BT Boasts Broadband Boost Amidst Modest Results

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

BT is more than happy with uptake of its fibre even though it has almost 3 million fewer customers than rival Virgin

Britain’s biggest telecoms company BT posted modest results today, but was still bullish about its fibre uptake, despite being behind rival Virgin in fibre customer numbers.

BT reported a nine percent decline in revenue, which was in line with expectations, hitting £4.4 billion. It would have been a six percent dip if it weren’t for “specific items”, including Ofcom restrictions on how much BT can charge other providers for its Ethernet services, which resulted in a net charge after tax of £38m.

BT broadband bump up

btbuildingThere was a seven percent rise in third-quarter pre-tax profit, which hit £675 million, although when taking on board the “specific items”, the figure slumped to £628 million, down four percent.

Whilst the results were hardly astounding, they beat analyst predictions, leading to a rise in BT’s shares.

Chief executive Ian Livingston was more keen to talk about the company’s fibre push. “More than 13 million premises can access our fibre broadband and we are passing around 100,000 additional premises every week,” he said.

“Our engineers have worked tirelessly following some of the wettest weather on record. Not only did they complete a record number of field visits in the quarter, they also connected a further 281,000 homes and businesses to broadband and helped us grow the number of landlines.”

The total number of customers taking fibre via BT Openreach’s network now stands at 1.25 million, adding 250,000 in the last quarter alone.

Yet rival VIrgin still has millions more fibre customers than BT does. Indeed, Virgin has over four million fibre customers, although it did start building its network before BT.

Overall, BT has lost 125,000 customers, but that includes old lines which people do not need anymore. It’s a customer base that has been in decline for years.

Meanwhile, BT has announced Totally Unlimited Broadband, which will bring zero usage limits and no traffic management for all but its entry-level offerings. The cheapest offering on the Totally Unlimited Broadband lineup is £16 a month for 16Mbps copper broadband. Prior to today, customers could only “go unlimited” if they took a £26 a month option.

“Customers told us that they wanted to be able to enjoy catch-up TV, streamed films and other bandwidth-eating applications without having to worry about going over their limit or being slowed down by their ISP,” said John Petter, managing director of BT’s consumer division.

“But we wanted to make that really affordable too, without the sort of traffic management Virgin Media, TalkTalk or EE customers may find themselves subject to. Unlike Sky, we’re extremely confident that our network can stand up to the extra bandwidth demands from totally unlimited products everywhere across the UK.”

The telecoms giant also announced BT Cloud, an online storage service, which can be accessed over iOS, Android and desktop devices.

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