumers; it will need some evidence of customer dissatisfaction with charges before it considers doing anything. Why should Ofcom act against greatly inflated charges outside some sort of evidence base?

        And no; I haven't written either, but the day is getting ever closer.

        1. Mike Scott 1

          I may well apply pen to paper... However, I would have thought that a circa 30% increase in line rental charge for no immediate improvement - or even proper commitment to improvement - of service, would attract the attention of the regulator, on behalf of consumers.

    2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Yes, that's a tidy sum isn't it...

      And will they reduce the line rental charges when all upgrade work is done, and those engineers get the boot back to the dole queue?

      No.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Yes, that's a tidy sum isn't it...

        And will they reduce the line rental charges when all upgrade work is done, and those engineers get the boot back to the dole queue?

        No.

        Actually Openreach probably will. It's been reducing line rental charges for over a decade now. It's just that the CPs haven't been passing those savings on and in fact have been increasing their markup.

    3. CheesyTheClown

      Is Wonga legal?

      I have never heard of them, but are they legal?

      I just read their website and they basically say "we know we're predators and before you use us, you should know that too."

      If a person is considering Wonga, they clearly lack the financial management skills needed to make good judgments. A fiscally responsible person would be able to get a short term loan from a bank (maybe an expensive one). So it is clear Wonga is knowingly taking advantage of people that are vulnerable and likely already burdens on tax payers. They are also knowingly facilitating short term loans for gambling addicts.

      If you are in a country where Wonga operates, you should consider filing a suit against the government to protect yourself as a tax payer from being forced to assume the additional tax burden caused by the government enabling these predators from operate.

      In the UK, university is no longer social which means there will be even more stupid people in the future. The reason there is no social university is because of the burden placed on the British government by predatory lenders taking advantage of people too stupid to not overextend themselves... leaving the fallout at the foot of the government. And now the entire future of the country is at risk because some brainiac decided the making people smarter was not in the best interest of the people.

      The good news is, while people get dumber, their booze will stay cheap and instead of studying, the people can get pissed while watching footy... because they can no longer spell intoxicated or football.

      Just knowing Wonga exists makes me angry. Between things this and Brexit, it is clear England is in a race to the bottom with America.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any downvoters here on negative comments about BT please can you add a disclosure that you work for BT, have relatives that work for BT, a BT shareholder or are in receipt of a BT pension because the rest of us have absolutely no sympathy for a business that makes Marley & Scrooge look like philanthropists and Talktalk the pinnacle of customer service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Looking at Ofcom's figures the gap between BT and TalkTalk is quite close.

    2. itzman

      'BT' hasn't existed for some time. Openreach is in fact profitable and effective. The loss making part is BT retail the consumer facing ISP and 'package' broker.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >BT' hasn't existed for some time. Openreach

        Openreach is a wholly owned subsidy of BT, the rest is just smoke and mirrors. I cannot buy shares in Openreach on the stock market but I can in the BT Group Plc.

        I'm not entirely sure what your point is but the conclusion I draw from that is BT uses it as a near monopoly cash cow to subsidise it's other faltering businesses rather than Openreach as a truly independent company to use it's profit to actually deliver a better network.

  4. Mark C 2

    Engineers...?

    Nope, they are hiring Technicians not Engineers. Be great of the Register could use the correct terminology.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Engineers...?

      "Be great of the Register could use the correct terminology."

      And equally great of the PR numpties who write press releases.

    2. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      Re: Engineers...? A very good point.

      The term "engineer" in this particular technical context (if not being abused by their PR dept.) would imply that the people concerned were qualified at degree level in electronic engineering or allied trades. I doubt very much that they intend to employ that many people with those kinds of CVs. After all they do not want to have to pay any more than they can possibly get away with.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Engineers...?

      'Field Technician' yes, 'techie' no. The techie is the one he's on the phone during the install telling him what's the difference between an ethernet port and a PoE.. (perhaps harsh but I've been in the trenches)

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Engineers...?

        Two weeks ago I couldn't spell 'engineer'. Now I are one.

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    Efficiency

    The could get the "engineers" to work more efficiently by having them spend time fixing line faults, rather than clocking up miles in their vans. Most that I've spoken to over recent years have been on the road more than they've had their head in equipment cabinets and none of them have any local knowledge any more, you often have to tell them where the pits and boxes are.

    I agree with @Mark C 2 re the Tech vs Engineer view.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Efficiency

      Reminds me of the time I had an Openreach Ethernet NID all unplugged/unscrewed in the rack and ready to go. The "engineer" turned up, retrieved the box from the rack, and said "great, now I can spend the next 55 minutes relaxing in my van"...

  6. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    However, many folk remain less than happy with Openreach, with Templeton, a town in Devon, England, burning an effigy of an Openreach van on Guys Fawkes Night in November to protest over slow broadband speeds in the area.

    Which was uninformed and ill thought out. Openreach had already offered to cover that area in the next BDUK phase(*) but Devon County Council rejected their plan and went with Gigaclear instead. So responsibility for Templeton now rests with Gigaclear(**). If Openreach stepped in now there would (quite rightly) be howls of protests from the ALTnet providers.

    (*)Not necessarily that specific village however. I don't think the plans they put forward were that specific.

    (**)Though I don't know if Gigaclear are covering that specific village either.

  7. Mark C 2

    @Doctor Syntax

    Touché.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    barely enough to keep numbers static

    Not sure that recruitment plan's going to work out. My brother is eagerly counting the days till he can afford to retire, long before normal retirement age. Recent changes improving job security haven't changed his mind and he's not alone. The experienced 'engineers' are so pissed off with ongoing bad working conditions, attacks on their pensions and general shitty treatment from BT/Openreach it will be a struggle to just replace leaving staff.

    The only way this can work is for Openreach to magically concentrate the work so their staff don't waste more time driving than working. The only way that works is if huge swathes of the country go unserviced OR recruitment is massively increased beyond these numbers.

  9. Port_able

    Fresh from a BT operator today, news (old?) that while a line might be faulty and you can't get through, they'll test the time and tell you it's faulty but won't raise a job to fix it UNLESS they can find the account holder that they can send the bill to. So the called faulty number remains out of order as they doubtless continue to charge for the days it remains out of service or unusable.

    #snafu

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile, 3 ex colleagues (knowing that I'm still looking for a job) sent me links to local papers reporting on this. So I go and look for the job adverts to see what sort of terms they are offering - supposedly looking for people based in local towns, but I can't find any vacancies on their site.

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