BT has revealed that its Openreach fibre network now passes 80 percent of UK premises, allowing 23 million homes and businesses to access high-speed services from the provider.
Some 4.6 million premises currently take advantage of these services, and 3.2 million customers are signed up with BT’s Retail division. The remaining 1.4 million are a mix of other providers using the Openreach network, such as Sky, TalkTalk and EE.
The figures were revealed during BT’s Q1 financials, which showed revenues for the period of £4.27bn, a two percent decline on the same period last year. However, profits before tax rose nine percent to £694m.
BT chief executive Gavin Patterson described the fact that the fibre network now passes 80 percent of premises as a notable milestone that puts the firm on track to deliver on its and the government's goal of providing 95 percent coverage by 2017.
“Our technical trials of ultrafast broadband using G.fast are progressing well; we’re on target to start large-scale customer trials this summer,” he said.
BT also revealed that the operator has already signed up 100,000 mobile customers to its service provided via the EE network. Patterson said that BT is confident of its £12.5bn deal to buy EE going through, creating "a true UK digital champion".
Paolo Pescatore, director of multiplay and video at analyst firm CCS Insight, said that the sign-up figure for mobile services is impressive, and proves that there is strong demand among customers to take multiple digital services from one provider.
"This further validates BT's cross-selling strategy, its move back into mobile, and with its acquisition of EE, BT will have an extensive retail footprint to showcase a wider range of services," he said.
BT also revealed that higher than expected take up of fibre services in some areas means that the firm is returning £129m to local authorities from previous broadband contracts that will be used to further expand rollout projects.
Each council will be able to access a portion of the funding based on their initial contract size and the take-up level in their area. The money can be spent only on further broadband rollout services, such as increasing speeds or coverage.
John Whittingdale, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, claimed that the release of the additional funding is a big win for the taxpayer.
“The government was clear from the start that, as levels of people taking up superfast broadband went beyond our expectations in areas where we invested public money, BT would reimburse the taxpayer for reinvesting into further coverage across the UK,” he said.
“This now means that BT will be providing up to £129m cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas.”
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