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Back of The Net! – Consumers Prop Up BT

Despite exceeding City forecasts BT has had yet another pretty flat set of financial results for their second quarter ending in September and the half year to date.

Star performance however were on display from BT TV who added a record 106,000 subscribers who were no doubt keen to watch Champions League football. BT is also amassing some pretty good fibre roll out figures and, even ahead of the EE acquisition, piling on mobile customers. All of which is very consumer orientated.

The deal to purchase EE, provisionally approved by the competition watchdog, will strengthen BT’s ability to offer bundled services to customers.

BT’s shares rose to a three-month high of 476 pence.

BT Wholesale, which represents less than 12% of the Group turnover, was 2% down on the quarter though their direct sales team over at BT Business was also down but still accounting for 18% of sales.

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive, commenting on the results, said, “We’ve delivered a good financial performance with revenue up 2% this quarter.

“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 ten million premises by the end of 2020. Market-wide demand for fibre remains strong with fibre net additions up 21% as we hit the five million milestone for homes and businesses connected.

“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. Its contribution has been better than we expected, helping drive a 7% increase in BT Consumer revenue. Mobile is another growth area and I am pleased our consumer customer base now stands at more than 200,000. And I am also pleased that yesterday, the Competition and Markets Authority provisionally approved our planned acquisition of EE, unconditionally without remedies.

“We are making step changes to improve customer service, as part of our 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. We have also created more than 1,000 new contact centre jobs in the UK, with hundreds more to come, to meet our 2016 commitment for more than 80% of consumer customer calls to be answered in the UK. And we have plans to go even further in years to come.

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

Key points for the second quarter:
• Growth in underlying revenue excluding transit, up 2.0%
• EBITDA1 down 1% reflecting our investment in BT Sport Europe
• 106,000 BT TV net additions
• Strong order book across the group
• Interim dividend of 4.4p, up 13%

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine