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BT Achieves 66% UK Fibre Broadband Rollout Target as Customers Soar

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 (8:22 am) - Score 2,251
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BT has today released their latest Q1-2014 (calendar) results, which confirm that their £2.5bn commercial roll-out of superfast capable “fibre broadband” technology (FTTC/P) has now reached its goal ahead of schedule by passing 19 million premises (around 66% of the United Kingdom). Separately, BT’s retail broadband ISP customers topped 7,281,000 (up +170k in the quarter vs +150k during Q4-2013).

The national Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) dominated deployment of “fibre broadband” connectivity is being celebrated by BT after having completed well ahead of its spring 2014 target (note: this period runs to late June), although it’s crucial to point out that the operators original goal was actually the end of 2015 (here); around 21 months ahead of schedule.

But the effort hasn’t all been plain sailing and last year BT confirmed that they’d effectively had to abandon their original plans to make native (not FoD) “ultrafast” 330Mbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology available to 2.5 million premises by the same target (here), which was partly due to the high cost / slow pace of deployment and complex home installations. FTTP is still being rolled out but at a much slower pace, while the Fibre on Demand (FoD) alternative is about to become far too expensive for home users (here).

It’s also important to remember that BT will be continuing their commercial roll-out and, combined with the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) investment, a recent prediction from BT Wholesale suggested that this will increase their FTTC/P network footprint to around 80% of the United Kingdom by Spring 2015 (here).

BT Statement on BDUK Progress

We continue to make progress with extending the reach of fibre beyond our commercial footprint. We have now started the build phase in all 44 areas of the BDUK contracts we have won. We passed around 315,000 premises in these areas in the quarter, and have now passed more than 630,000 in total.

Take note that BDUK’s semi-separate 90% “superfast broadband” (25Mbps+) coverage goal for the end of 2015, and then 95% by 2017, includes other operators like Virgin Media.

Back to the Quarterly Results

BT’s consumer division has managed to grow its broadband base to 7.28 million and we note that 2.1 million of those are now connecting via FTTC (plus a very tiny minority on FTTP), which equates to a quarterly growth in retail “fibre broadband” subscribers of +249,000 (an improvement on the +228k added in Q4-2013).

In terms of the overall market (including other ISPs), BTWholesale reports that it’s now home to 9,153,000 broadband lines (up strongly by +156k in the quarter vs +36k in Q4-2013). On top of that BTOpenreach has LLU 9,302,000 unbundled lines (+61k, down from the +216k added in Q4-2013), which are mostly with Sky Broadband and TalkTalk.

We note that the total number of FTTC/P lines added in the quarter for all ISPs using BT’s platform was +347,000, which is an improvement on the +339k added in Q4 2013 (total FTTC/P customers of 2.7 million). As a result the total number of broadband (DSL + FTTC/P) lines delivered via BT’s infrastructure (BTW and LLU based) is now 18,455,000.

Gavin Patterson, BT Group’s CEO, said:

We have made strong progress this year. Underlying revenue, adjusted profit before tax and normalised free cash flow have all grown and beaten market expectations.

Our investment in fibre is delivering with 1.3 million more premises taking fibre this year, almost doubling the number of homes and businesses now connected. Our rollout is ahead of schedule with our fibre network passing more than 19 million premises, around two thirds of the UK. But we are not stopping there. All of our BDUK projects are underway and will help take the coverage of all fibre networks to at least 90% of the UK, bringing significant benefits to communities across the nation.

BT Sport has proved very popular and we are delighted the service is now in around five million homes. For BT Consumer it underpinned a record 9% growth in revenue in the fourth quarter and the lowest line losses in over five years. We achieved an excellent 79% share of broadband market net additions in the quarter.”

On the BT TV front it’s worth noting that the operator actually saw a significant slowing of growth in their paid set-top-box (IPTV) platform, which only added +46k in the quarter to total 1,002,000 (slower than the +53k added in Q4-2013).

However the related BTSport TV service / channels managed to attract “around” 3 million direct customers (including BT’s wholesale deals) and the service is said to be “in around 5m homes“, although many of those customers will be taking the content free as existing BT Broadband subscribers. So far BT Sport seems to be helping BT to grow / sustain its broadband base but hasn’t done much for their BT TV product.

On the financial front BT Group’s revenue reached £4,748m in the quarter (up from £4,599m in Q4-2013) and their reported profits before tax topped £747m. Total net debt for the group also declined from £7,640m in Q4-2013 to total £7,028m now.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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37 Responses
  1. Avatar Unknown101

    Good set of results there beat the city’s expectations, nice rise of 16p this morning.

  2. Avatar New_Londoner

    Good to see coverage of fibre broadband has continued to expand, take up seems to be accelerating too.

  3. Avatar Stephen

    Is there any way of seeing certain regions take ups? Or say a chart for the best & worst areas? It would be interesting to see local stats, though I suspect this is commercially sensitive information.

  4. “…with 1.3 million more premises taking fibre…”

    Which of course is a blatant lie by Mr Patterson as they are doing no such thing. 🙂

  5. Avatar FibreFred

    21 months ahead 🙂 and people said they wouldn’t even meet their target of 2015 🙂

    • Avatar Raindrops

      I thought the target was to get 90+% online if they got all the BDUK funding which they did.

  6. Avatar FibreFred

    And the quarterly growth of FTTC is on the rise again, just goes to show people do actually want this rubbish VDSL service 🙂

    • Avatar Bob2002

      Yes people often want faster broadband and for many VDSL is the only option provided, Hobson’s choice.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      “people do actually want this rubbish VDSL service”

      Yes a whole 20% of the 19 Million they claim it is available to actually take it.
      I suppose to BT that is a success LOL

    • Avatar MikeW

      Best quarterly growth yet, but only fractionally above last quarter’s. I’ll add it to the data attached to the article on last quarter’s results:

      Q4-14: +350k, to 2.7m (Openreach numbers)
      Q3-14: +340k, to 2.4m (-“-)
      Q2-14: +310k, to 2m (-“-)
      Q1-14: +265k, to 1.7m (-“-)
      Q4-13: +270k, to 1.5m (-“-)
      Q3-13: +250k, to 1.25m (-“-)
      Q2-13: +200k, to 0.95m (-“-)
      Q1-13: +170k, to 0.75m (-“-)
      Q4-12: +131k, to 0.55m (BT Retail numbers only)
      Q3-12: +95k, to 0.40m (-“-)
      Q2-12: +88k, to 0.30m (-“-)
      Q1-12: +50k, to 0.20m (unknown whether BTO or BTR)
      Q4-11: +60k, to 0.15m (-“-)
      Q3-11: +50k, to 0.09m (estimate – not in quarterly results)
      Q2-11: to 0.04m

    • Avatar Raindrops

      So around 20% of the 19 million its available to have probably taken it and id say im being generous with that 20% as BT Retail claim only 2.1 Million customers have taken FTTX. I imagine the other 9(ish)% come from other providers. Again to be generous. Even though i doubt other providers have anything near to the market share of FTTX users which BT Retail has. Again i am being kind.

  7. Avatar gerarda

    I presume as usual “passed” includes “bypassed”, but BT seems to take the Humpty Dumpty approach to word definitions.

    it would be more believable if they broke down the 19m into ones which can get more than 24mb, those that get less, and those passed but to whom the service is not available.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Passed = orderable

    • Avatar gerarda

      evidence?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/the-big-build/

      It uses the term “have access”, how can you have access but not order it?

      If you cannot order it you cannot have access to it?

    • Avatar gerarda

      That is just a further example of their Humpty Dumpty approach to word definitions.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      It was 18 Million passed at the end of the Q4 2013 report now at the end of Q1 2014 it is supposed to be 19 Million.

      Or in other words we are now expected to believe BT based on their announcements are rolling FTTC out at a rate of around 330,000 premises a month. And to reach that 19 Million they would have to of rolled it out to that 330,000 each and every month since about late 2009.

      Considering some months according to BTs very own announcements if you look back to around 2011 and onward it was rolled out to only tens of thousands rather than hundred of thousands, id like to know how they managed that, are we expect to believe some months they passed 500,000+ in a single month??????

      BT maths and BS announcements they never fail to not impress.

    • Avatar MikeW

      To help you, I’ve done a “premises passed” tracker like the take-up one:

      Q4-14: +1m, to 19m (within rural: +315k to 630k)
      Q3-14: +1m, to 18m (within rural: +170k to 320k)
      Q2-14: +1m, to 17m (within rural: +100k to 150k)
      Q1-14: +1m, to 16m
      Q4-13: +2m, to 15m
      Q3-13: +1m, to 13m
      Q2-13: +1m, to 12m
      Q1-13: +1m, to 11m
      Q4-12: +3m, to 10m
      Q3-12: +1m, to 7m
      Q2-12: +1m, to 6m
      Q1-12: +1m, to 5m
      Q4-11: to 4m (at 80k premises per week)
      Q3-11:
      Q2-11: +1.5m to 3m
      Q1-11: to 1.5m

      (rural = BDUK + NI + cornwall)

    • Avatar Raindrops

      And to help you ill refer to your post before you read this one here…….
      http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2014/05/bt-achieves-66-uk-fibre-broadband-rollout-target-customers-soar.html#comment-143481

      As i said some months are only tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands.

    • Avatar Raindrops

      Oh apologies your other figures are takeup rather than availability, may i ask where you are getting both sets of figures??

    • Avatar Unknown101

      MikeW – they’ll be announcing 20M passed next week just to let you know, it missed the Q4 14 results by a week unfortunately.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @unknown101 Why “unfortunately”?- its a nonsense figure that bears no resemblance to the number that can get a 24mbps or faster connection.

    • Avatar Unknown101

      @gerarda -unfortunate because it was a week late but shows that Openreach are keeping up the speed of the rollout and are working flat out. Unfortunate because it would have been better for BT shareholders as it’s a positive result. Yes it’s not 20m homes with FTTP but it’s millions more than any other company because BT were the only company applying for the contracts to do the work. Moan when the rollout is complete…..

    • Avatar gerarda

      Its not 20M with SFBB either – however BT want to spin it that it is.

    • Avatar No Clue

      I have a question for him of many guises. The story states…
      “BT has today released their latest Q1-2014”

      Yet he of many guises is quoting figures for Q4-2014 and then blabbering on about BT releasing Q4-2014 figures with 20 Million passed in a weeks time.

      Dos it now have a Delorean and Flux capacitor to predict all this????? Or is it just a case of the obvious and its talking rubbish again!

    • Avatar Gadget

      For BT report and accounts Q1-2014 on the calendar is Q4 of their 2013-2014 fiscal year.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @raindrops
      Both sets of numbers are from the BT quarterly results, so as to spread them evenly in time.

      They publish the “passed” numbers in the form “>10m”, which could mean anywhere between 10 and 11 million – but I have just included the simple, lower, rounded number.

      There are press releases that give more accurate dates to passing each million mark, or at least some of them, but I figure the quarterly progress is enough for now – as well as being the easiest for anyone to factcheck.

      @Unknown101
      Thanks. They did the same at the 4m mark too, where they almost passed 5m at the time of the results. Too bad.

      I did think it was bad to claim they’d hit their original commercial target 21 months early, when the actual total turns out to include 600k of subsidised lines (though perhaps it is only the media that relates the 19m to the original 67% target). Reaching 20m negates that problem.

      @gerarda
      You’re right that knowing the number of premises at >24Mbps would also be useful, but it doesn’t make the 19m (or 20m) figure useless. The 2013 ofcom figure of 90% getting 24Mbps+ and 86% getting 30Mbps+ sync speeds allows you to make useful adjustments.

      @no clue
      My numbering follows a pattern based on BT’s financial year reporting:
      The Qn number matches the quarter number that BT reports on. The one just published was for Q4, so marks the end of their financial year.
      The -nn part matches the calendar year in which Q4 of the financial year ends.

      So Q1-14 to me is the first quarter of the 2013/14 financial year that ends in March 2014 (so means April-June 2013), while Q4-14 is the fourth quarter of that same 2013/14 financial year, which is the report this article is about: January-March 2014. The first period I mention, Q1-11, means April-June 2010.

      Mark, on the other hand, has used a calendar-year nomenclature.

      Anyone can choose what they feel like – which adds to the merry confusion. As for my other guises – I don’t know what they choose to write. Perhaps your other guises will have a better idea; ask them for an opinion, though I guess they’ll offer it anyway.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      No Clue doesn’t understand financial years, then again deduction.. has no clue as we know

    • Avatar No Clue

      Oh god the boring deduction accusations are back. Could you at least get some new material i realise you are stupid but please at least try.

      @MikeW thanks for that explanation, would you mind linking to where you got all the information on the figures you provided it would be an interesting read.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @no clue
      I get them from the raw BT quarterly reports, which are published here:
      http://www.btplc.com/Sharesandperformance/Quarterlyresults/Quarterlyresults.htm

      The most recent results are on that page; for older ones, you need to follow the menu item “results archive” on the right-hand menu.

      The detail can usually be found in the ‘release’ PDF files, while the highlights can often be found in the ‘slides’ PDF. Searching for the word ‘fibre’ in each document helps narrow things down.

    • Avatar No Clue

      Interesting reading, including some of the assumptions they make.

    • Avatar gerarda

      @mikew The ofcom stats are fairly useless for reasons I have gone into in depth before.

  8. The NGA results are impressive,(MikeW thanks for the expansion – good work) exceeding predicted internal BT expectations, the roll out was cheaper, faster and easier with uptake greater than expected. That can and should be celebrated. The costs of overlaying fibre on an existing networking was always going to be cheaper than those needing to model PIA costs within a roll out model.

    The question why this cheaper, easier, faster and good uptake has not found its way into the £1.2bn state aid calculations for Rutland (£2.9m subsidy for c 40 cabinets with or without a handover points) or the est £47k per cabinet/path (£176 per premise past) being reported in North Yorkshire needs to be fully explored and reported upon.

    On the re-entry to Mobile, the 2,6Ghz spectrum should have been given to Openreach with wholesale access conditions as part a its national role as a wholesale date transport supplier of last resort. BT future home hub should be so successful Ofcom will have to act retrospectively to permit other ISP equal access to the home. It would be interesting to net the £190m BT paid for spectrum against the contingencies and inflated costs visible in the NAO report.

  9. Avatar John E

    That’s great, but the 2 exchanges nearest to us Swinford and Cotesbach, which I believe used to say FTTC for summer 2014 now say between summer 2014 and summer 2015. If BT are doing so well – why have roll out dates been put back?

  10. Avatar Paul4FTTP

    So, what about the people that had their FTTP installs started in 2011/2012 and then stopped for no reason, do we get it continued?

    We are down as “Part of BT’s 66% Commercial Plan” we have the fibre manifold underground and the enclosure on the pole which has been like that since 2011/2012 yet still so fibre.

    Are we still going to get it? because we cannot get FTTC due half our road already has the FTTP installed.

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