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UK: Broadband boost for profits at BT

11:53 01 February 2013

BT chief executive Ian Livingston

Photo: BT/VisMedia

BT chief executive Ian Livingston Photo: BT/VisMedia

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TELECOMS giant BT said today that it attracted 122,000 new broadband customers in the final three months of last year as it continued its march on the internet market.

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The group recruited extra engineers to speed up roll out and repairs after one of the wettest years on record, helping it increase the number of new retail customer numbers added by 50%, up from 81,000 the previous quarter.

BT, which is spending £2.5billion rolling out its fibre broadband network, said it reached 13 million premises in December, and including other providers who use its Openreach network, it installed broadband in 281,000 homes in the period.

Its television service BT Vision also attracted a further 21,000 new customers, helping the group report a better-than-expected 7% increase in pre-tax profits to £675million in the three months to December 31.

Chief executive Ian Livingston said: “Take-up is growing strongly with around 1.25 million homes and businesses now enjoying the benefits of faster speeds. This gives us an excellent platform for our push into TV and sport later this year.”

Last year the company announced an agreement for broadcast rights for Premier League football and Premiership rugby, with BT Sport launching this summer, with Formula 1 presenter Jake Humphrey fronting its football coverage.

And the group, which is opening television production facilitates in the London Olympic Park, said its “pre-season” training was going well.

The group still posted a 6% fall in revenues to £4.5bn in the three months to December 31 as its global division, which provides services to businesses, was hit by tough trading conditions in Europe and the financial services sector.

But shares in BT rose 5% following the company’s update as investors focused on the better-than-expected rise in profits.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: “As it sprawls out into becoming something of a media company, BT continues to show its strength in its more traditional markets.”

But he warned revenues were under pressure given the wider economic backdrop and fragile corporate confidence, and also said the fierceness of competition in the market showed little sign of abating.

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