back to article BT is ditching workers faster than your internet connection with 55,000 for chop by 2030

BT, Britain's former state-owned telco, is to erase up to 55,000 jobs, or 42 percent of staff, by 2030 to boost profits in what it told The Reg is a vision of how the workforce will look at the end of this decade. The intention is to slash the total labor base, currently some 130,000-strong, to between 75,000 and 90,000, as …

  1. Alan Bourke

    "AI to take over in customer services"

    Well, not-actually-AI will have to improve a bit since thus far it seems to be mainly responsible for an avalanche of even-more-irritating Twitter bots.

    1. Howard Sway Silver badge

      Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

      I doubt they'll wait for AI to improve - as it's BT, they'll just impose it on their customers anyway no matter how crap and useless it is. After all, it's the "new big thing", and using it despite its' complete unsuitability for interacting with real people about real problems will make them look excitingly modern and cutting edge to the more credulous market analysts who influence their share price.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        there will be 'customers'? To become a customer, you need to exchange tokens called 'money' for a 'service'. If you don't have spare 'money', no service. No service, no BT.

      2. darklord

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        so just like Octopus's energy 90 percent of emails are replied to by AI. and amazingly there custmoer services satisfaction have sky rocketed. That i don't believe as who actually is resolving issues and AI bot cant make decisions on billing.

        Will we recieve a reduction in costs !!!!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          Where did you pluck 90% from?

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

            Apparently the head of Octopus reckoned 34%, equivalent to 250 people last week, but that's from zero in February. The interview was given to The Times and reprinted in such as the Yorkshire Post, both of which are behind paywalls, so here's the text (I believe) of the YP article from Pressreader.

            M.

    2. Joe Drunk
      Flame

      Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

      It should be obvious that the purpose of these automated customer service bots is not to help customers but to frustrate them to the point where they will hang up and never call back.

      1. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        It should be obvious that the purpose of these automated customer service bots is not to help customers but to frustrate them to the point where they will hang up and never call back.

        How does that differ from what BT offer today? How could anyone tell?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          "It should be obvious that the purpose of these automated customer service bots is not to help customers but to frustrate them to the point where they will hang up and never call back.

          How does that differ from what BT offer today? How could anyone tell?"

          That is the whole point, it is no different to today ...... just cheaper as the 'lack of service' is automated and supplied by AI !!!

          :)

          1. R Soul Silver badge

            Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

            There's no need to use AI to make that happen. BT could just empty their call centres and arrange for incoming calls to go unanswered forever.* They seem to be already well on the way of doing that.

            * Or better still, answer those incoming calls and divert them into an infinite loop of IVR hell that goes nowhere. Which already seems to be happening too. That way BT makes money from those calls while their customers^Wvictims lose the will to live. That's the sort of thinking that should get me a 8-9 figure salary as BT's next CEO.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        I don't mind an actual live chat session i.e. one with a real human on the other end simply typing back to me. Those are usually fine.

        But a full blown AI-driven expert system or decision engine, we'll see how well customers take to that.

      3. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        True, but many companies are already good at that anyway!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

      Can it actually be worse than their existing customer service? The mind boggles.

      1. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        Obviously, you've never dealt with Talk Talk. Or Dixons. Or the Passport Office. Or...

        1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          I cannot upvote your comment enough. ----->

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          Or DVLA.

          First you have to get through...

    4. simpfeld

      Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

      They never seem to get that the reason I called is that the website didn't allow me to do the more complex thing I'm trying to do.

      As an example, I have a locked out account just now with MS and I can't get a number anywhere to talk to a human being, the automatic reset doesn't want to play with this account. Stuck at the moment!

      1. Electric Panda

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        It always bugs me that the one little thing you want to do is the one little thing that must be done by phone, for reasons totally unknown to anyone. Drives me bonkers.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          Once things started re-opening in 2020, our bank was doing quite well with customer service at the actual branch. Unlike other banks in the town they had kept the traditional "tellers behind glass" setup so didn't need anything major in the way of protections to keep customers from breathing all over the staff. This was great until the local manager was replaced by someone from elsewhere. I queued to get in to the bank one day to make a transfer, only to be told that transfers were no longer allowed at the branch, and I had to telephone in.

          The number given was - get this - the number for the branch, not the central telephone banking number, and I sat on the wall across the road watching a member of staff pick up my phone call and deal with the transaction. I was about 20m away.

          A few weeks later the local manager was back and normal service resumed :-)

          M.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

      Not really. AI is more than capable of telling people to unplug their modems for 10 minutes and call back if it doesn't work.

      Also, AI, just like a human...is as crap as the information you give it. So people that struggle talking to tech support humans will also struggle talking to tech support AI. The fix for this isn't better people in tech support...we all know this...the fix is better technical literacy.

      A lot of adult education centres want to improve their adult computer literacy offerings, but the funding is shocking...I wouldn't mind teaching computer literacy to adults once or twice a week, but at the rates these places pay for your time, I can't justify it. I also don't agree with the way people are charged for it.

      Obviously, if people were signing up for free, then I'd be more than happy to offer training for free as a community favour as it were, because everyone is throwing something in for the betterment of the local area...but they aren't getting it for free, the punter is paying upwards of £50-£100 a head depending on how many evenings are involved. Usually 3 or 4...and popular classes (which a tech class would be) can attract up to 30 people (or whatever the max capacity for a room is), people are hungry for it, we all know that because whenever we deliver support, there is always a chat at the end that the customer invokes to catch themselves up with whats going on in tech...that means the adult learning centre (which is usually run by the council, it is in my case) is grossing about £3,000 for 4 hours...whereas the "volunteers" get paid around £10 an hour. Which means for a 4 week course (1 hour a week) you earn a grand total of £40 (if you're lucky). This gives the false impression that that the tutor is doing alright out of it, because the attendees think they're paying for the tutor, but they aren't, they're just giving more money to the council...it's a stealth tax.

      If I could get even a third of what the council is charging, and I had guarantees that the final 60% contributed in some way to providing materials and equipment, I'd be down to do several courses a year. That would get my family a nice holiday, to make up for the lost time tutoring out of hours, and the local area would be more tech savvy as a result...I would also ensure that the remaining 60% was used to invest in facilities to assist with ongoing learning...create the possibility of 1 to 1 tutoring for those in need etc etc.

      Before anyone jumps in waxes lyrical about "well they need to cover the cost of the building, cleaning it etc etc)...that is what council tax is for. Everyone already pays for that building being there.

      1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        I agree with you 100%.

        I don't understand why you post this AC. You should be standing for election to your local council, or ........ more.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        Nobody's stopping you from running your own computer literacy classes. They don't have to be held in a council-owned building either.

        1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

          Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

          Council building already has the space, power, public liability insurance etc. already provided and covered by the council. Doing it elsewhere would mean having to cover those costs, which could easily raise the price per head way higher than £50-£100.

          This is a public service to the local community. It's being held in a council building that exists and is usable whether course is run or not. The council should be all for that, not trying to cream profit from it.

      3. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        They've got to fund all those well-paid EDI Managers somehow, haven't they?! They can't use the pot-hole budget as that's already cut back to the absolute minimum.

      4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        the big advantage of AI is that with little or no training it can give its answer in iambic pentameter verses

      5. therobyouknow
        Thumb Up

        Re: "AI to take over in customer services"

        Really brilliantly wrritten down to earth covering all bases comment. Thank you!

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Flame

    This is the tulip bubble all over again, isn't it?

    - ML software is rebranded as AI to magically get funding.

    - Corporations selling AI claiming they have the best version.

    - Nobody knows what "AI" will do or be a decade from now, but businesses are already planning firing thousands over the next decade on the back of that.

    Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and NFT ran out of steam but AI is the grift that keeps on giving for snakeoil salespeople, when LLMs end up to be a dead end there'll be another AI thing along after that.

    1. Alan Bourke

      Re: This is the tulip bubble all over again, isn't it?

      Does anyone know when it's 'flying cars' turn for the venture capital and big tech hype train again?

      1. Blofeld's Cat

        Re: This is the tulip bubble all over again, isn't it?

        Probably just after cold fusion ...

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Re: This is the tulip bubble all over again, isn't it?

          Is that 'cold fusion on Mars using a smartphone'?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is the tulip bubble all over again, isn't it?

        Flying cars due a relaunch in 2026. It was in the news - https://news.sky.com/story/dubais-flying-taxis-could-be-launched-as-early-as-2026-12810082

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

    Coincidentally, a few days ago I happened to be looking at a call centre building under construction near my work. I remember thinking that the writing was already on the wall for it before it was even finished.

    1. Anne Hunny Mouse

      Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

      I would expect to AI to be better than most off-shored Contact Centres...

      Contact Centre industry has been sliding downwards in the UK for years.

      The beancounters love off shoring to reduce costs.

      Sometimes they move back to UK if the company takes notice of the negative feedback on off-shoring.

      There will also be some on-shore due to GDPR on the data or other constraints (e.g. Protectively Marked).

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

        Yeah, AI will be so much better, it will be thoroughly trained on worldwide Big Data records from all the offshore contract call centres. Oh, wait....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

      (OP above replying to my own comment)

      I forgot to mention the most ironic bit in the context of this story.... which is that it's going to be a *BT* call centre.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

        Rows of poky cubicles you couldn't swing a cat in?

        That's ok, they'll write off the "call centre" as a tax loss then rent it out to the Home Office for boat people! There'll still be plenty of demand in 2030!

    3. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

      I used to work for an ISP / telecoms outfit and the building we worked out of, which had a call centre in one wing got demolished last year. Oddly, I just went to their web site, and the location is still listed. Nobody left to update the web site I guess. The inset Google map shows it as closed, and if you zoom in, you can see the pile of rubble that once was the call centre.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Call centres as the post-industrial future of employment already a dead man walking

        Was that the pile of rubble from the time there was a call centre or the one that got left after there wasn't?

  4. IglooDame

    They don't mention shrinking their C-levels at all, pity that as it'd be worth a few quid to the positive in the bottom line. And one certainly wonders what AI can do for that crowd, too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      C-Suite AI is easy to program.

      10 Does this make me money?

      20 If it does, keep doing it.

      30 If it doesn't, fire people.

      40 go to 10

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There is a mistake in the implementation:

        20 If it does, keep doing it.

        should be:

        20 If it does, keep tinkering with it.

        The purpose of involving management is to reach the "Fire people" state!

    2. Petalium

      À C-level AI would probably be indistinguishable from an 8-ball, or a can of beans. Or maybe an empty can of beans, since the make more noise.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        A.C-level AI would probably be designed and trained on the textbooks the C-suits don’t read and so do a better job than the C-suits…

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Nothing would be good enough to replace BT senior manglement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nothing would certainly be cheaper and make fewer mistakes, yes.

  5. David Nash

    Did I get this right?

    We'll all have FTTP by the end of the decade?

    1. Captain Scarlet
      Coat

      Re: Did I get this right?

      No and by the end of the decade it will be impossible to speak to a human at BT

      1. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        I thought we already reached that state with BT decades ago.

        1. Captain Scarlet
          Terminator

          Re: Did I get this right?

          BT Openreach engineers are currently still a thing and they are people O_O

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Did I get this right?

            "BT Openreach engineers are currently still a thing and they are people O_O"

            Ever tried talking directly to an Openretch Engineer via BT !!!???

            They are not there for you to talk to, as you are *not* the customer the *ISP* is the customer and you do not count !!!

            I have had problems that could be easily solved if the Engineer would talk to me BUT it is not allowed.

            I now do not attempt to solve any problem with BT as they are a 'Brick Wall' as far as problem resolution is concerned.

            I managed to get a proper line reset to fix a problem maybe 6-7 years ago, it only took 6-8 weeks of complaining/reporting technical faults with the line to get BT Openretch to react.

            The line has been slowly deteriorating ever since.

            When it falls below the minimum line speed, I am supposed to get, I will start the 'dance' again with the ISP/BT to fix the line !!!

            :)

            1. NeilPost

              Re: Did I get this right?

              Blame Ofcom and a prior Chairman there for this. Undertakings BT had to sign up to to enable equivalence of competition between Openreach and BT and competitors allowed access to their network like Sky, Talk-Talk, Vodafone etc:

              That prior Chair is … Sharon White. Currently trashing John Lewis Partnership.

              A never had a proper job career civil servant-er.

            2. Captain Scarlet

              Re: Did I get this right?

              Ok but for an ISDN a few years ago the OpenReach engineer was very down to earth

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Did I get this right?

                The two OpenReach engineers I spoke to a while ago were very down to earth. Waists down in the manholes adjacent to the foortway box & DSLAM to be exact. They were reworking all the connections which they said were in poor condition.

                The call centre I'd spoken to about intermittent connections hadn't been informed about this and had offered to send an engineer out to check with an £80 charge if nothing was found. Of course nothing would have been found because the guys in the field would have finished the job. It's just as well I took a walk down the road before agreeing to that offer.

                My complaint that the call centre should have been made aware of local work like that was summarily dismissed.

      2. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        I expect to still be on crap copper in 10 years time as BT just CBA with fibre in areas of low population density (as far higher cost on a per building basis, so deliberate way to keep profits high by just ignoring a big chunk of households)

    2. steelpillow Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Did I get this right?

      In BT-speak, "FTTP" means "Not much farther from the fibre termination cabinet than 2 MHz broadband can actually penetrate copper."

      1. NeilPost

        Re: Did I get this right?

        Free Openreach FTTP upgrade here, which took our Talk-Talk from a patchy 20-30/10 to a rock solid 70/30 Mbit.

        It’s a VAST improvement … with far higher speeds available if you want to cough more money up.

        Openreach engineer replaced Mastersocket to remove Broadband socket and installed a new NTU point that existing router connects to with an Ethernet cable. New cabling outside follows existing route.

    3. RockBurner

      Re: Did I get this right?

      HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      oh, boy you make me laugh.

      I live in a postcode with 4 buildings.

      We are never going to get FTTP.

      By a cunning irony that only modern life could bring...

      The Fibre backbone runs directly past the house and there's a junction box (or whatever it's called) less than 20 metres away.

      I spoke to the (soon to be made redundant) operative working on it only a week or so ago, and he confirmed that the fibre upgrades going out were for 'yet-to-be-built' estates in the next village/town, but our place (despite being less than 20 metres away, as said), would be highly unlikely to ever get fibre.

      Obviously you can't just run a hosepipe from said junction box to the house.... I get that it's more complex than that, but still galling as f***.

      1. very angry man

        Re: Did I get this right?

        I would buy a backhoe, that I would need 2000hours practical experience on, and just keep digging a hole in the same place, yes that place, over and over again, if can't have it, I will have a hole instead, and I need to get my hours Up

      2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        I feel your pain. The local provider actually has fiber running on my property not 10 linguines from my utility pole, where I have an existing spare conduit in the ground that pops up under my house next to the water main. I have microwave internet because they won't slap an ADM to drop me a connection unless I want to pay the entire install bill, which they will then extend service to the other houses out here, and require me to pay the monthly. Nope, they want the payments, they can install the equipment. If I pay for the equipment, it belongs to me, but they didn't like that idea. So microwave I will stay.

      3. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        @RockBurner

        Feel your pain (8 houses in our rural middle of nowhere street)

        There are rumours of rural Fibre eventually coming to our area - unfortunately these rumpurs relate to GigaClear - a company with a reputation to make OpenReach / BT look amazing in comparison.

      4. Persona

        Re: Did I get this right?

        Never say never. I live in a postcode with 6 buildings and we have have FTTP for 4 or 5 years. It was there ready on the telegraph poles for a year before that, but the website didn't let you order it. I've noticed them putting fiber to telegraph poles outside my daughter house a couple of miles away, so perhaps she will be able to order it in a year or two.

    4. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Did I get this right?

      I thin BT read that as Fibre To The Pavement

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Fibre To The Pavement

        Fiction To The Premises perhaps?

        I would get my coat but I can’t quite Reach.

        1. very angry man

          Re: Fibre To The Pavement

          Fiber to the? Piss off

    5. jollyboyspecial

      Re: Did I get this right?

      "We'll all have FTTP by the end of the decade?"

      No.

      What they mean is that they will have finished rolling out FTTP to all the premises they intend to roll it out to. That's not even close to all premises.

      I've been told by Openreach that they have finished the rollout in my village, but I can't get FTTP.

      OR: But we've got fibre on every pole they said.

      Me: But what about all the premises (ie anything built after about 1970) that aren't fed from a pole.

      OR: The rollout is just to do poles. We don't do underground fed premises on this rollout.

      The more modern housing is fed underground because somebody at the post office (as it was then) decided that underground feeds were more "modern". The underground cables don't even run in ducts, they just go under roads and pavements a few inches below the surface. Cable breaks due to roadworks aren't uncommon. We've had two outages on our street this year. One when they installed some new drains that took out a couple of houses and one that took out the whole street when they were installing some new kerb stones.

      Talking to one of the engineers that came to fix the latter he told me why OR weren't rolling out to premises where the d-side is underground. They simply don't have the time or the money to start digging up roads to lay in new d-sides to all the underground fed properties. And from what the engineer told me properties like that aren't included in the rollout project.

      I did hear rumours that there were plans to use G.Fast to bring any properties still on copper up to 1Gbps however there are a couple of problems with that.

      The first is that G.Fast might be capable of 1Gbps, but only over very short distances, probably below 100m and the loss over greater distances is much worse than with VDSL. The vast majority of cable runs from the DSLAM to the property on FTTC are well over 100m so in a nutshell G.Fast isn't going to be giving very many people anything like a Gig.

      The other and more pressing problem is this: The majority of AIO street cabs deployed by OR just happen to be Huawei. GOV.UK have banned the use of Huawei kit in any solution delivering 1Gbps to the end customer. As such OR can't now use G.Fast to deliver "ultrafast" broadband to residential customers without ripping out their street cabs and replacing them with another manufacturer's kit. This might well be more expensive than doing the job right and laying copper into every premises. The best solution I can see is actually doing what they should have done in the first place and putting in poles and feeding aerially all those premises originally fed underground.

      Oh and to anybody who says that fibre is irrelevant because 5G will deliver over 1Gbps I can only say have you any idea how far away we are from delivering 5G to every premises in the country? And have you any idea how many properties in the UK can't get a reliable mobile signal of any type at all?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        Yeah but it'll all be alright, because with BT losing a third of their staff, their costs and therefore prices will reduce immediately by 33%, right?

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          Re: Did I get this right?

          Perhaps. Or BT could give the CEO and his cronies 50%+ pay rises as a reward for cutting costs. Which of these options is more likely?

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Did I get this right?

          No, the growing black hole in the pension scheme will swallow it all up. More accrued pension rights keeping up with inflation which the salaries might not.

      2. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Did I get this right?

        What they mean is that they will have finished rolling out FTTP to all the premises they intend to roll it out to. That's not even close to all premises.

        Oh it'll be close. Current estimates (and what they are officially claiming) is in excess of 80% of UK residential properties will be passed by openreach by the end of 2026 and that's just the initial roll-out. They aren't going to suddenly down tools and stop laying fibre it'll probably just become more of a demand-led targeted process.

        They hit 50% passed a month or so ago.

        Most of the remaining properties will likely be covered by Alt Nets so in the end I doubt more than 5% of the country will be left without any kind of FTTP.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Did I get this right?

          "in excess of 80% of UK residential properties will be passed by openreach by the end of 2026"

          The operative word being "passed". Like the poster upthread reporting the fibre and junction box being within 20 metres of his house but absolutely no chance of tapping in for that small group of houses.

          1. AndrueC Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Did I get this right?

            'Passed' is a standard industry term. The final few yards are always completed on an as/when needed basis and paid for by the customer (sometimes indirectly through their CP). No-one rolling out a telephone network will actually connect up each property as they go. That would hugely increase the cost and time scales. It would also be fundamentally stupid since not every property will want a connection.

            The properties you are talking about (which are very rare) are not counted as passed. Within the industry 'passed' means property is ready to be connected.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Did I get this right?

              'Passed' is a standard industry term.

              I'm sure that's true, but as per the poster below, "passed" can be twisted to mean anything a company wants when it's in their favour :-)

              It's probably almost as variable a term as "coverage" in mobile phone terms :-)

          2. jollyboyspecial

            Re: Did I get this right?

            Passed is a weasel word of ever I heard one. Yes fibre passes my property. There are two poles on the street behind my house and the fibre between them runs right past the end of my garden but openreach have categorically refused to connect me to either of those poles as my d-side comes in underground from the other side of the property. Having been in the industry for a long time I know that connecting me to either of those poles is simpler, practical and perfectly legal. OR's documentation shows that our street is fed underground so as far as they are concerned the poles may as well be on another planet. But I'm also willing to bet that they will class the fibre as passing my house and every other house on my side of the street.

            If you don't believe that OR can be this ridiculous consider the things that can block them from visiting a premises to resolve a fault. For example we have a site with the street address 44-48 High Street. One day we reported a fault only to be told that OR couldn't dispatch an engineer due to an ORDI issue. Knowing that ORDI stands for openreach data integrity issue I asked what the problem with their database was. They came back and told me that the address on their database for the circuit was 44-48 but according to the post office there was no such address. I checked the PAF and there were 44, 46 and 48 in there but not 44-48. There was also an entry for our business but without a street number. OR had happily installed the circuit to that address but were now telling me that they couldn't dispatch an engineer to fix a fault because the address they had didn't match the address on the PAF. It took them a week to correct the issue! All they did was change the address on their systems and that took 5 working days.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Openretch and passing

              "Passed is a weasel word of ever I heard one."

              True. Saying fibre passes most properties is as intentionally misleading as saying the mainline railway passes someone's house when the nearest station is 20-30 miles away and the express trains don't stop there. The motorway passes within walking distance of my house. The closest on/off ramp is ~15 miles away.

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Did I get this right?

          5% of the country by area or by population?

          1. ChoHag Silver badge

            Re: Did I get this right?

            By wealth.

            1. AndrueC Silver badge
              Happy

              Re: Did I get this right?

              By location. Although wealth will be a factor. Some properties are just difficult to connect and the costs of doing so are unreasonably large for any CP to bear on their own. In those situations it will depend on someone (the owner, their employer, the council etc.) to help fund the connection.

              I think it's fair to say that by the end of this decade every property that can reasonably be connected to an FTTP network will be in a position for the owner to request it should they want it. Those that remain will be the true outliers - crofter's cottages in remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales or Bill and Jane's house that they built half way up Ben Nevis because they liked the views. There might also be a few small communities (hamlets perhaps) who don't have it by then but not many.

              Something to consider - once Openreach winds down their current programme there will be a glut of trained network builders on the jobs market. Equipment manufacturers will suddenly have spare capacity that they need to use for something. The cost of rolling out FTTP will therefore reduce even further. That will open up locations that are not currently viable.

              What %ge of the network in 2030 will be Openreach is unclear but I think it's going to be 'most of the country' for sure and could even be 'almost everywhere'.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: Did I get this right?

                "There might also be a few small communities (hamlets perhaps) who don't have it by then but not many."

                Oh, I agree. There will always be those out of the way places that might wait generations to to be connected, like here in Northumberland :-)

                On the other hand, when you have a mature network and there's only the hard to reach places left waiting, the company is profitable to the tune of 100 of millions if not billions, and there's a moral and social responsibility as well as good PR, even those places might eventually get a connection :-)

              2. jollyboyspecial

                Re: Did I get this right?

                "I think it's fair to say that by the end of this decade every property that can reasonably be connected to an FTTP network will be in a position for the owner to request it should they want it. Those that remain will be the true outliers - crofter's cottages in remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales or Bill and Jane's house that they built half way up Ben Nevis because they liked the views. There might also be a few small communities (hamlets perhaps) who don't have it by then but not many."

                And I'm pretty damned sure you think wrong. Remember when the were promises from Openreach that every property would be served by fibre. There were doubters, lots of them. And the doubters were proved right when OR redefined "fibre" and said that included fibre to the cabinet. In other words DSL. You'd be amazed how many properties show as having FTTC available when the cable runs are so long and of such poor quality that the predicted speeds are no better than ADSL. I have a few properties where the "upgrade" to FTTC has resulted in a downgrade in performance.

                Then there's my situation where there are two fibre enabled poles within reach of my house but Openreach have actively refused to connect me to either because their checker says FTTP is not available to my address.

                Even if you offer to pay whatever it costs to be connected they're not interested. Instead you would need to order an EAD connection which is considerably more expensive than FTTP.

                It's a crying shame that the government and Ofcom didn't open this up to tender on an area by area basis. And the way to do that would be to only grant the contract on the basis that every property would be covered. And you then defined the area so that each area includes low hanging fruit (ie densely populated areas that are easy to serve and therefore high profit) and more difficult to serve remote properties. And then you could impose nasty penalties should the job not be finished on time. Instead the whole damned job just got handed to Openreach. So much for this government's championing of a free market economy.

                1. Persona

                  Re: Did I get this right?

                  their checker says FTTP is not available to my address.

                  Mine did that too for a year or two after the fiber was installed on the poles. Eventually it did appear as orderable from BT, but it was another couple of years before other ISPs acknowledged that I had fiber available.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Did I get this right?

              By proximity to where MPs have houses.

    6. David Hicklin Bronze badge

      Re: Did I get this right?

      Yes, the idea is to get rid of copper completely, it will all be i/p based telephony.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Did I get this right?

        I got some friends that may help you get rid of all that copper, even if it is buried...

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    I notice the CEO's job hasn't been threatened with AI, yet.

    Pity. Especially when it's probably the easiest job to do with AI, more so than operating a nationwide telecoms network anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      well, first they came for the minions, but I didn't worry, because I was in a f... board of directors.

      Then they came for...

      - in short, take heart, their turn will come!

  7. steve_reg

    Seems a bit premature

    I think it's a bit early to be looking at reducing the headcount of people installing fibre - the currently deployed network is nowhere near ready to switch off the copper and their currently announced switch-off dates are wildly optimistic.

    Perhaps they should think about laying off all the van drivers, managers, lawyers etc, since AI is so advanced already it could take those jobs as well.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Seems a bit premature

      the currently deployed network is nowhere near ready to switch off the copper and their currently announced switch-off dates are wildly optimistic.

      They haven't mentioned any dates for that (other than in a handful of test locations). Their plan is to switch it off as/when an exchange reaches a 75% FTTP threshold. The only firm switch off date is for WLR and that is not dependant on nor related to the FTTP roll-out.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Seems a bit premature

      The "people installing fibre" that will be going are the contractors doing the large roll-outs, trunk lines and the like, which they expect to be more or less finished and certainly scaling down in 10 years time. The people you see out in the streets wiring up and fixing the cabs etc. will still be around, although they claim the newer kit is more robust so should need less maintenance and therefore fewer people to do the fixes.

  8. BigAndos

    I’ve been a BT customer for over 10 years (no I’m not sure why either). Unbelievably their customer service has improved a bit in that time* and it’s much easier now to speak to someone with a vague clue about what’s going on. Plus they call you back and check on things. With this announcement I’ll assume that is at an end and I’ll just be dealing with a pi55poor chat gpt implementation. Guess my BT tenure is at an end…

    *(aside from the time we moved house and they connected us by giving us our new neighbour’s line cutting them off for two weeks).

  9. tin 2

    Replace with AI? Hahahahahahahahahahahaa

    I presume they haven't actually *used* any of the stuff around at the moment masquerading as AI.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      No, but they're watched carefully curated demonstrations with crafted questions showing expected responses.

      On the other hand, while it will likely be frustrating for people with a clue and who have an "out of band" problem, automated chatbot like front line service desk will probably deal with a large portion of callers to the satisfaction of both sides. After all, a lot of 1st line is scripted with the operator not allowed to deviate, have little to no training and yet still deal with many, many calls to "switch it off and on again", "check the cables are plugged in" etc. So, not really that much of a change other than possibly having to learn new ways to short circuit the process and get to 2nd line :-)

      1. NeilPost

        I’d love to be a fly on the wall with my 83 years old Dad and a BT Chatbot. He can barely operate his iPad (struggled for 6 months with a split keyboard) I resolved in 10 seconds.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    10,000 roles would be cut, most likely in customer services

    clearly somebody read about 300 million job posts to be lost to AI soon, and took the advice to heart. It'll be interesting to see who's going to purchase BT services when this crowd becomes fully redundant.

  11. WorkShyEU

    But you need a landline though...Dinosaurs..

  12. Tessier-Ashpool

    "For a company like BT there is a huge opportunity to use AI to be more efficient," said ChatGPT while CEO Philip Jansen was in the shower. “Gissa job,” it went on to demand.

  13. Press any key

    the total labor base

    I'm certain that if BT used that term then the word labour would have been spelt correctly.

    1. Nick Sticks

      Re: the total labor base

      I agree.

  14. Ashto5

    Indian call Centre staff

    Must crapping themselves

    1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Indian call Centre staff

      There won't be a speck if difference in the quality of the information, but the AI'S accent should at least be easier to understand. That's me though, always looking for that silver lining

  15. Ashto5

    Look forward to it

    Hopefully it will have access to you account and prior message chat logs etc

    As the current staff make you start again on every call and then suggest the same things again and again

    Hope that the AI will see that it’s already done crap scripts 1 to 100 and will then fix the bloody problem

    It will get better for sure FAQ’s did improve things but then things were pretty bad

    1. NeilPost

      Re: Look forward to it

      LOL

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look forward to it

      Hello

      Are you interested in some scrap metal tower sitting in London?

      It is not officially for sale yet, but I can give you the exclusive rights to it for a small convenience fee.

    3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Look forward to it

      More like, give it an unexpected response, and it starts from scratch right down to the 5 minute hello/advertising spiel.

  16. dodgyoriginals

    A pension fund that does a bit of comms work...

    BT moves inexorably towards the time when it becomes predominantly a pension fund (with a scarily big hole in it...) that tries to do a bit of comms work on the side.....

  17. FurrowedBrow

    Call center location

    The majority of the call centres that answer when I call are not UK based. So BT are already outsourcing to the cheapest alternative and still they need to save money? Sounds like real structural change needs to occur before the little people are disposed of.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Call center location

      BT, EE & Plusnet have answered 100% of their customer service calls in the UK since the start of 2020, the cheap option of off-shore call centres has not been there for sometime.

      Don't know what % are BT staff vs. outsourcing companies now, I know a few years ago they had the likes of Capita running some of their call centres.

      I do know they have people who answer calls across the brands, I got an EE person when phoning BT the other week.

  18. Felonmarmer

    If you are replacing call centre staff who respond using a script of prepared answers with software that does the same it won't need much in the way of AI other than speech recognition.

    1. R Soul Silver badge

      Not even that. There's no need for AI. Or speech recognition. The BT customer support service computer could mindlessly parrot lines at random from the scripts they gave to their call centre droids. They may well be already doing this.

  19. gfx

    IT Crowd

    The IT Crowd had already "Did you turn it off and on again" on tape. It did work for my phone couldn't call or receive on one simcard, the other worked fine. Restarting the phone solved it... Not really used to restarting that one.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common sense not Ai needed

    Not sure BT need AI to reduce the calls to their contact centres...

    Contract up for renewal - New customer price £40.99/£44,99 depending on what mood their system was in.

    Prior to contract end - E-mail offer £59.99, Website offer £54.99

    Post contract end - £71 best offer they'd give online.

    So to try and sort a deal before moving to another ISP I had to speak to the contact centre.

    Call 1 - EE person, offered £44.99 but then wanted a screenshare to sort contract - call terminated as very fishy

    Call 2 - BT person, had to speak to manager but honoured price from call 1.

    So two unnecessary calls (+1 manager involved) to get a sensible renewal price. If they'd not tried their clever tricks on renewal prices they thought I'd pay online (they had a big team working on personalised renewal offers) they'd have saved on the cost of those calls. So Ai not needed, just a bit of common sense rather than trying to take the P.

    1. NeilPost

      Re: Common sense not Ai needed

      Yup… rewarding customer loyalty still seems to evade Telco’s (even Sky).

      Even dumb people like Asda don’t charge a new customer £1 for a £2 bottle of Pepsi Max and full price to everyone else. Reward scheme members get Cashback - inc a £1 bonus in there account).

    2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Common sense not Ai needed

      The reason they do this is, some people will agree to it, and they figure you will think it's too big a pain to switch services. In the US it takes nothing to switch, no idea how hard it is in the UK to switch your number to another carrier.

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