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BT Results – FTTP Hits 6.4 Million UK Premises as TV Joint Venture Unveiled

Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 (7:25 am) - Score 7,632
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The BT Group has published their Q3 2021/22 results, which saw Openreach expand the coverage of gigabit Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband to 6.44 million UK premises (up by +662K vs +615K in Q2) and BT enter into “exclusive discussions” with Discovery to create a 50:50 joint venture with BTSport and Eurosport UK.

The big news today, at least for the BT side of things, is that the operator has entered exclusive discussions with Discovery on a deal to create a new sport and entertainment offering for customers in the UK with Eurosport UK. Recent reports had indicated that BT might sell their TV sport business to DAZN to help fund their full fibre rollout, but it looks as if a Joint Venture (JV) with Discovery was more attractive.

The new combined business will remain committed to retaining BT Sport’s existing major sports broadcast rights, while BT Sport customers will also gain access to Discovery’s sport and entertainment content, including the discovery+ app. BT Group are aiming to conclude the deal in early Q1 (financial) for the new company to be operational later this year.

On top of all that BT has also reached an agreement, in principle, with arch broadcasting rival Sky for a new longer-term reciprocal channel supply deal to beyond 2030.

NOTE: BT are investing £15bn to help Openreach’s full fibre network reach 25 million UK premises by December 2026 – 6.2 million of those will be in rural or semi-rural areas. The build is expected to hit a peak of c.75,000 premises per week (currently c.50,000 per week, which is up from 47.3k last quarter).

Financial Highlights – BT’s Quarterly Change
* BT Group revenue = £5,369m (up from £5,238m)
* BT Group profit after tax = £455m (up from £429m)
* BT Group total net debt = £17,741m (decreased from £18,241m)

BT doesn’t report full customer figures for their own retail broadband ISP division, except on their ultrafast services. BT Consumer reported that they had 1,053,000 FTTP customers (up from 945,000 last quarter) and EE’s “5G Ready” base now stands at 6.418 million (up from 5.279m).

Meanwhile, some 81.1% of BT’s fixed consumer base now take a “superfast broadband” service (down slightly from 81.9% last quarter) and this drops to 8.6% (up from 7.3%) for their “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) products – includes both G.fast and FTTP. We also noted that 21.5% of BT’s customers are also now taking both mobile and broadband (converged), which is down slightly from 21.7%.

Openreach’s Network

The table below offers a breakdown of fixed line network coverage and take-up by technology on Openreach’s UK network, which covers the totals for all ISPs that take their products combined (e.g. BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Zen Internet, Vodafone etc.).

Openreach Q3 2021-22 network coverage and takeup

The rollout of full fibre (FTTP) lines has clearly continued to grow, with +662,000 premises being added in the quarter (up from +615K last quarter). As for take-up, we normally expect the rapid rollout of new networks to suppress take-up figures, but Openreach’s build continues to buck this trend. So far, 1.508 million FTTP connections have been made (up from 1.264m), which equates to a take-up of 23.41% (up from 21.87% last quarter).

All of this represents good news for the rollout of FTTP, which needs to return good take-up in order to ensure investors and shareholders that it’s a bet worth taking. BT attributes the particularly strong quarterly improvement in take-up to Openreach’s new Equinox discount on wholesale prices, although not all ISPs have adopted that into their retail pricing yet (16 providers are using it).

Openreach also noted that 2 million premises under their current FTTP coverage (out of 6.442m) are considered “rural”.

Philip Jansen, CEO of BT Group, said:

“BT has had a good quarter with encouraging market share performance, and we continued to make significant improvements in customer service, although revenue from our enterprise divisions was softer than we expected.

We had another record-breaking quarter on our full fibre build and a pleasing 37% increase in FTTP connections following the launch of Openreach’s wholesale pricing offer. Our 5G build is also on track and now covers over 40% of the UK population with independently verified network leadership.

Today sees two important strategic partnership announcements on how BT moves forward in the fast-evolving content and TV business. The agreement in principle with Sky will provide our customers more choice and more flexibility for the next decade. Separately, we are excited at the prospect of a new joint venture between BT Sport and Eurosport UK as we enter into exclusive discussions with Discovery.”

We also noted that BT Group’s capital expenditure was up 24% to £3,752m, which is of course primarily due to investment in spectrum, FTTP and their mobile network (5G upgrades, OpenRAN etc.).

Finally, later this morning we are expecting Openreach to be able to confirm what we first reported last week, which is that 113 new locations (towns and villages) have been added to their FTTP broadband rollout plan (here), although we’re a little surprised that this wasn’t mentioned in BT Group’s results.

 

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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.
Leave a Comment
36 Responses
  1. framer George says:

    Joint venture from BT looks to be a clever move.

    1. Scott says:

      On the surface – yes. Jansen has suggested that BT Sport is a profitable enterprise now, selling it off undermines some aspects of increasing revenue from its direct to consumer/wholesale (to Sky/VM) products.

      Crucially this now fires the gun for the addition of more apps/content on BT TV and starts the drive to catch up with Sky’s add on content offering.

      Final thought – Openreach went out to market to explore options for FTTP, changes in then meant it could go it alone, BT Sport was viewed as a non core area that could support the rest of the business. These are two significant assets that BT has been able to avoid selling. This could be a measure of confidence that the business is moving in the right direction and better than predicted.

    2. John H says:

      Have you looked at the ads for Discovery and their programs, reality TV pulp fiction.

    3. Scott says:

      @John H – Yeah, I’ve seen them and I get where you are coming from. I’m only interested in occasional Eurosport coverage of sport but for other people in my household they enjoy some of the absolute garbage on channels like TLC. It’s not just about the stuff you or I like, they have plenty of stuff that interests other people.

      My point was really that this will help bolster the BT TV platform and drive new apps towards it (supported by Disco+ in the first instance). Once BT TV addresses missing apps like Disney it becomes a major alternative to SkyQ. The new STB operating over WiFi is tremendous and multiroom works very well. Hopefully they innovate and bring Freeview over IPTV this year.

    4. :) says:

      Missing their 3m prem target for FY21….

  2. Buggerlugz says:

    All new housing estates no doubt.

    1. Fastman says:

      some will be new housing i assume most will be not based on my level of expertise on this

    2. Grazza says:

      Not at all. The majority are not new builds.

    3. Alex A says:

      Just because FTTP isn’t in your area doesnt mean Openreach aren’t putting it in existing streets at a high pace.

      There were 49470 new homes in 2021, most of which (OFNL and other have sometimes got exclusivity deals with new builds so) will have Openreach FTTP. Meanwhile Openreach added 1 832 000 properties to FTTP availability last year.

      Maybe look at the numbers before making a comment.

    4. Aled says:

      It’s nice to see decent progressing numbers, particularly considering the Christmas slowdown and winter storms. It implies a rate of ~51k per week and I assume they must be closer to ~55-60k during a ‘normal’ February 2022 week.

      Is there a country map showing all postcodes live with either Virgin Media Gigabit, or any FTTP provider?

      I recall Thinkbroadband did something similar, but you couldn’t look at FTTP as an overview among all providers (I do not think so anyway)

    5. Squidgy says:

      Only 1.5 millions hones built in the last 10years

    6. anonymous says:

      Wouldn’t be too bitter. We know even when Openreach build FTTP to you you’ll be complaining about the pricing.

      Try posting something insightful or positive. Might feel good.

    7. New_Londoner says:

      @Aled
      I believe that the Think Broadband maps have been updated to provide an overview of all FTTP provision now.

    8. Buggerlugz says:

      Yeah I agree with you. If BT even could offer me FTTP, it would without any doubt be overpriced.

    9. 125us says:

      Only if they delivered 40 fibres to each new home.

      How many new homes do you think get built?

  3. Louis says:

    Just got my fibre 900 line installed in a very non new build estate. To be honest new builds dont get a choice of ISP so be careful what you wish for

    1. Fastman says:

      that depends on what deal the developer has done with the developers preferred infrastructure provider –

    2. Danny says:

      I just viewed an Avant house thats just being built today as it happens, I asked about the broadband offering and was very surprised to find it had FTTP Virgin Media, BT FTTP and had Hyperoptic this was in Glasshoughton in West Yorkshire.

    3. Fastman says:

      that because developers are now realising they need to offer variety of choice in their hew homes

  4. anonymous says:

    Good news. I can renew my 100 Gb leased line with confidence.

  5. FibreBubble says:

    Equinox and rapid build working well together. Providers encouraged to stick with Openreach platform and drive their consumers take-up.

    1. Jason says:

      Openreach are market leaders . Build faster than any other provider in the country and also have the backbone infrastructure to support it .

    2. GNewton says:

      @Jason: Openreach are only market leaders in terms of built volume. However, it is not always faster than others. In many areas altnets have built superior fibre networks much earlier and faster than Openreach would do. And BT/Openreach to this very day doesn’t do symmetric fibre. Altnets have the advantage of not getting sidetracked by other adventures like BT does with its BT Sports or TV.

    3. anonymous says:

      You seriously think BT Sport impacts Openreach?

    4. FibreBubble says:

      With BT, Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk and Vodafone all distracted by TV, it’s no wonder they are ‘only market leaders’

    5. FibreFred says:

      GNewton – “In many areas”

      Actual reality – “Very sparse”

    6. Fastman says:

      GNEWTon

      your obsession with symyetric (seen no sigh of waning) – i assume your better networks is B4RN which i think has covered about 15000 premises – where as openreach has done 6.4m – you clearly no commercial understanding why sport was done. sport was done to drive fibre before sport Bt retail was anchor tenant only – BT sport drove sky into the FTTC market (Sky were losing LLU customers and so compensated by offering FTTC. Sport drives demand, that demand now means user now ungrade from C to P where its available . that why sport is a essential part of strategy and why it had not been sold

      altnet aslso dont wholesale so can do what theyt want within reason

    7. GNewton says:

      According to a research by Point Topic, nearly £11bn will be invested by the ‘altnets’ by 2025 to help cover a significant portion of the UK with fibre. The same analysis states that by the end of 2025 nearly 30 million homes and businesses will connect to an altnet, with around 6.2 million live connections made.

      So yes, it will be in many areas, not just a few.

      As regards BTSport: BTSport is a group of pay television sports channels provided by BT Consumer, a division of BT Group. Openreach is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Telecommunications plc (BT), which itself includes the four separately managed businesses and virtually all other assets of the same BT Group. So BT Group has controlled the scene here with Openreach and BTSport, well, at least up to before this newly planned TV Joint venture.

      Openreach should have been made a truly independent company ages ago, instead it’s dependent on BT plc who owns the network assets and budget which should have been transferred to Openreach, the latter unfortunately never happened.

    8. FibreFred says:

      But GNewton was are still in 2022, not 2025.

      You said:

      “In many areas altnets have built superior fibre networks”

      Have is present tense, not future.

  6. Mark says:

    Just had full fibre from BT installed here in Plymouth, not a new estate

  7. Jamie says:

    I would love FFTP openreach have done bits and bats in my village but not the full village which I can’t understand.
    Fingers crossed they are back this year to the rest as I will snap it up strait away.

    1. Rural says:

      Will be a BDUK funded rollout. Rest fill no doubt get done when your exchange is down to be done as part of rural exchanges / wider FTTP program.

  8. A_Builder says:

    “As for take-up, we normally expect the rapid rollout of new networks to suppress take-up figures, but Openreach’s build continues to buck this trend. ”

    Maybe the chance to migrate from a wet piece of string to a fully functional connection spurred by Lockdown #1, #2 & #3 as well as most businesses being really pleased you have a decent connection and willing to help out and the potential to keep the kids off your back by allowing them to stream while you Zoom might all have something to do with it? Or maybe not?

    1. NE555 says:

      There’s usually a 1-2 year lag when FTTP becomes available before significant takeup in that area, because of people waiting to end their existing contracts. Hence I suspect many of these activations last year are from people who had FTTP available a year or two previously.

      Many people aren’t even bothered about higher speeds, and will stick with copper if they already have a reliable 30M+. However, some of the areas deployed 2 or 3 years ago will now be in copper stop-sell, which means that it’s impossible to buy or regrade copper. Over time this will force migrations onto FTTP, again with a significant lag.

    2. Winston Smith says:

      I thought is was PTSN stop-sell, i.e. you’ll still be able the order FTTC or G.Fast (SOGEA or SOGfast) but with VOIP only phone.

    3. A_Builder says:

      @NE555

      There is no barrier to you swapping from ASDL/FTTC to FTTP with the same provider?

      So if you were struggling on ADSL FTTC with a house-full of kidults and you could get FTTP discounted on the introductory offers then that might well be a solution.

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