BT had a mixed quarter, buoyed up mainly by TV subscriptions - and it has taken its results announcement as an opportunity to shore up its broadband position.
Revenue to for the first quarter of financial year 2016, ending June 30th, at £4.28bn, down two per cent overall. There was a six per cent drop in revenue from Global Services, a two per cent drop in BT Business but a three per cent increase in consumer and one per cent increase in wholesale.
Openreach was essentially flat having only made £4m more this year than in the same quarter last year.
Gavin Patterson, BT's chief exec, had an obligatory canned quote: “This is an exciting time at BT. We continue to invest heavily in our superfast fibre broadband network. It now reaches around 80 per cent of all UK premises and we will work with government to help take fibre broadband to 95 per cent of the country by the end of 2017. Our technical trials of ultrafast broadband using G.fast are progressing well; we’re on target to start large-scale customer trials this summer.”
He continued: “We have also invested further in improving customer service and Openreach is running ahead of all 60 minimum service levels set by Ofcom for this year. And we are engaging with Ofcom as part of its Strategic Review of Digital Communications which offers scope for deregulation and the potential to create a more level playing field in pay-TV.
The growth in its mobile base is particularly impressive given the lack of advertising for the service. The company has recently announced that it will include calls to BT Mobile phones in the minutes bundles for BT landline customers.
Stopping just short of saying “please, please, please don’t hive off Openreach”, BT has released stats on its broadband take-up, showing a major switch from copper to fibre. The company says that 44 per cent (172,000) of new fibre customers took a service from providers other than BT’s retail division and that this is a 50 per cent increase on last year.
149,000 new customers joined the Openreach broadband network during the quarter. Of that number, 85,000 (57 per cent) of new customers chose one of BT’s retail divisions, which brings the total Openreach broadband base to more than 19.4m. The total BT Retail broadband base was just short of 7.8m subscribers at the end of the quarter.
Only 15 per cent of premises have fibre broadband from BT but the the move to fibre is accelerating, although it’s worth noting that this is fibre to the cabinet; BT doesn’t break out speeds to give fibre to the premises figures.
The company says that the Openreach fibre network now passes more than 23 million homes and businesses – that’s four out of five premises, or around 80 per cent of the UK. Openreach added an additional 389,000 fibre customers during the quarter across all providers. That’s 14 per cent more than the 341,000 added during the same period last year and means that around 41 per cent of our retail broadband customers are now taking a fibre service. ®