BroadbandNetworks

BT Now Has 4.5m Fibre Broadband And 17.6m 4G Subscribers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT is boosted by EE and fibre but other providers secure more than half of Openreach superfast additions for the first time

More fibre broadband customers were added to the Openreach network by providers other than BT for the first time during the second quarter of 2016.

BT added 216,000 new fibre users during the period, less than half of the 440,000 added to Openreach.

The news is timely given the ongoing debate about the future governance structure of the open access network division and how much control BT should have, but the company still exerts considerable dominance.

BT has 4.5 million fibre users in total – a huge proportion of the 6.7 million total subscribers on Openreach- and also added two thirds of the 76,000 entirely new subscribers (both fibre and copper) in Q2.

Openreach fibre covers 28 million UK premises, or 92 percent of the UK population, meaning a quarter of all homes and business passed have taken up superfast services.

BT broadband dominance

EE BT SportIn terms of 4G, EE and BT Mobile signed up 280,000 new users in the period. BT’s total mobile subscriber base now stands at 30.2 million, of which 17.6 million is 4G. LTE coverage has reached 70% of the UK landmass and 98 percent of the UK population and 500 sites will have 360Mbps speeds next year.

The prospect of Brexit and the spectre of Ofcom’s communications review appears to have had limited impact on BT’s finances. Quarterly revenues are up 35 percent to £6 billion and pre-tax profits are £671 million, up five percent.

Aforementioned gains in the broadband sector and in TV propelled consumer revenues up 11 percent to £1.3 billion, while BT Global Services income rose by 16 percent to £1.4 billion and business and public sector jumped 15 percent to £1.2 billion. However this latter category was largely driven by contracts won in the EE takeover.

“Our consumer facing lines of business have performed well, but in the enterprise space, UK public sector continues to be a challenging market,” admitted CEO Gavin Patterson.

Network investments

bt-k6-red-phone-box-2BT has promised to bring ‘ultrafast’ broadband of up to 500Mbps using a combination of G.Fast, which speeds up copper connections, and fibre to the premise to 12 million properties by the end of the decade and the “majority of the UK” by 2025.

It is pressing ahead with 17 trials of G.Fast, including in London, meaning half a million properties will have access to ultrafast by the end of next year. EE has also committed to 95 percent UK landmass coverage by 2020 too.

“Customer experience remains a key priority, and we’re stepping up our investments in the second half of the year,” concluded Patterson. “And we’ll continue to invest in our ultrafast and 4G plans in 2017 and beyond.

“Ofcom’s consultation on the Digital Communications Review closed earlier this month; we’ve submitted our response and will continue to engage with Ofcom to reach the best outcome for the UK.”

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