Broadband drives profits at BT up 20pc

Steve Dinneen
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BT yesterday reported a 20 per cent leap in pre-tax profit, sending its shares up more than four per cent.

Its revenues continued to fall, with a five per cent decrease to £4.7bn narrowly beating analysts’ forecasts.

Its performance was driven by a surge in uptake for its superfast internet services, with 141,000 new customers taking up its broadband offering. This pushed BT Retail to a four per cent rise in profits to hit £344m. However, the revenues at the consumer-facing business dropped four per cent to £1.8bn, marking its ninth consecutive quarter of negative growth.

Average revenue per user rose to £27.50 a month – still a long way behind Virgin Media’s eye-watering £47. Fixed-line revenues fell six per cent as customer numbers decreased and voice calls dropped off.

Its Global Services division continued its recovery, reporting an operating loss of just £37m, a 31 per cent improvement on the £54m loss last year.

BT chief executive Ian Livingston said: “Customers are voting with their feet. BT and Sky have been the winners and pretty much everyone else has been the losers.”

Virgin Media and TalkTalk both reported net customer losses this week.

Meanwhile, the High Court yesterday ordered BT to block access to the Newzbin website, which has been accused of piracy. Critics say the ruling could lead to stricter controls on the internet but the move has been welcomed by the creative industries and rights holders.