BT chief executive Graham Sutherland is keen to keep expanding the telecoms market
How long has BT been operating in Northern Ireland?
BT is the world's oldest communications company, with a direct line of descent from the first national telecommunications undertaking in the world.
The Electric Telegraph Company incorporated in 1846, was the first anywhere to develop a nationwide communications network exploiting leading edge telegraphy technology.
Do you have any plans for expansion?
We are investing in areas that help us meet our customers’ requirements. For example, we are advancing our communications network across Northern Ireland. We are introducing innovative services such as cloud services for business and government organisations, and BT Vision with Sky Sports for consumers.
How has the recession impacted on BT? What are the main cost savings which BT has made during the past two and a half years of downturn?
The economic downturn has had an impact on BT, but not all of it has been negative.
Yes, there has been a slowdown in business activity and our revenues remain under pressure, but there is still market demand and our task is to help customers get good value, innovative packages to suit their requirements. We also acted very quickly at the outset and successfully balanced rigorous cost transformation programmes with strategic investments to make our Northern Ireland business more sustainable.
Have you launched any new initiatives to combat the |current challenges?
Our capital investment has actually increased year on year in Northern Ireland, and one example of how we are ‘spending to save’ is the new TelePresence technology we’ve had installed in |our offices. It is ultra high quality video and audio conferencing and is reducing our travel time and costs, as well as increasing productivity.
It’s a competitive marketplace with plenty of choice for business and residential customers, how do you win business?
We are innovating on products and pricing, diversifying our customer service to include, for example, digital care channels to interact with customers, creative marketing and having the right people with the right skills caring for our customers’ needs.
How do your latest sales figures for Northern Ireland for residential and business broadband and landline respectively compare to last year?
Broadband sales continue to rise as more and more people harness the power of faster broadband — particularly fibre-based broadband — at home and at work. In terms of landlines, the major trend we are experiencing is customers signing up for ‘bundles’ where they get their landline, calls, broadband and BT Vision, for example, in one package from one company.
What does BT believe the effect will be on its business of the cuts to Northern Ireland's budget?
It is still too early to comment in detail, but we will be working closely with the Government to see how we can support them, and to offer learnings from our own cost transformation journey.