UK telco BT has raised its build targets for Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) from 3 million to 4 million premises passed by March 2021, with the ambition increased from 10 million to 15 million by the mid-2020s, subject to favourable regulatory conditions and policy decisions. The news came as BT announced its results for the full year to 31 March 2019.
The telco’s Openreach infrastructure subsidiary passed c.2 million premises with Gfast and c.1.2 million with FTTP; now passing c.20,000 premises with FTTP per week.
BT reported revenue of £23.428 billion and adjusted revenue of £23.459 billion, both down 1 per cent as growth in Consumer was offset by regulated price reductions in Openreach and declines in its enterprise businesses, in particular in fixed voice. Profit before tax was £2.666 billion, up 2 per cent, with adjusted EBITDA of £7.392 billion, down 2 per cent.
BT Sport had increased viewing across all platforms, driven by a 4 per cent year on year audience increase for English Premier League coverage and an 18 per cent year on year increase for UEFA Champions League coverage.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, commenting on the results, said: “BT delivered solid results for the year, in line with our guidance, with adjusted profit growth in Consumer and Global Services offset by declines in Enterprise and Openreach. “Since joining the company three months ago, it has become clear to me just how fundamental BT’s role is in connecting our society. While we are really well positioned in a very challenging and competitive UK market, we have a lot of work to do to ensure we remain successful and deliver long term sustainable value to our shareholders. We need to invest to improve our customer propositions and competitiveness. We need to invest to stay ahead in our fixed, mobile and core networks, and we need to invest to overhaul our business to ensure that we are using the latest systems and technology to improve our efficiency and become more agile.”
“Our aim is to deliver the best converged network and be the leader in fixed ultrafast and mobile 5G networks. We are increasingly confident in the environment for investment in the UK. We have already announced the first 16 UK cities for 5G investment. Today we are announcing an increased target to pass 4 million premises with ultrafast FTTP technology by 2020/21, up from 3 million, and an ambition to pass 15 million premises by the mid-2020s, up from 10 million, if the conditions are right, especially the regulatory and policy enablers.”
Paolo Pescatore, TMT analyst at PP Foresight, described the results as overall, another challenging quarter as the consumer unit continues to shine. “In a cut throat market like the UK, there are few opportunities to grow. Moves to accelerate plans for its fibre broadband rollout, 5G and cross selling existing services can help increase the group’s bottom line, but also require significant investment,” he noted.
“The lack of any significant shift in strategy is unsurprising as it’s still early days for Philip Jansen,” he suggested, noting that the new CEO had some tough decisions to make, which would cause further disruption. “This will hamper its ability to grow in the short term,” he advised. “Changes will not be made overnight and it is early for a new strategy approach by Jansen. In essence, the new CEO needs to consider a radical new strategic approach including the future of global services, Openreach and the importance of costly sports rights.”
“BT is still uniquely placed given its vast network assets. There are no more excuses, it must now execute,” he concluded.