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BT boss says the next UK Government should prioritise full-fibre rollout

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The boss of BT has said the next government should prioritise a full fibre rollout as the number of smart devices in the home is expected to drastically increase in the next five years.

Philip Jansen said that while homes currently have only around five gadgets they could soon hold around 100 as older items are replaced and new smart home products hit the market.

“What we need is a regulated regime that establishes the situation where we can invest heavily and get the returns our investors should appropriately get ... What we’re looking for is fair, reasonable returns for our investors,” Jansen said.

“I do think that is a more than appropriate approach and I can’t see how anyone can argue the reverse. We can’t do it for nothing.”

He added: “The ambition of full fibre to the whole UK by 2025 is really very ambitious, but it’s been a good catalyst for everyone to figure out.

“As we go into the next few weeks a whole new uncertainty obviously appears. We need to ensure that fibring up the nation is one of the top priorities of the UK government, whoever it is.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to roll out universal full-fibre broadband by 2025 when he entered office but a group of MPs cast doubt on the pledge saying he did not does not “grasp the extent” of the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

The UK’s current Universal Service Obligation will guarantee everyone in the UK at least 10Mbps by March next year although this has been criticised for being too low a target.

Jansen’s comments come as his firm announced that revenue fell by about 1 per cent in the half year to September 2019.

This was blamed on the “impact of regulation, declines in legacy products, and strategically reducing low margin business”.

The firm also said it would increase spending to upgrade 600 high street stores by bringing the BT name back to the high street.

BT intends to stop selling standard broadband connections on the legacy BT copper network to 90 per cent of the UK and promised to use all available technologies to provide the fastest connections possible for the 10 per cent unable to get superfast connections.

“BT delivered results in line with our expectations for the second quarter and first half of the year, and we remain on track to meet our outlook for the full year,” Jansen said

“We’ve invested to strengthen our competitive position. We’ve accelerated our 5G and FTTP (fibre to the premises) rollouts, introduced an enhanced range of product and service initiatives for both consumer and business segments, and announced price and technology commitments to deliver fair, predictable and competitive pricing for customers.”

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