BT Top 7.71M Broadband Subscribers with 3M On Infinity "Fibre Broadband" - ISPreview UK
The national UK telecoms operator, BT, has today published the latest results for Q1-2015 (calendar) and confirmed that their retail business added +121,000 new broadband subscribers in the quarter (up from +119k in Q4 2014) to total 7,713,000, which includes 3,010,000 on BTInfinityfibre broadband” (up by +266k vs +209k in Q4 2014).

The results reveal that BTOpenreach, which covers the whole market and includes take-up from BT as well as other ISPs (e.g. Sky Broadband and TalkTalk), has managed to connect 4,193,000 FTTC/P “Fibre Broadband” subscribers and that’s up by +455,000 in the quarter (better than the +375k added in Q4 2014). As usual BT’s own consumer division subscribers account for the lion’s share of that total (as above).

Overall Openreach reported that their total active UK broadband lines topped 19,306,000 (up by +248k in Q1 2015 – less than the +258k added in Q4), which among other things included 8,586,000 fully unbundled (MPF LLU) and 1,175,000 shared unbundled (SMPF LLU) lines as used by other ISPs. We note that SMPF lines have continued to decline as MPF becomes more popular.

Separately BTWholesale continues to run a total of 1,831,000 external broadband lines for other ISPs, which is down by -42k in the quarter after showing a +14k spike in Q4 2014. Meanwhile, on the TV front, BT’s consumer IPTV (YouView + BTVision) service saw subscribers increase by +52k in the quarter to total 1,142,000 (up from +45k in Q4).

Interestingly BT reports that their FTTC dominated “fibre broadband” network is now available to “more than” 22 million homes and businesses, which is roughly the same figure as it was in the previous quarter (they normally add an extra million each quarter). But we wouldn’t read too much into this as the Broadband Delivery UK fuelled progress has not slowed, although having said that BT was not willing to share a specific figure.

Gavin Patterson, BT Group’s CEO, said:

Our superfast broadband network now passes more than three-quarters of the UK and we’ve announced plans to upgrade to ultrafast. This will be another multi-year investment by Openreach and is the right thing for both BT and the UK, providing even faster speeds in an already competitive market. We delivered our best ever performance for fibre connections in the fourth quarter with Openreach adding almost half a million premises to our network. Our retail business delivered a record-breaking 266,000 of these connections.

Shareholders approved our proposed £12.5 billion acquisition of EE last week. While we await regulatory approval, we have pushed ahead with our own mobility plans, launching our great value BT Mobile consumer service in March.

Our BT Sport TV channels are now in more than 5.2 million homes, with the customer base growing again in the quarter. We’re pleased to have secured FA Premier League football rights for a further three years, and an extension with Aviva Premiership Rugby for four more years. With exclusive live football from the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, we’ll be showing even more top sporting action from this summer
On the financial front there are a few things worth noting, such as the 6% quarterly decline in operating costs. Capital expenditure also increased 10% in the quarter and is net of £117m grant funding (Q4 2013/14: £59m), mainly relating to the BDUK programme (increased FTTC/P coverage) and higher volumes of Ethernet provision. Overall capital expenditure increased 3% for the year and was net of grant funding of £378m (2013/14: £126m).

Total quarterly revenue also reached £4,639m (up from £4,475m in Q4) and BT Group’s reported profits before tax topped £842m (up from £694m), which is a strong improvement. Meanwhile total net debt for the group stands at £5,119m for the past year, which is down by £1,909m on the previous year.

Otherwise there’s not a lot to report, it’s been a good quarter for BT, while the EE deal is still progressing and their 500Mbps trials are due to begin this summer. The operator did however say that they were considering an appeal against Ofcom’s new “margin squeeze test” of their fibre broadband prices (retail vs wholesale), although they’ve been saying that for a while.