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BT fattens up its sales thanks to hearty fibre+footy diet

But wholesale wing nosedives - AGAIN

Wheat harvest

BT's wholesale wing continued on its downward spiral during the one-time national telco's third quarter, with sales tumbling nine per cent to £589m from £645m a year earlier.

The company's total revenue of £4.6bn for the three-month period ended 31 December 2013 saw modest growth of two per cent as some of BT's other business divisions, including retail and global services, scored a decent quarter.

Pre-tax profit jumped eight per cent to £722m.

BT said its wholesale biz was knocked by a £27m decline in transit revenue.

It added:

Revenue continued to decline in traditional calls and lines, down 14 per cent, and in broadband, down 15 per cent, where lines are migrating to LLU [local-loop unbundling]. These effects were partly offset by strong growth in IP services of 38 per cent.

The telecoms giant warned the City this morning that its final quarter wholesale revenue would be hit by lower fixed call termination rates following Ofcom's review of the narrowband market.

BT's Openreach wing also saw its sales hampered by regulatory meddling. It said that revenue had fallen one per cent after price changes policed by Ofcom had a negative impact of around £70m.

Growth in fibre broadband sales had partly offset the minor slump over at Openreach, which is about to get a new chief.

The company said that it added 339,000 net fibre connections during its Q3, bringing its total Openreach fibre footprint to around 2.4 million properties in Blighty.

Its total Openreach broadband base - which carries mostly fibre-to-the-cabinet tech into homes and businesses over the firm's existing cooper infrastructure - now reaches 18.2 million properties, of which 7.1 million are BT retail customers.

To date, BT said it had inked 44 local council deals under the taxpayer-subsidised Broadband Delivery UK project - which hopes to reach more remote parts of the country where Virgin Media and BT could not justify a business case for private investment.

BT's retail division was the star of the show during the quarter, which was buoyed by fibre broadband take-up and the company's big payout on BT Sport. The latter offering now has 2.5 million subscribers after BT launched the TV channel last year in a move to compete with rival BSkyB.

"Our strategic investments are delivering," said BT chief Gavin Patterson.

Retail revenue grew by 4 per cent during the quarter to £1.87bn from £1.81bn in the same period a year earlier. ®

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