The increasing availability of the GEA-FTTC and GEA-FTTP services is showing with record demand for fibre based broadband services from Openreach who now have connected around 19% of UK homes as 4.5 million have actually ordered one of the services. This is from a footprint of over 22 million homes passed.
The financial results for the BT Group for the quarter and year ending 31st March 2015 will make good reading for shareholders as the proposed full year dividend is 12.4p up 14% on the previous year. In terms of broadband numbers the last quarter was a record one for fibre demand (455,000 new connections in quarter, with 266,000 retail customers) and this is not just people upgrading, as the physical line base grew by 215,000 and some 248,000 broadband customers were added over the Openreach local loop (49% aka 121,000 via BT Retail).
Capital expenditure for the year was £2,326m (Openreach £1,082) with net grant funding of £392m (grant figure for 2013/2014 was £126m). The grant funding reflecting actual money received by the BT Group through the BDUK projects and Openreach capital expenditure increased by 3%, with the slow down as the commercial roll-out winds-up being taken over by work on the BDUK projects and the increasing labour costs as the pace and complexity of the BDUK programme continues to deliver. One reason for the extra complexity is that the commercial fibre roll-out ignored Exchange Only lines but a good deal of work is going into either adding a VDSL2 cabinet or in some cases rolling out FTTP.
While the financial results are positive over Ofcom meeting some 60 minimum service levels Ofcom have set, this is not always apparent for people ordering migrations and new lines, as it is not uncommon to find people talking of 3 or 4 weeks for a migration or upgrade from ADSL2+ to fibre, we have seen new lines take even longer. Of course this might just be a reflection of the record number of sign-ups or regional issues, but it is an area to keep an eye on.
When the new Gaining Provider Led migration process launches on 20th June it will be interesting to see what happens, the new process while simpler with its 10 day notification period will not help the time for migrations to happen but the larger providers may see a rise in churn levels as they are not allowed to pro-actively pester customers with retention deals.