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BT's slice of the UK's broadband market is sliding so fast it has missed a key market share target it set just eight months ago.

Yesterday, the company published "record" broadband numbers in a bid to counter negative reports about its recent performance. Yet the move has backfired because the figures also reveal that its retail market share has dropped to under 40 per cent.

The figure is important because in March, BT said that it wanted to "maintain a 40 per cent plus share of the retail DSL sector". Yet the figures published yesterday showed that of the 3.33m wholesale DSL lines in circulation, 1.28m were operated by BT Retail.

BT's own figures show that its slice of the UK's DSL sector has slipped to 38.9 per cent - below its "40 per cent plus" target. The scale of BT's slide is even more acute when you consider that at the beginning of the year BT Retail's share of DSL - via its BT Broadband and BT Yahoo! Broadband brands - was 46 per cent.

BT's continuing loss of market share raises concerns that the telco is failing to make the most from the millions it has invested in promoting its broadband products. Coupled with BT Retail's mass exodus of voice customers, this is yet another headache for the company, which publishes its latest financial results next week.

One industry insider expressed surprise at how quickly BT Retail's lead is being eaten away and is unsure how BT can stop the rot, especially since Wanadoo UK and AOL UK have both passed the 500,000 subscriber milestone.

A spokesman for BT confirmed that BT Retail's market share has dipped below the all-important 40 per cent but explained that it just showed the highly competitive nature of the UK's broadband sector.

"This is proof of what we've been saying - it's tough for [BT] Retail to compete in this space," he said. ®

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