Time To Sort Out BT

I once heard a tale from a very senior person at BT that, every time a new government came in, determined to do something about their monopoly and pisspoor service, they would send a few people in dark suits down to No 10 to explain how they ran the country’s infrastructure. One of those suits inevitably came from GCHQ.

The government of the day would hear the pitch and demure.

It seems much the same conversations go on around the wld these days with the pseudostate companies such as Facebook and Google.

Forget ‘too big to fail’ and try ‘to important to fail’.

BT is the UK’s biggest tech business, but does not really compete on a global stage any more.

The last CEO was photogenic but useless, ruling a sprawling empire (which, to be fair, he largely inherited) with the wheels coming off all over the place.

As a consumer I have a view in BT. However, I write as an investor - I would like to see:

BT Open Reach / Wholesale and the backbone business rolled out into a totally separate business, which should consider acquiring Arqiva and other similar businesses and then seek to compete in developing markets where China’s state controlled Huawei are dominating. This part of BT is our current British East India company in waiting. They will, not doubt be regulated in the home market and retain those spooks in suits, but there are hug opportunities to build, run and manage 5G networks globally.

BT TV - again rolled out as a separate company or division, acquiring ITV and taking control of BritBox. The acquisitions dept should make global rights purchases, especially for sports, and syndicate the content, plugging gaps with their own services. The service would offer apps for all the platforms that Netflix supports - not just the bloody awful Google Chromecast (how an you pin your business on this lousy tech ?).

BT Retail - should expand, especially online, to compete with Amazon and Currys with a much wider range of products, perhaps tied into a superior service offering (let us set up your Sonos system...). Retail stores could act as exhibition slots for tech companies and provide a halo effect. A contract division could work with developers to IoT enhance new builds. There’s no reason this couldn’t be internationalised.

BT Networks - would roll up EE and BT Broadband into a unified FTTP / 5G network. There would be a separate business division.

BT Labs - for so long, BT innovated, especially from their base in Martlesham. BT Labs would develop cloud services - and perhaps even offering a low cost platform by acquiring the likes of Digital Ocean - plus an ecosystem of developers and partners. This would need a VC component to find bright new ideas from one of the most vibrant and innovative marketplaces on earth.

Or BT can continue to blackmail government, Rio off its customers and offer the worst TV viewing experience ever.