BT is set to create 7,000 new jobs to support its fibre broadband roll-out to 25 million UK premises.
The company’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, said the jobs are part of plans to “build like fury across the country” to expand broadband coverage.
Money from a government tax deduction will help pay for this investment. A so-called “super deduction” means that big companies like BT will only pay minimal UK corporation tax over the next two years.
In turn, the expansion of fibre will also mean BT is likely to make higher profits in the future, yielding more tax revenue for the UK government.
Jansen said it is a good example of regulation, government policy and the industry working hard to do the right thing for the country and the population at large.
The announcement came as BT reported a large dip in its performance for the last financial year. Between April 2020 and March 2021 profits dipped by 23 per cent to £1.8 billion. This was largely due to falling revenue, which was down 7 per cent, but it was also exacerbated by the pandemic.
Many of the new employment opportunities will enable Openreach, still part of the BT Group, to speed up roll-out out of full fibre.
EE gains more 5G
Supporting this roll-out will be BT’s mobile arm, EE. At the 5G spectrum auction in March, EE managed to secure the largest variety of wavelengths and these mobile connections may help provide faster broadband where installing fibre is less viable.
According to Kester Mann, from market analysis firm CCS Insight, BT’s announcement “is welcome news for the UK’s recovery from COVID-19”.
“The pandemic has underlined the value of high-quality connectivity to support households and businesses,” said Mann. “It will be an important factor in restoring the economy and bridging the digital divide so starkly highlighted over the past year. BT has always maintained that its fibre targets were contingent on the right regulatory conditions that would enable it to make a fair return. It is now living up to its word.”
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants (CNC) in Brighton, said: “The prospect of accelerated roll-out of FTTP is good news for companies following the damage caused by the pandemic. It will enable businesses to seriously consider new locations and new operational models. Forward planning using an independent IT consultant is a good idea to help your organisation understand how full fibre can improve sales, servicing, and online security.”