BT expands super-fast net, goes for games, more IPTV

BT has confirmed that it will expand its roll-out of next-generation broadband to bring super-fast services to two-thirds of the UK. Originally its fibre services, offering speeds of up to 40 megabits per second (Mbps), were due to reach around 40 per cent of the population by 2012. Another £1 billion (E1.16 billion) (on top of the £1.5 billion already announced) investment will see the project roll out to a further 20 per cent of the population by 2015. The first four million people will be connected by the end of the year.

The announcement came as the telco reported a pre-tax profit of £1 billion for the year to March, compared with a loss of £244 million in the previous year. The company reported consumer-facing division BT Retail's revenue was down 4 per cent to £2 billion and group revenue was down 3 per cent to £5.35 billion.

CEO Ian Livingston said, “We're investing in the future of our business, enhancing our TV offering and building on opportunities in our Global Services business. Assuming an acceptable environment for investment, we see the potential to roll out fibre to around two-thirds of the UK by 2015. This will take our total fibre investment to £2.5 billion, which will be managed within our current levels of capital expenditure.”

Underlining its commitment to entertainment BT has bought a 2.6 per cent stake in cloud computing gaming consortium OnLive in a bid to increase its TV related offering and tap into the £2 billion gaming market. OnLive has been seven years in development and officially launches in the US this summer following a successful beta trial.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail, said, “Entertainment will be at the heart of what we offer customers in the future. The partnership with OnLive complements BT Vision. Our customers will have access to a huge catalogue of games, available instantly on their TV or PC.”

The deal was announced as the company reveals BT Vision subscriptions rose to 467,000 from 451,000 the previous year.BT said it's committing a further £200 million over 2010/11 towards improving BT Vision and adding consumer products.

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