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BT moots ‘Uber for Openreach engineers’ service

In the future, you might not have to sit around wondering where that Openreach engineer who should be installing superfast broadband has got to.  

Joe Garner, the Openreach chief executive, has unveiled plans to shake up the network arm of BT which could see the introduction of a ‘View my Engineer’ service.

Like popular cabbie-baiting app-driven service Uber, this would give customers an idea of their engineer’s whereabouts via their phone. Customers would be able to get text updates on progress as well as get hold of the engineer’s mobile number. 

As only a number of Openreach vans are also fitted with GPS equipment – around 75 per cent at the last count – it’s unlikley that you’ll be able to get an Uber-style Google Maps view pinpointing the exact location of your engineer, at least in the short term.  

All the same, ISPs using BT’s Openreach network could use this information to power a series of apps aimed at letting their customers know how long it’ll take for an engineer to visit.

Right now it’s possible for customers ordering superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services to self-install, although this is an option the less tech-savvy might want to skip. Because engineers require access to a customer’s house to complete installation and make sure the line is working, people who can’t work from home need to take a day off work, which is one reason why no-shows or late arrivals are frustrating.

As well as mooting ‘View My Engineer’, Garner also said that BT wants to go far and beyond the installation and repair wait time deadlines imposed on it by telecoms regulator Ofcom. 

From July 2014 onwards, Openreach has been required to hit a number of targets set by Ofcom. New customers of all ISPs using BT’s network – that’s TalkTalk, EE, Zen, Sky, AAISP, Direct Save and many more – need to be connected within 12 working days. Faults and repairs need to be patched up within two. 

Garner said BT has exceeded all targets so far, thanks in part to boosting the ranks of Openreach engineers up to 3,000 since 2012

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