BT has reported an increase in profits and sales for the last quarter of 2013.
BT reported pre-tax profits of £617m on revenues of £4.6bn for the last 3 months of 2013, this is a rise of 2% on turnover and is the first time they have had a rise since the first quarter of 2009 and also marks a substantial 6% rise in the pre-tax profits.
Much of BT’s growth has come because of the strategic investment in live sports of their BT Sports TV channel to compete against BSkyB. They now have 2.5 million customers using their TV service, many of which are BT Infinity broadband customers who get to receive free access to the BT Sports channels. BT has got a broadband customer base of 7.1 million customers with 1.9 million of those taking out a fibre optic broadband connection with BT.
In the 3rd quarter of 2013 BT Openreach took on 339,000 new superfast broadband customers (not all BT as BT Openreach is the division of BT that deals with rolling out their network), this was up 38% on a year previous. On a net basis, BT added 150,000 standard and superfast broadband customers which equated to 60% growth in the overall market.
BT have invested very heavily in the rights to live sports, with football being the main area they have put most of their money, they have spent £738m per season for 3 years for the rights to exclusively show 38 live Premier League games, they have also spent a further £900m for the exclusive rights to show Champions League and Europa League games for 3 years from 2015 too.
To view a full breakdown of BT’s Third Quarter results visit btplc.com.
Last week saw the 2014 uSwitch.com broadband awards take place at the Café De Paris in London with awards ranging from the best broadband provider, fastest broadband provider to best broadband innovation.
In total there were 12 awards up for grabs with Virgin Media & Sky scooping the most awards between them with Virgin Media claiming what we think as the main award in the “Best Broadband Provider” category. The awards were voted for by 3,000 broadband customers, uSwitch data and an expert judging panel.
In total Virgin Media won the Best Broadband Provider, Fastest Broadband and Best Customer Rated Broadband awards. They will be happy with those to put to their name, especially as broadband speeds is one of the main benefits that broadband providers use when advertising their packages.
Sky got awarded the Best TV Streaming Service, Best Customer Benefits, Best TV Provider and Best Broadband, TV & Home Phone awards.
BT didn’t fair too bad either, they gathered the Best Broadband Innovation award for their move into TV content that comes free with broadband and also the Best Broadband & Home Phone award. On top of that, Plusnet (Owned by BT) won the Best Value Home Broadband and Best Customer Service awards.
The other winner was EE who gathered the Fastest Mobile Broadband award with their 4G service.
uSwitch.com broadband expert, Marie-Louise Abretti, said:
“Virgin Media and Sky may have come away triumphant, suggesting their customers are the most content, but British broadband – though considered the fourth utility – is by no means perfect with speed, service and cost still top concerns for bill-payers.“
At least another 400,000 premises in cities are set to get upgraded to fibre optic broadband as BT is to invest a further £50 million into its own commercial roll out of fibre optic broadband.
More than 30 cities across the UK will benefit from the extra investment that will target the areas that have not originally been targeted due to either not being originally deemed commercially viable at the beginning or due to local planning restrictions that stopped the deployment. Along with these areas there will be the deployment of fibre cabinets to apartment blocks and other multi-dwelling units and also the laying of Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) on some new build sites in the cities.
In total BT are spending over £3 billion of the deployment of fibre optic broadband, £2.5 billion on its own commercial rollout which once complete will cover around 19 million UK premises, plus then further investment to roll out with rural fibre optic broadband schemes such as those organised through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project.
Mike Galvin, MD Network Investment at BT Openreach, said:
“Our fibre programme is going extremely well with our engineers connecting homes and businesses across the UK. Some city areas have proved challenging in the past but we are returning to those and will pass hundreds of thousands of additional premises with fibre.“
Vodafone and Sky are apparently in talks about joining up as partners in the hope that they can compete with BT in the broadband market.
There has been no official announcement and no comments made from Vodafone or BSkyB about the rumour of this happening but according to The Sunday Times (paid subscription needed) there have been some “senior sources” commenting on it and saying that it would be unlikely that the two firms would look to build a nationwide fibre network due to the cost involved.
BT are investing heavily in their own fibre optic network with up to £3 billion being spent to roll out their network across much of the UK, along with extra money from the government’s BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) scheme and local councils too.
It is believed the discussions between BSkyB and Vodafone were along the lines of deals being struck on Sky’s sports and movie channels and joining up for a high speed broadband service too, although no confirmation or comment has been made by either company.
BSkyB will most definitely be thinking of ways to compete with BT. In November of last year £1.5 billion was wiped off the value of BSkyB shares after BT won the exclusive rights to show Champions League football from 2015 for 3 years at a cost of around £900 million for the 3 years, previously Sky & ITV had shared the rights for the previous 3 years at a cost of £400 million which goes to show how much BT are flexing their muscles and how serious they are about breaking the live sporting power for Sky. BT is certainly getting into the Sports TV scene in a big way, already this year they have won the rights to screen 38 live Premier League football games and also won exclusive rights to a number of other sporting events.
EE is to push out a security update to its home broadband users after a researcher managed to find a security problem with EE routers that allowed him to remote access people’s routers and gather more important and sensitive information.
The problem affects EE customers who have the Brightbox 1 or 2 routers which is likely to be any EE customer who has signed up to them since early 2012 or for older customers who may have upgraded their router to one of the Brightbox routers.
Scott Helme was the person who discovered the security issue before writing up about the security flaw on his blog. What he discovered is that if he could get the WiFi password of one of the routers then he was able to access much more sensitive information such as the EE account holders account password which he believed would give him enough information to get as far as cancelling a customer’s broadband.
In his blog post, Mr Helme said:
“It became apparent that the device leaks access to all kinds of sensitive data to clients on the network and there’s also the possibility to exploit this remotely. It discloses the password of the EE account holder so I can call EE and pass account security, leaving me in a position to go as far as cancelling someone else’s broadband package altogether. In this blog I’m going to cover the various weaknesses present in the EE BrightBox and demonstrate how they can be exploited.”
According to the BBC who have also ran the story, they estimate that there will be around 350,000 EE customers who will be affected and be in need of the upgrade which EE say will be sent out automatically by the end of the month.
The best thing for EE customers who have a Brightbox 1 or 2 to do is to make sure that they don’t give out their WiFi password and to be very vigilant that they don’t get caught out by a phishing attack getting them to hand over any personal information or passwords.
A £10 million fund from the government to help get superfast broadband to the predicted 5% of the country that will not be covered by the existing Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funded programme has had more details revealed about it today.
The fund was originally announced in December by The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and today they have released a few more details as to who they want to bid for the funds. They are after companies who can offer alternative technology to help reach those in the final 5% of premises that will still need connecting. The potential technologies that will be looked at may include 4G, fibre direct to premises, improved fibre to the cabinet and extending it further down the network and also satellite.
Maria Miller, Secretary for State and Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“If we want to ensure that that all communities can benefit then we need to think imaginatively about alternative technology, and the pilots enabled by the £10m fund will be instrumental in helping us overcome the challenges of reaching the final 5% of premises.”
Currently the UK has a target of 95% coverage of premises with superfast broadband by the end of 2017, much of this has been done by BT & Virgin Media with their own fibre optic networks, however for the areas that BT & Virgin didn’t deem financially viable to roll out their networks to there has been a £1.1bn fund from the government to help extend the superfast broadband network to cover 95% of the UK. On the whole it is BT who has won the contracts for the government funds along with local councils having to match some funding too.
Chris Townsend has become the new Broadband Chief Executive, he was one of the people beind the London 2012 Olympic Games and will take on being in charge of the Broadband Delivery UK programme which also includes the extra £10 million for the remaining 5%.
Mr Townsend, said:
“Ensuring that broadband can reach businesses and consumers across the country is one of the most important policies in Government. Faster connections will improve the way people live, work and spend their leisure time. I look forward to starting my new role as chief executive of BDUK and building on the good work being done to get superfast broadband to people all over the UK.”
BT has named the former head of HSBC UK, Joe Garner, as the new CEO of BT Openreach, the division of BT that is responsible for the roll out of fibre optic broadband.
BT’s current CEO, Liv Garfield, is due to step down mid-February to take over at Severn Trent, the water company and this left the position available for Joe Garner who left his previous role as head of HSBC UK in 2012 and in other jobs before that he has worked for Dixons and Procter & Gamble. BT will have looked at some of his previous jobs and positions and seen that he is a man who can perform well in highly regulated areas and succeed. BT were keen to point out that Mr Garner was in charge at HSBC through the financial crisis and that he helped lead the bank to be No.1 bank for service in First Direct and that while he was at HSBC in the UK he achieved the best long-term record on customer complaints amongst the major banks as well as industry-beating levels of employee engagement.
Mr Garner, said:
“I am thrilled to be joining Openreach at such a critical moment – a moment when technology is redefining how our society communicates. The massive investment that Openreach is making in the UK’s high speed internet infrastructure is something of a revolution that will greatly benefit people and businesses in this country. I am grateful to my predecessor and the engineers who have already delivered so much. It is my ambition to build on this work and I intend to focus on customer service, continued innovation and maintaining fair and equal access for all.”
The big target for Mr Garner will be to make sure he keeps meeting the UK targets for roll out of fibre optic broadband across the UK with the current target of 95% coverage across the UK with fibre optic broadband by the end of 2017.
100,000 homes and businesses in Wales can now access superfast fibre optic broadband as the Superfast Cymru Project continues to help with the funding of the next generation broadband.
The Superfast Cymru Project is the scheme that the UK Government have put £57m in to to help fund the deployment and roll out of fibre optic broadband to areas of Wales where BT and Virgin Media themselves wouldn’t have covered by themselves. It is much the same as the BDUK Project (Broadband Delivery UK) that has a large pot of money that is being used to help with rolling out superfast broadband across the UK.
What is usually required for funding to be given to an area is for the local council and also BT to also dip into their pockets to help fund the rollout to the specified areas. The original target had been for 100,000 homes and businesses to have been connected by the end of 2013, so with us only being 9 days over that target we don’t think that was a bad estimate. The longer term target now is to reach 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by the end of 2015 and in total it should see around an extra 690,000 properties able to connect to superfast broadband that would have been left without otherwise.
The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, said:
“It’s brilliant news that more than 100,000 Welsh homes and businesses are already gaining real social and commercial advantages as a result of the nationwide rollout.
The contribution that the Governments’ delivery of superfast broadband by 2017 will make to the economic growth of the nation cannot be underestimated.”