BT Openreach chief executive to quit in Spring 2014

UK operator BT has announced that Liv Garfield, the chief executive of its Openreach division, will step down in Spring 2014 to join water company Severn Trent.

Garfield has been responsible for overseeing a £2.5 billion ($4 billion) commercial rollout of fiber broadband services by Openreach, BT’s (London, UK) local access network business.

BT also says she played a “pivotal role” in developing the business case for that fiber deployment in her previous role as Group Strategy Director.

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

Gavin Patterson, BT’s chief executive, credits Garfield with developing a fiber network that is among the fastest in Europe.

Since Garfield took over the leadership position at Openreach in April 2011, the coverage of BT’s network has grown from about four million premises to more than 17 million.

The operator also claims to serve more than two million customers with a high-speed, fiber-based service, up from just 100,000 in April 2011.

The process of local loop unbundling – whereby BT’s rivals take control of the ‘last mile’ of the network into customer premises – has also made considerable progress under Garfield’s tenure, insists BT.

The number of unbundled lines has grown from 7.6 million in April 2011 to about nine million today, says the operator.

“This demonstrates plenty of healthy competition in the UK phone and broadband market as a result of the Openreach model,” says BT.

According to BT’s statement, a successor to Garfield will be announced “in due course”.

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