BT says fibre and sports TV investments are coming good
Strong demand for superfast broadband services and the continuing appeal of its sports television channels boosted BT’s third quarter revenues to £4.6 billion as UK ISPs added a record 339,000 new and upgrading customers to the open access Openreach fibre network.
BT itself was responsible for around 226,000, a third of which were entirely new customers, increasing its fibre customer base to 1.9 million and the number of premises served by Openreach to 2.4 million.
In total, 252,000 entirely new customers were added to the Openreach copper and fibre networks, bringing the Openreach total to 18.238 million premises and BT’s total customer base to 7.1 million.
BT reported profits of £617 million before tax, an increase of six percent, however while revenues for the nine months leading up to December 2013 were flat at £13.6 billion, pre-tax profits were down by seven percent. BT CEO Gavin Patterson is convinced that the company’s continued investment in fibre and premium sports rights is justified.
“Our strategic investments are delivering. It was another record quarter for fibre take-up and there are now more than 18 million premises with access to our fibre,” he said. “That number will grow further as the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme progresses.
“Fibre helps SMEs to compete and underpins our TV plans. Our direct BT Sport customer base passed 2.5 million in the quarter and helped to support 6% revenue growth in our Consumer business. We achieved some particularly strong audience figures in December and the exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League that we have won will further strengthen the appeal of our proposition.”
BT has so far won all of the government funding available under BDUK and a number of projects have started to go live with 300,000 homes and businesses now having access to fibre as a direct result of the initiative.
The scheme has come under scrutiny because of the company’s heavy involvement, but outgoing Openreach CEO Liv Garfield has defended BT’s role in the roll-out, calling it “massively frustrating” to have to deal with criticism because in her opinion, it was going quite well.
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