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BT revenue up 2% on broadband and BT Sport Europe

BT reports rising demand for broadband services and BT Sport Europe, which has helped add a record number of BT TV customers in the past quarter

BT has reported revenue of £4.38bn for the quarter ending 30 September 2015, beating analysts’ expectations of £4.3bn and up 2% on the previous quarter, driven by broadband and TV earnings.

The positive news comes as BT gears up for a planned £12.5bn acquisition of mobile network operator EE.

BT said earnings before tax and deductions of £1.44bn were down 1%, which reflected the group’s investment in its BT Sport Europe TV channel.

“We’ve seen good demand for BT Sport Europe and this has helped us add a record number of BT TV customers in the quarter,” said BT chief Gavin Patterson. “Its contribution has been better than we expected, helping drive a 7% increase in BT consumer revenue.”

BT won the bidding war for the rights to Uefa football matches, which include the Champions League, in a £897m deal, beating off competition from Sky Sports. It has also paid millions for Premier League Saturday evening rights, according to the International Business Times.

Patterson also ascribed the better than expected revenue for the quarter to earnings from BT’s fibre broadband services.

“Fibre broadband is a success story and we continue to invest heavily to help the UK remain a broadband leader among major European nations.  

“Our open access fibre network now passes 24 million premises and we are not stopping there. We want to get fibre broadband to as many people as possible and we are also pushing ahead with our plans to get ultrafast broadband to 10 million premises by the end of 2020,” he said.

According to Patterson, demand for fibre remains strong, with net fibre customer additions up 21% and the company hitting the 5 million milestone for number of homes and businesses connected.

Big numbers

BT separately released figures showing that 160,000 new customers had joined the Openreach network (copper and fibre) during the quarter, bringing the total Openreach broadband base to more than 19.6 million; retail customers make up around 40% of that total.

Fibre broadband was also made available to a further 700,000 homes and business in the quarter, which means the Openreach fibre network passes more than 24 million homes and businesses – over 80% of the UK total.

Openreach added 415,000 fibre customers during the quarter across all service providers, up 21% compared with the same period a year ago. It brings the total number of Openreach fibre broadband customers to around 5 million, with 21% of homes and business able to access it.

Some 212,000 customers were added by BT’s retail divisions, taking its total fibre customer base to more than 3.4 million homes and businesses. Around 44% of BT’s retail broadband customers are now taking a fibre service. 

Many customers upgrade from copper to fibre, so do not count as completely new customers, BT noted.

Competition all-clear

Patterson said he was pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority had provisionally and unconditionally approved BT’s planned acquisition of EE.

The CMA decided the deal would not cause significant harm to competition in any of 10 markets investigated, despite concerns among rivals about BT’s control of connections for mobile masts and wholesale mobile capacity for virtual networks.

Patterson said BT was making “step changes” to improve customer service, as part of a group-wide programme. 

“Openreach’s recently launched View My Engineer service is going down well. The 3,000 engineers we hired in the last 18 months are helping us fix faults faster and provide new services sooner,” he said.

Patterson added that BT had created more than 1,000 new contact centre jobs in the UK, with “hundreds more” to come to meet the company’s 2016 commitment for more than 80% of its consumer calls to be answered in the UK.  

“Our strategy is delivering, and our results show we’re on track to achieve our outlook for the year,” he said.

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