The BT Group has published its latest quarterly figures for the second quarter ending 30th September 2009, which are useful for keeping track of where the provider is going, and how its various divisions are operating.
BT Retail, with its 'BT Total' brand of broadband products, and the familiar 'blue bill' telephone service saw its revenue decline by 5% to £2,062m. This reduction is apparently mainly due to a decline in call and line rental revenue. Given the rising numbers of lines using Wholesale Line Rental this is no surprise, and the number of bundled call packages sold may also be reducing revenue. The average annual consumer spend with BT Retail is some £296, and is rising as the customers remaining with BT buy more bundled products. The number of net additions in terms of broadband customers was 72,000 in the quarter, giving a total of 4.9 million broadband customers. Whether this means they are bigger than TalkTalk in terms of customers all depends on whether your are talking consumers, or consumers and business users. BT Vision added 18,000 customers to reach a total of 436,000 customers. Some 90% of new sign ups take a subscription package and the service saw 34 million video on demand views in the quarter.
BT Wholesale saw its revenue drop 4%, but managed to reduce operating costs by 6%. One service not mentioned much is their Ethernet services which are now available from around 700 nodes across the UK. Ethernet services offer the chance of higher downstream and upstream speeds with pricing that is generally lower than the traditional leased line market. It does not get much press coverage due to the pricing still being out of reach from the consumer market (the high prices are partially down to the low or uncontended nature of the service).
Openreach is interesting in that while total revenue declined by 1%, the size of the external revenue (i.e. from selling services to people other than the BT Group) increased by 24%. Total revenue was £1,285m, £299m of which was external. Capital expenditure in the quarter was reduced to £200m from £230m, apparently due to lower connection activity and efficiency initiates. The danger for Openreach is that savings now may store up greater costs in the future, or result in phone line performance degrading. Openreach is responsible for the fibre roll-out in the BT Group, which will be available to other communication providers too and this of course is continuing as expected.