When he joins in mid-February, Garner will replace Liv Garfield, who quit as CEO of Openreach in November 2013 to take up a new role in the water utilities sector. (See Euronews: Openreach CEO Jumps Ship and Liv Garfield Quits BT Openreach .)
Garner's most recent job was at global banking giant HSBC Bank plc, where he was head of the UK operation. He stepped down from that job in September 2012, reportedly because he was due to move overseas for his next role at the bank but didn't want to leave the UK, according to The Scotsman newspaper.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) believes his experience in retail banking, as well as previous roles at technology retailer Dixons and consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, will have prepared Garner for the Openreach role. "His experience of managing a large regulated business with a substantial workforce will help us as we expand our fibre optic network into rural areas," said BT CEO Gavin Patterson in the operator's official announcement. (See BT FTTx Boosts Cornish SMEs, Euronews: BT Promises 300Mbit/s Broadband, and BT's Openreach Reaches Ethernet Access Milestone .)
Openreach, which provides communications service providers (CSPs, including BT Retail) with fixed access network capabilities and services, is responsible for the operations and rollout of BT's copper and fiber access networks. Those activities have attracted a lot of attention in the past few years as the UK incumbent looks to build out a high-speed fixed access network using fiber and enhanced copper. (See BT Trials Huawei's G.fast for FTTx, BT Preps Its Next FTTx, Core Moves, and Euronews: BT Promises 300Mbit/s Broadband.)
As demand for high-speed connections grows -- for retail, enterprise, and wholesale applications -- so Openreach has found itself in demand but also under pressure. As a result, it has a mixed reputation amongst its user base. Since it was formed in late 2005, Openreach has been widely regarded as providing an adequate and largely fair service to its customers, but in the past year there have been grumbles from multiple CSPs about a decline in service levels, often attributed to Openreach being overstretched by the conditions of large backhaul contracts signed with UK mobile service providers. (See BT Opens Up Access.)
In the six months to the end of September 2013 (the first half of BT's financial year), Openreach generated revenues of nearly £2.52 billion (US$4.13 billion) and an operating profit of £523 million ($857 million).
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading