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'New wave' revenue breaks BT profit fall

BT Group has reported a continued decline in quarterly profits with an 82% drop in fourth-quarter profit, although it said it has stemmed its revenue decline of the previous three quarters.

BT said it had quarterly revenue of £4.787bn, which was a slight improvement over the same quarter last year when it reported revenue of £4.778bn.

For the full year, BT reported revenue of £18.5bn, compared with £18.7bn fo 2003. BT attributed the decline in its yearly figures in part to the UK government's decision to enforce a reduction in mobile termination rates.

Continued quarterly losses in BT's fixed-line business were offset by 38% growth for the quarter in "new wave" revenue, a term the company uses to cover newer technologies such as broadband, mobility and managed services.

Revenue in that sector was £1.1bn, accounting for 23% of BT's total revenue, compared with 16% in the fourth quarter of last year. In particular, BT benefited from its new information technology infrastructure contracts with the NHS, which generated revenue of £77m in the fourth quarter.

For the year, its new wave technologies, pushed mainly by gains in broadband and information and communications technology products and services, grew by 30% to £3.39bn, representing 18% of BT's yearly revenue for 2004, compared with 14% in 2003.

BT said it experienced a 162% increase in its installed base of wholesale broadband lines to 2.45 million for the year. That growth resulted in a 112% jump in broadband revenue to £165m for the quarter and an 107% increase in broadband revenue for the year to £491m.

The company was able to drive down its net debt by 12% from last year to £8.43bn.

Laura Rohde writes for IDG News Service

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