BT hits best sales figures for 3 years

BT GROUP beat the City's expectations of revenue growth yesterday when it revealed that sales increased for the fourth quarter in succession, despite falling income from its traditional fixed-line business.

In an aggressive move to boost further its revenues from so-called "new wave" operations, BT used its third-quarter results to announce a quadrupling of its standard broadband internet speeds - but at no extra cost - for 1.4 million customers.

BT said it achieved a 26 per cent market share of net new broadband subscribers in the third quarter, well below its overall market share of 36 per cent.

To protect its position, Ian Livingston, the new chief executive of BT Retail, has decided his first act will be to increase standard connection speeds from 512 kilobits per second to 2 megabits per second but without increasing prices.

Mr Livingston said: "BT is offering customers on the information superhighway a swap of their Ford for a Ferrari - at no extra cost. More and more people are enjoying online gaming, on-demand music and video over the net. Today's announcement will also help businesses maximise the massive opportunities offered by online trading and teleworking."

BT said group turnover rose 3 per cent to pounds 4.6bn in the three months to 31 December - its best quarterly rise in three years and the fourth consecutive quarter of growth. Underlying profit was up 4 per cent at pounds 545m while turnover from its "new wave" businesses - information and communication technology for companies, broadband connections and a new mobile phone business - was up 35 per cent at pounds 1.1bn or 25 per cent of group turnover.

Turnover from its fixed-line business fell, down 4 per cent at pounds 3.4bn, but the rate of decline was the slowest for 18 months.

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