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BT's Openreach to hire 1,500 engineers

Anonymous Coward

Skilled engineers, that's a laugh. Do you know how long a Broadband BT engineer's training is ?

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I know their first day is spent learning to put their finger up their ass, the training is a week long and they take people off the street for it.

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Anonymous Coward

"Do you know how long a Broadband BT engineer's training is ?"

No. Do you know how much a BT Director's training is worth?

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engineers

That's because brits insist on calling anyone vaguely technical an engineer, on the basis that engineers work steam engines (no, that's firemen and engine drivers)

The guys out on the street are linesmen, or skilled linesmen, or onsite customer service operatives (depending on training)

Then there are field technicians, technical officers and engineering officers - you won't see the latter two classes unless there's something being commissioned or shit and fan have had an encounter.

ONLY THEN do you get to engineers - and you wouldn't see one on a broadband job unless it's his own house.

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Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

After reading a LOT about Openreach's response to faults I believe they have been deliberately sabotaging competitor lines through policy and actions to undermine competitor offerings.

If you go onto any ISP forums in the UK you will see endless complaints of mistakes and actions taken by Openreach and their engineers. The ISP's are hamstrung by Openreach and totally beholden to them.

Having worked for BT, I am personally convinced that this was deliberate. I also changed to BT because of how Openreach dealt with problems on competitor ISPs network. Lo and behold I had only one problem in 5 years and Openreach had it resolved in an hour versus the weeks it would take for them to repair another ISP's problems (that are due to the BT network or equipment).

For the first time in five years I have now taken a leap of faith and am going to another ISP as a direct consequence of Openreach separating from BT. This whole changeover will be down to Openreach so I will see first hand if the changes mean anything. I have very little faith that I won't get screwed over and be without internet for weeks, but I live in hope.

I wonder if Openreach is now truly separate from BT.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

Not only their competitors but also their own lines.

I had a Redcare line installed at home after they had installed the telephone but well before OpenRetch turned up. OpenRetch's 'engineer' said he had to inspect the house lines and five minutes later I get a call from Redcare saying that my house is being broken into as someone has cut off the alarm line. Turns out the OR engineer did not know what the extra line was for and simply sliced through the line and then screwed a fastening over it to hold both bits in place as though nothing had happened.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

But this won't affect that, they said they are hiring 1500 "engineers" not installers or maintenance technicians.

I assume the 1500 engineers will be developing new research concepts into solid products or developing new applications to better serve customers

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

Not sure, I thought that they were allowed to work at the street level with their own staff?

One thing must be seen from this however, those jobs had work that was obviously getting done somewhere else, so that is probably a freebie that Open Reach was doing for them!

In my area Kelly Communications seems to work for Open Reach, Virgin Media, and all of the other Telcos too.

Perhaps BT is wanting to have their own staff to do commissioning and service calls. What irks me is that telcos (SkyBroadband from experience, and I most others too) tend to ask customers "Have you restarted it" and customers just say "Yes"... The fact is that a lot of customers find even that step a bit confusing, but when your tech staff on the phone and it says that the device has been connected for 87 days, then you should be smart enough to know the customer hasn't actually restarted it. I know a few people who have paid a large service charge just for some tech to turn up and reboot their modem. I simply say unplug it and plug it back in at the mains and everyone is surprised that there is such a large callout fee. BT probably doesn't want to let this go.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

Another anecdotal viewpoint:

10+ years of broadband with non-BT ISPs. BT are incompetent as expected, but the issues involved would have affected everyone on my exchange equally (backhaul congestion, etc). Moving to BT wouldn't have helped, in fact it might have hindered as issues may not have passed to BT Wholesale.

A few months ago I moved to BT for infinity. I had to wait three weeks for it to start working because of a provisioning issue. Odd, as the same connection has worked fine for years with other companies. That might well have been more quickly resolved had it been an ISP that could easily diagnose the fault and ride Openreach until it was fixed. I suspected it was a provisioning issue 10 minutes after it changed over, but convincing someone at BT of it was hard work

I don't think it's right that Openreach customers are potentially subsidising BT's foray into sports and mobile - but I've never once thought that Openreach were giving special treatment to the rest of BT, and I refuse to believe it when others claim it.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

What the providers don't like to let on is often they only pay for the minimum service levels from Openreach.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

"I've never once thought that Openreach were giving special treatment to the rest of BT, and I refuse to believe it when others claim it."

Openreach don't have to.

All Openreach have to do, is act as directed by BT head office, who look over all the walls and can direct the various BT sock puppets to act independently without talking to each other in ways which favour BT - EVEN IF THE SOCKPUPPETS DON'T TALK TO EACH OTHER OR FAVOUR EACH OTHER.

This is why Openreach don't rollout broadband in areas with a high concentration of commercial premises - Head Office won't authorise them to do it, because it would eat into the highly lucrative leased line business of BTW (broadband cannabilises leased line business)

BT is a vertically integrated monopoly and needs to be fully cleaved. The situation where OR is a seperated services company and BTG still owns the infrastructure allows them to set the rules in such a way that it continues to favour BTW and BTR over "Competitors"

The day that you see OR leasing duct access to Virgin, offering outside plant services to 3rd parties AND buying duct access from 3rd parties is the day you'll know it's been fully divested.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

My wife runs her business from home and is dependent on the internet, and we have a femtocell to provide mobile phone service.

We had Zen internet over FTTC, and wanted a backup service, so took advantage of free phone line install from TalkTalk and get backup ADSL.

Kelly contractors installed the line and the TalkTalk broadband went live the same day. The day after, the new phone line went dead, openreach stole the new line/port for another install. It took quite a few calls and eight days to restore service.

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Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

Well that is your opinion, but where is your evidence?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Will they stop sabotaging competitors lines?

With greatest respect: another interpretation of your observations is that Kelly didn't exactly follow the correct procedures including verifying that their instructions were correct and the line data was correct, they just did "whatever it takes" to make the line appear to work within Kelly's allotted time, and moved on.

Then the next day some other work gets done using wiring data that isn't correct, and you become an innocent victim.

When I was briefly a cable TV+broadband customer I lost cable service on two occasions, because the Kelly "installer" came to the street corner box, finds it/he is missing some cable or other, pulls any old equivalent patch cable in the cabinet *regardless of whether it's in use or not* (which then becomes a problem for some other sucker), and uses that cable for the new install.

"It took quite a few calls and eight days to restore service."

I've no interest in defending Openreach, especially after it took BT Business multiple weeks and an attempted £500+ surcharge to sort a multi-line issue in a VDSL cabinet (failed line card affecting not just one single line but pretty much everyone who had *both* voice and broadband?).

But there is a plausible alternative explanation for the circumstances you describe. My explanation may not have all the details/terminology quite right, but the idea that the combination of TalkTalk and Kelly is any more trustworthy than two BT subsidiaries doesn't hold *that* much water. Maybe it depends on where in the country you are.

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About turn?

But I always heard BT complaining that separation would STOP them investing in the network....funny that!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: About turn?

It's true, it will stop THEM in investing in the network. The money will now have to come from elsewhere, not just BT Group. So it stands to reason the money will now be coming from elsewhere i.e other CP''s. Wonder how long it will be before their charges are now passed onto the end user!

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Re: About turn?

"The money will now have to come from elsewhere, not just BT Group"

Yes, and BT's claim is that a fully separated Openreach wouldn't be able to raise the money.

The reality is rather different, as the New Zealand experience shows:

Openreach is a good commercial risk - infrastructure and outside plant has a long service life. NZ's Chorus had its credit rating boosted by the split there.

The rest of BTG is a poor credit risk - electronic devices have short service lives and no residual value. NZ's Spark (BTW/BTR equivalent) had its credit rating downgraded within months of the split there and downgraded again a while later.

BT is terrified of losing Openreach and the lines business because it's both the anchor for its credit rating and income from Openreach is heavily subsidising the other business units (Openreach's actual running costs vs the on-paper ones are a bit like the ones of Starbucks - lots of money is being syphoned away on branding and licensing fees. Accountants can trivially make 1+1=3 or 4+4 = 3 given enough incentive, just ask Bernie Madoff's ones.

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Don't count your chickens

On current form, an "engineering team" is nine managers and a guy from Poland er I mean India.

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Anonymous Coward

The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

The Elephant in the room to the new virtualised Openreach are the "practical realities" of PIA (Physical Infrastructure access) by altnets/other Telcos that limit rollout (for practical/interference reasons) to Fibre/FTTP installatons only, whereas BT Group technologies will be allowed to continue rollout of "cheaper" G.fast Hybrid Copper Technologies. This is completely unfair.

I don't see how the new Openreach can be allowed to continue to rollout of BT Group's Copper Hybrid G.fast, as this is clearly biased in BT's favour, when Openreach has the legal status now of treating all of it's customers equally.

The problem being, if any altnet (as WarwickNet have done) uses FTTC/Vectoring within the local loop first, this prevents G.fast/FTTC Vectoring being rolled out by any other Telco (i.e BT G.fast) within the same local loop.

That particular local loop is effectively "owned" by whichever Telco gets its hybrid copper vectoring technology up and running first. BT can't roll out G.fast in exchange areas where WarwickNet has FTTC/Vectoring and vice versa.

i.e. The Important point that Ofcom seems to have missed, is you can't have two or more Telcos running FTTC/Vectoring using PIA access rules, on the same local loop.

It doesn't seem fair that altnets roll outs using physical infrastructure access, will be forced to go the more expensive route (in BT's own words) of FTTP, when BT Hybrid Copper technology will be still be allowed which prevents other telcos from using the same such technology, once BT have installed this first.

i.e. I believe these new jobs are to get G.fast rolled out as quickly as possible so BT can cement its position, preventing competitors using any copper technologies within the local loop due to the interference it will cause to BT's own G.fast.

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Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

I am not really understanding what you are saying. Do you mean that if someone gets FTTP installed in an exchange no other Telco can then do either FTTP or FTTC in that local exchange and BT are rolling FTTP out to take control of exchanges? I think I have it wrong but maybe you could explain a bit more?

It wouldn't surprise me if BT have outfoxed Ofcom again - they have been running rings round them for over 30 years.

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Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

WarwickNET (as an example-I have no link to them) has rolled out FTTC (Fibre to its own cabinet-Hybrid Copper Fibre) using the BTOpenreach access rules of PIA to ducts and poles, but (importantly) also has implemented newer vectoring technology (one of the first Telcos to do this).

Where WarwickNET has done this already, they effectively "own" that local loop in terms of "cheaper" FTTC/G.fast technologies. No other Telco (including BT) can then roll out G.fast Technology within the same local loop, because of the interference issues between two lots of competiting G.fast/vectoring technologies.

There is no equipment - Huawei etc, out there that syncs the signals of competiting FTTC/Vectoring/G.fast based equipment within the same local loop, to allow the two Telcos equipment to work side by side.

You can't physically have two different Telco operators installing their own copper based FTTC/Vectoring technologies with the same single local loop, one will interfere with the other. Whoever installs FTTC Vectoring Technology/G.fast first prevents any other Telco from using the same type of hybrid copper technology.

In those situations, the only way the second Telco can compete is by rolling out (expensive-in BT's own words) pure FTTP. The second Telco wouldn't be able to use (cheaper-in BT's own words) technologies and PIA access to Poles/Ducts to use the existing copper technologies, connected to their own equipment.

Hence why BT wants to move quickly to getFTTC Vectoring/G.fast in place, before the Regulator Ofcom realises its massive "Elephant in the Room" mistake. The rules are completely biased in favour of G.fast/BT's Hybrid Copper technologies, by allowing BT to continue to rollout such tech.

Hence why BT should not be permitted to rollout FTTC Vectoring/G.fast until this has been resolved, as it means Openreach operating outside its legal status to treat all customers fairly/equally.

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Meh

Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

It wouldn't surprise me if BT have outfoxed Ofcom again - they have been running rings round them for over 30 years.

The limitation is technical. G.FAST mandates something called vectoring. For VDSL it's optional. In simple terms it's like noise cancelling headphones but for DSL signals. The problem is that it requires the DSLAM generating the DSL signals to know all the data being sent down all the lines so that it can predict the raw wave forms and calculate how to modify them to minimise interference. If two independent DSLAMs are sending signals down wires in the same bundle then vectoring is going to be compromised unless they talk to each other. Now I'm not saying that you couldn't link two DSLAMs like that but it'd require a rare degree of cooperation between the owners.

Luckily it's not as bad as the OP portrays. For one thing no technology that supports VDSL is ever installed in exchanges. For one thing it's not allowed due to concerns over interference. For another the technologies concerned work best on short lines which is why both of them are installed in street side cabinets. The link back from there to the exchange is Ethernet over fibre so interference is not a problem.

The only problem really is pointless duplication of media. We should get one entity to lay the cables then use GEA to separate out the data at the exchange. Exactly what Openreach currently does with FTTC and FTTP. I think all we need is Openreach to pull its finger out. An alternative would be a consortium where whoever lays the cable provides a wholesale service for other CPs. Sadly I think that again leaves us stuck with an Openreach 'monopoly' because only OR has the funds to tolerate other CPs piggy backing off their investment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

AndrueC,

You missing the point that two Telco can't compete using PIA rules of access to ducts/poles using copper based FTTC/Vectoring technologies when

a) BT has rolled out G.fast/Vectoring first.

b) Another Telco as in WarwickNet has rolled out its own FTTC/Vectoring first.

, within that particular local loop. Which means BT will effectively "own" all local loops where G.fast is rolled out, and the only way another Telco could compete is by rolling out (expensive - in BT's own words) pure FTTP. The second Telco wouldn't have the option of competiting using cheaper copper based FTTC/Vectoring technology. It completely skews things in favour of BT.

The only way another Telco could compete in those circumstances is by rolling out more expensive pure FTTP technologies to compete. There is not a level playing field here.

BT has announcd rollout plans of 10m customers connected to G.fast Technologies, this is in direct conflict with Openreach's newly found legal status of treating all customers equally/fairly. This matter needs urgent attention by Ofcom, and shows complete inemptness in not picking up on the technical issues relating to rollout of G.fast in terms of competition/interference it will cause to other Telco equipment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

"The limitation is technical"

Typical BT Apologist Statement.

The limtation might be "technical" but given there is no FTTC/Vectoring/G.fast equipment out there by Huawei or anyone else that permits two Telcos to compete on the same local loop, using similar copper based technologies, I'd argue that limitation is actually a physical real one, with no easy solution.

BT will effectively 'own' that local loop once G.fast is installed, in terms of Copper based technologies, even where other Telcos have the ability to utilise PIA physical Ducts and Poles.

This is about BT cementing its hold on the local loop, using G.fast/Vectoring Technologies. G.fast rollout should be stopped now until this is properly resolved by Ofcom, because apathy will set once G.fast is rolled out, in due to obfuscated, bamboozled, more of the same "up to" Broadband speeds it offers.

It will be very difficult to move away from the stickyness of G.fast going forward, and BT know this. BT should be forced to only be able to rollout out FTTP.

Because of this, all G.fast rollout should be now subject to getting separate quotes from Alt-nets/other Telcos for competiting FTTC/FTTP rollouts in each local loop area, so that Openreach operates within its legal status, due to the fact other Telco can't compete with G.fast using copper technologies once BT's G.fast is installed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

Running rings around Ofcom? I think you are muddling up your CP''s. ..pretty sure that's the other whingy, whining lot, GobGob, or something along those lines!

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Re: The Elephant in the room - PIA / FTTC/Vectoring by two or more Telcos.

"That particular local loop is effectively "owned" by whichever Telco gets its hybrid copper vectoring technology up and running first. BT can't roll out G.fast in exchange areas where WarwickNet has FTTC/Vectoring and vice versa."

It's interesting that BT rolled out and pulled back vectoring.

The reason given by Openreach linesmen is that the vectoring-capable equipment has only half the density of the non-vectoring stuff (64 customers per DSLAM module vs 128)

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WTF?

"And now we have more good news – we’re now able to hire to invest in our network."

So this seems to suggest that up until last week they weren't allowed to invest in their network, or recruit staff?

It appears to be a bit strange, to me...

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"And now we have more good news – we’re now able to hire to invest in our network"

And now the bad news...we'll be passing the costs for this on, and ultimately it will hit the end user in the pocket

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Boffin

If I were a BT customer* I'd be much more willing to pay for better network infrastructure and the people to run it than on buying the TV rights to football matches.

*Directly or indirectly via another ISP.

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Anonymous Coward

But, erm, who else would you expect to pay the staff costs?

I don't think it's controversial that a business uses revenues from customers buying things to pay the staff.

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"I'd be much more willing to pay for better network infrastructure and the people to run it than on buying the TV rights to football matches."

I'm happy that BT bought the TV rights to football matches and so should you!

This is because for BT to get a return on this outlay/investment they need to get as many people as possible on to their 'fibre' services and subscribing to their TV service. If Sky had retained the TV rights, there would have been little direct incentive for BT/OR to get 'fibre' services out to a wide audience...

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Rol

A little off topic, but....

Just been reading about how our old age pensioners are being shafted on telephone rental charges and thought I'd throw an idea at you all.

I transferred my landline telephone number to a voip service and now use my phone as normal, but at a third of the cost. And along with several other benefits such as free calls 24/7, free 0800, free 0345, free hidden caller blocking, I have never looked back.

Sure I need a broadband service to connect it, but I could just as easily have negotiated with a friendly neighbour to borrow a smidgeon of their bandwidth every now and again.

Well, my suggestion is to adopt a pensioner, or indeed any deserving soul who lives near you, and help them stay connected to friends and family, at a vastly reduced cost to what the usual telephony companies are offering.

All they need, apart from a phone, of course, is a wifi with lan, which are available at about £15. The voip provider I'm with charges a one off fee of £15 for their gubbins and set-up and then £8 a month.

So for about £30 the hard done to pensioner across the road can stay in touch for a quarter, if not a third of the price.

And let's not forget, until that incy wincy phone in your back pocket gets ten times larger and ten times simpler, mobile phones will not be an option for squinty eyed, arthritic folk.

Go on. I know you're all a nice bunch of people and spreading some kindness every now and again is good for the soul.

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Re: A little off topic, but....

Actually, there are mobile phones made especially for people with poor eyesight and stiff fingers. My elderly Mum has one, and to be honest it's been a surprise how well she's taken to it.

Mind you, she does occasionally press the "help" button by accident when putting it into.getting it out of her handbag and then we all get tests saying she's pressed the help button. That's a tradeoff between making it hard enough to press that it won't happen accidentally, and easy enough that someone can press it when they need to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A little off topic, but....

"she does occasionally press the "help" button by accident when putting it into.getting it out of her handbag and then we all get tests saying she's pressed the help button."

It's good to test these things occasionally, so well done to *everybody* in the picture you paint.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A little off topic, but....

Most Pensioners want that BT phone line because (to put it bluntly) when death shows its ugly face, they can make a call in an emergency. I don't think it's price related, its peace of mind for them and it needs to "just always work" & be simple.

Hence, why Ofcom want to prevent price-gouging of what is in effect, something of a necessity for such vunerable people. 4 digit precodes i.e. 1899.com etc, or a cheap PAYG mobile is generally a better route to make cheap calls, but they have to remember to keep the PAYG mobile 'active'. Ofcom should mandate a Sim Card that doesn't expire, if there is credit on the sim, for such purposes, say to anyone 65 and older, or of ill health.

Maybe issue a non expiry Mobile SIM for such purposes, to the Disabled blue badge scheme holders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A little off topic, but....

Or they could just get BT Basic for £5 per month

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A little off topic, but....

Can your solution be used where the OAP (I'm one myself so I can use it) needs to have an alarm system (for falls and the like) available 24/7. AFAIK, BT is supposed to give priority to fixing faults where these are services are in use.

My mother has one of these. A pure mobile solution is out as she only gets 1 bar at the best of times (EE, 3 and Voda networks check) i.e. in the winter. In the summer you have to be in one upstairs bedroom, with the window open and holding the phone outside the house to even get that.

The landline works barring a tree falling on the Overhead Line that is.

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And in other news...

Openreach announces 1500 engineers are to be made redundant....

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Anonymous Coward

National company announces hiring of 1500 staff, why are people grumbling so much ? I assume all the moaners have children in full time well paid jobs already, that must be the reason. Anything which keeps people away from Macky Dees and the like should be applauded.

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BT hires 1500 Engineers.....

Hammer makers start looking at luxury cars, exotic holidays and new houses

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Anonymous Coward

Does this mean...

...No more BT OpenReach subcontractors?

I am sick to the back teeth of having to clean up after what I can only describe as 'shitstorms' when they've been and gone. At their worst, I had a Kelly Communications 'engineer' (Use that term loosely) who came to provision and install a PSTN/FTTC SIM provide from Zen. He somehow managed to mangle 3 separate PSTN lines into one socket and left the client with no dial tone (On all 3 lines) and no FTTC... these guys are absolute charlatans. (Some, not all - Also as I understand it after chatting to one of the 'good guys', it appears they get paid about £30-40 per 'shout', whether they do a good job or not so are encouraged to bash out as many as humanly possible in a day). That's not to say that BT's own workforce are always competent, but I haven't had anywhere near as many bad experiences as with the subbies....

Hopefully this will calm down a bit if they're going on a recruitment drive.

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