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BT boosted by broadband demand
BT added more than 80,000 broadband customers in the three months to the end of September
BT has unveiled a further rise in broadband and television customers as the telecoms giant stared down a competitive march from its rivals.
The group added 81,000 retail broadband customers in the quarter to September 30, nearly half of net additions across the whole market, while its television service BT Vision increased its base by 21,000 to more than 750,000 subscribers.
The steady growth comes as competitors bolster their own services with Virgin Media and Sky launching internet-connected TV products TiVo and Now TV respectively.
Elsewhere, BT cut its revenue outlook for the full year as problems in the eurozone and the financial sector hit its business-focused Global Services division.
BT - Britain's biggest fixed-line telecoms company - reported a 9% drop in headline revenue to £4.5 billion, missing City forecasts of £4.6 billion.
However, far-reaching cost cutting helped the group deliver a 7% rise in pre-tax profits to £608 million, which beat analyst expectations.
BT Retail - the consumer-facing division - saw revenues drop 3% to £1.8 billion in the quarter, while its operating profits rose 10% to £376 million. The division added 160,000 customers to its superfast fibre-broadband service, with the total base now more than 850,000 or 14% of its total broadband customers.
The increase in BT Vision customers in the third quarter came as the company announced an agreement for broadcast rights for Premier League football and Premiership rugby. BT Sport will launch next summer.
Meanwhile, BT announced a further speeding-up of its commercial fibre broadband roll-out, which will see it pass two thirds of UK premises during spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of its original target of the end of 2015.
Shares in the group rose more than 5% after the update. Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said: "BT continues to act as something of a corporate bellwether, with global economic uncertainties impacting company confidence. As a result, the group's Global Services division has suffered disproportionately compared to its retail division."