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BT pledges action on rural broadband

BT pledges action on rural broadband

The chief executive of BT Business has promised to examine the issue of slow or non-existent broadband access for firms in rural Perthshire.

Graham Sutherland said he was “very conscious” of the competitive disadvantage that firms found themselves at if they were unable to access fast, reliable broadband.

The issue, which has long been a major bugbear for small and large businesses operating in parts of Highland Perthshire, was raised during an exclusive interview with The Courier.

Mr Sutherland said he would look into the problem but that significant progress was being made in rolling out the high-speed fibre broadband.

“We are very conscious of this” Mr Sutherland said.

“For companies to be successful, they need to embrace the digital agenda as it can open up a lot of new markets for them.

“We have been working hard to improve the network for a long time and the fibre roll-out is moving at pace across the country.

“In Dundee three quarters of premises can get fibre right now and by the end of 2016 that roll-out will get to roughly 90%.”

Mr Sutherland said the challenge thereafter was making sure the remaining 10% were not left behind.

He said the proposed multi-billion merger with EE, now being scrutinised by the Competitions and Markets Authority, could be key to unlocking the last piece of the broadband jigsaw.

The BT Business is one of the telecom giant’s five main operating divisions and employs around 9,000 staff.

Dundee is BT Business’ largest single service centre with around 400 people based within its call centre at Bell Street.

The unit deals with a mix of service and broadband calls from customers but also handles emergency 999 traffic.

Mr Sutherland said Dundee had been a strong recruitment base for BT and was often used to test new products.

“Dundee is our largest service centre and a great place to trial new things,” Mr Sutherland said.

“We do a lot of multi-skill training to improve technical knowledge and we have found Dundee is a great place to bring people into our business.”

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