New decade will be an exciting time for emerging technologies
THIS has been a big year for the country, and for BT. As well as being the first provider in the UK to launch 5G through EE – including in Belfast – BT announced some huge changes that will have a positive impact for people and businesses in Northern Ireland.
In addition to getting people onto the fastest, most reliable networks, we also want to make sure no one is left behind in this new digital era.
That's why we launched a new digital skills programme Skills for Tomorrow to provide free training to 10 million people, families and businesses. The programme will help provide the skills that the UK needs to make the most of today's connected world. There will be a number of events this year across Northern Ireland.
We introduced a new brand line for BT, ‘Beyond Limits', symbolised by a new logo – the first major change to the logo since 2003. You may have seen it in our new adverts or on the national football teams' latest training kits, thanks to our new deal with the Irish Football Association to become the exclusive lead partner across all the country's national football teams. BT Sport has also won the exclusive live rights to show the Champions League for another three years from 2021 to 2024.
On broadband, we're now connecting more people than ever to super fast fibre products. And, where fibre is available, we've even stopped selling standard broadband connections on the old BT copper network. We'll be upgrading more than 19,000 customers in homes and businesses in Northern Ireland to super fast broadband by summer 2020, at no extra cost.
On customer service, the big news was that BT is returning to the high street for the first time since 2002. Customers can now get support and sales advice face-to-face in one of our 600, dual-branded EE-BT stores across the UK. We also launched a new team of 900 Home Tech Experts who will visit customers in their homes across the UK to help them instal new technology or sort out problems.
We brought forward by a year our plan to return all of our customer call centres to the UK and Ireland, a move we'll complete by January. We know customers are happiest when they speak to someone locally who understands their area. We'll connect customers, wherever possible, to the customer service team that's closest to them in the UK.
BT customers are now more satisfied than ever, they're staying with us longer, and we have fewer complaints. We'll continue to improve, because the services we provide will be in more demand in the future than ever before. The number of smart devices connected in the home is expected to grow from five today, to more than 100 in the next few years.
We're seeing big technological shifts that will affect everyone. Ten years ago, our early broadband offered speeds of around 5 Mbps. Today, our ultra fast fibre service is up to 300 Mbps, up to 10 Gbps for businesses.
As we enter a new decade, this is an exciting time for emerging technologies, which will have a big impact on Northern Ireland.
:: Jane Wood is BT nations and regions director