BT is to create up to 7,000 jobs as it ups the pace of the multibillion pound rollout of a national next-generation, broadband network to 25m UK premises by 2026.
The telecoms giant, which reported a 23% drop in pre-tax profits to £1.8bn last year as businesses used less of its services during pandemic lockdowns, had previously targeted rolling out full-fibre broadband to 20m premises. BT said it will consider a joint venture partnership to fund the rollout to the extra 5m homes.
The company has pledged £12bn to address the UK’s status as a global laggard in full-fibre broadband, and fulfil Boris Johnson’s election promise of getting next-generation broadband speeds to all homes in the UK.
“BT is already building more full-fibre broadband to homes and businesses than anyone else in the UK,” said Philip Jansen, the chief executive of BT. “It will get fibre to more people, including in rural communities. And it will help fuel UK economic recovery, with better connectivity and up to 7,000 new jobs.”
The new jobs, which will mostly be engineering roles at its Openreach subsidiary that builds and runs the UK’s broadband network, comes as BT presses on with a restructuring of its business to ultimately reduce staff numbers by 13,000.
The company also announced that its triennial pension valuation has assessed the company’s pension deficit at just under £8bn, as at June last year, about £1.5bn less than its last valuation. BT has agreed a long-term payment plan with its pension trustees.
“This agreement keeps us on track for zero funding deficit by 2030,” said Simon Lowth, BT’s finance chief.
BT also confirmed that it is to reinstate its dividend, which was halted for two years at the start of the pandemic, at 7.7p for its 2021-22 financial year.