The growth in the number of UK broadband customers continues and the BT Group has released its Q4 results for the year ending 31st March 2014 which show BT Retail now has some 7,261,000 customers. This growth of 170,000 customers for BT Retail in the last quarter accelerates BT Retail away from the other providers.
The signs of changing times are apparent in the latest financial figures since BT Business and BT Consumer now sit as separate sections whereas previously they were merged under the umbrella BT Retail. A rare mention is made of PlusNet who are usually hidden in the BT figures, Plusnet grew its customer base by 15% in the last year. The consumer division which is how most people see BT grew by 170,000 broadband connections and this was even with the loss of 49,000 customers (the loss may seem high but is lower than the same quarter 12 months ago). Fibre based broadband is where the future lies and some 249,000 customers (a mixture of new to BT and upgrades) was added to grow the customer base to over 2.1m. While its easy for people to dismiss the lure of BT Sport, there are some 3m subscribers via satellite, BT TV, online or app and the full BT TV service added 46,000 customers. The older pre-YouView era set-top boxes are to be retired soon and will be swapped out for a YouView box.
Openreach which is responsible for the copper local loop and the roll-out of fibre enhancements via the GEA-FTTC and GEA-FTTP products, is reporting the widely anticipated figure that 19 million UK premises have the option to order a fibre based service is they wish. There are now some 2.7 million connections on the FTTC/P network adding 347,000 in the last quarter. The figures on homes passed, includes 630,000 premises passed under the 44 BDUK projects for which the build phases are underway, and extra 315,000 premises in the last quarter saw the option to order a fibre based service to their property.
While there are vocal doubters that the Openreach network is available to so many people, we looked at the number of premises connected to enabled cabinets and some rough calculations got us to within a whisker of the announced figures.
The results particularly for BT Retail go against some of the online comments people make criticising the BT Sports football rights deal, but we suspect the silent majority are not that worried about it and just see the sports package as just another bonus as part of the overall package. The UK is lucky in that there is almost always a choice of retail broadband provider, and importantly the pricing is very competitive.
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