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BT’s fibre reaches 20m and connects 3m, but TV stalls in spring

BT’s fibre network upgrade now reaches 20 million premises and connects 3m, but its TV option isn’t keeping up with rivals Sky and TalkTalk.

Network operator BT Openreach has activated FTTC (fibre to the cabinet) broadband for another 341,000 homes and businesses with ISPs since March – and 2.3m are with BT or its subsidiary, Plusnet.

BT TV, however, added just 40,000 new subscribers, and lost 35,000 when it disconnected inactive old BT Vision boxes, languishing with just over 1m subscribers in total. On the bright side, BT Sport will be free with broadband for another year.

BT has been busy extending FTTC with BDUK government cash
BT has been busy extending FTTC with BDUK government cash

Gavin Patterson, BT chief executive, said: ““Our fibre broadband network now covers more than twenty million premises. We are passing over 70,000 additional premises each week and demand is strong with more than three million already signed up.”

The former national communications provider still looks like the default choice for broadband, adding 104,000 homes to reach 7.4m since March.

While the total number of physical phone lines connected by Openreach continued to grow to 25.1m, BT’s retail share of these fell by 69,000 to 9.8m as rivals like Sky and TalkTalk took customers away.

BT dominates broadband and fibre

BT continued to reap the benefit of pushing its up-to-76Mbps FTTC services while TalkTalk has just begun selling them and Sky rarely talks about fibre in public.

BT’s consumer and business divisions signed up 226,000 fibre customers, taking it to more than 2.3m. 

TalkTalk has just 240,000 fibre customers and Sky doesn’t quote a figure, giving BT 77 per cent of the UK’s fibre broadband customers (not including Virgin Media).

It’s also dominating the growth of UK broadband, taking 64 per cent of all the 163,000 homes new to broadband between March and April. 

BT's still the default choice for most Brits signing up to broadband
BT’s still the default choice for most Brits signing up to broadband

BT Sport stays free as TV struggles to find fans

BT TV’s football-heavy customer message had a tough end to its first season, adding just 40,000 new subscribers from April to June to reach a total of 1.007m.

The good news is that this means BT Sport will continue to be free with BT Broadband.

The low TV growth compared to Sky (+76k) and TalkTalk (+185k) was compounded by subscribers leaving as it swapped out first-generation BT Vision boxes, dumping 35,000 homes where they were no longer wanted.

BT Sport claimed ‘strong growth’ among residential users – but there were no figures to back it up – and an extra 19,000 pubs, clubs, hotels and other commercial premises.

“We commenced the exchange of legacy set-top boxes in the quarter which resulted in some TV customer churn, as anticipated,” Patterson added.

“The second season of BT Sport is about to start with a great line-up of content and it will continue to be free with BT Broadband.”

It's been tough for BT to keep up with Sky and TalkTalk's TV growth
It’s been tough for BT to keep up with Sky and TalkTalk’s TV growth

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