Scandinavia ‘way ahead’ of UK in telco infrastructure, says BT CEO  


The newly appointed CEO blamed planning setbacks for the state of UK infrastructure 


BT CEO Allison Kirkby has said that the Scandinavian countries are “way ahead” of the UK in terms of its telecoms infrastructure. 

Speaking at the Deloitte and Enders media and telecoms conference in London this week, Kirby said: “What I would say is Scandinavia is way ahead of the UK. Part of that is very much driven by the regulatory environment, the planning environment and the general adoption of digital skills and digital services.” 

BT have plans to deploy undertake what it calls a ‘monumental change to the UK’s communication infrastructure” by deploying ultrafast fibre broadband to 25 million premises by 2026, hoping to reach 30 million by the end of the decade. 

Kirkby emphasised that it’s not the market structure that is preventing the development of UK networks, but the red tape surrounding the planning. She then called on the UK government to improve “regulatory and fiscal policy certainty”. 

“The Swedes, the Norwegians, the Finnish all expected their highways, their trains, to have great connectivity wherever you were, even when you were up in the northern part of the country. A lot of what is not working in the UK is the planning legislation.” 

Last month, the company released its financial results for the full year to 31 March 2024. Revenue stood at £20.8 billion, up 1% from the same time last year, but profits took a hit, with pre-tax profits falling 31% to £1.18 billion. Openreach’s FTTP deployment rate reached 1 million homes in the last quarter, working out at like 78,000 premises per week. 

The CEO of Three Robert Finnegan also attended the conference and took the opportunity to once again plug the upcoming potential Vodafone–Three merger. Finnegan emphasised that if the venture does not get approved, it will mean less investment in UK infrastructure and customers would end up “short changed.” 

The £15 billion merger received conditional approval from the UK government last month. A separate investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is ongoing, with its results expected by September. 

Join the conversation around UK connectivity at this year’s Connected Britain, 11-12 September in London. Get discounted tickets here! 

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