BT to convert 2,000 payphones into advertising screens

BT is to convert payphones into digital hubs in more than 200 towns and cities across the UK.

The telecoms company has formed a 10-year partnership with outdoor media company Global to upgrade up to 2,000 conventional BT payphones and kiosks into Street Hubs, starting in 2025. Street Hubs are digital units that provide public Wi-Fi and hyper-local advertising — with some also extending EE’s mobile network capability to provide 4G and 5G connectivity.

Global will continue to manage BT’s 959 existing Street Hubs, and BT will continue to provide mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity to the units.

The modern Street Hub 2 units provide secure connectivity at speeds of up to 1Gbps within a 150-metre radius, as well as a dedicated 999 calling button, USBs for free device charging, and touch-screen tablets displaying real-time public information. They also feature large screens to open up digital, street-level advertising for businesses.

“BT’s payphones have long been an iconic feature on the UK’s streets — and with the way we all communicate changing, today’s announcement marks a further step into the future,” said Bas Burger, chief executive of BT’s business unit. “There are already almost 1,000 modern digital Street Hubs bringing communication benefits to local communities across the UK. By bringing together BT’s rock-solid connectivity with Global’s unrivalled expertise in out-of-home advertising, we can almost triple this number over the next decade.”

BT to cut up to 55,000 jobs by 2030

Telecoms group BT has revealed plans to reduce its workforce by as much as 42% over the next seven years.

Announcing its annual results, the company said it expected its “total labour resource” — including BT employees and contractors — to shrink from the current 130,000 to between 75,000 and 90,000 by the end of the decade.

Once BT’s full fibre broadband and 5G networks are completed, it will not need as many staff to build and maintain the network. Meanwhile, fewer customer service staff will be needed as their roles will be replaced by technologies including artificial intelligence. Further job cuts will come from restructuring.

“By continuing to build and connect like fury, digitise the way we work and simplify our structure, by the end of the 2020s BT Group will rely on a much smaller workforce and a significantly reduced cost base,” said chief executive Philip Jansen. “New BT Group will be a leaner business with a brighter future.”

For the 12 months to the end of March 2023, BT reported a 1% drop in revenue to £20.7bn.

Adjusted EBITDA grew 5% year-on-year to £7.9bn — its first growth in six years — but pre-tax profit fell 12% to £1.7bn, which the company attributed to “increased depreciation from network build and specific items, partially offset by adjusted EBITDA growth”.

BT commits to extending UK broadband to minimum speed of 5-10 Megabits per second

Telecoms giant BT announced on Tuesday that it aims to provide a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10 Megabits per second (Mbps) for every home and business in the UK, ensuring Britain’s future prosperity as the G20’s leading digital economy.

In a speech at the company’s Delivering Britain’s Digital Future conference in London, BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said that BT is committed to tackling slow speeds in hard-to-reach parts of the country and achieving a step-change in speeds overall, with ultrafast rollout starting next year, as well as improving customer service through a number of commitments announced by its infrastructure division Openreach.

According to a report from Ofcom, 90% of UK premises already access fibre broadband, which places the UK top of the EU’s largest countries.

Patterson commented: “For the past five years, the UK has been the largest digital economy in the G20, by percentage of GDP. We think the UK has an even brighter future ahead if we make the right decisions today. We want to forge an ultrafast future for Britain and stand ready to help government deliver the broadband speeds necessary for every property to enjoy modern day internet services, such as high definition TV streaming and cloud computing. To achieve this, we need a collaborative effort across industry and government.”

BT is committed to support the UK government in delivering a new universal minimum broadband speed of 5-10Mbps, providing enough for everyone in the UK to enjoy Internet services such as high definition video. BT also aims introduce a satellite broadband service for some of the UK’s more remote premises by the end of the year.

In addition, Patterson stated that supportive regulatory and government policy environment is necessary to bring about a commercially viable investment. He also mentioned that new technologies are being developed at BT’s Adastral Park research laboratories, designed to help boost slow speeds for many hard-to-reach premises. This research also includes tests on new technologies such as “wireless to the cabinet” and “long reach VDSL”, to help bring higher speed broadband to hard-to-reach communities.

The UK is also expected to exceed the government’s current target of 95% for fibre availability, as a result of “success dividend” clauses in contracts covering rollout co-funded by BT, Whitehall and local councils. These clauses mean BT has to reinvest or return money if take-up exceeds certain levels in areas where public funds have been used. A sum of GBP130m is already being released and is potentially available to get the UK towards having fibre available at 96% of premises. 

Patterson also revealed plans to supply fibre broadband for all new housing developments, either through BT’s own efforts or in cooperation with developers. He went on to say that BT’s new ultrafast broadband services of 300-500Mbps would reach 10m homes and smaller businesses by the end of 2020, and the majority of premises within a decade.