European network gives BT the edge in telecoms race

BRITISH TELECOM will today reveal that it has access to an extensive pan-European telecom network, opening up a potentially huge corporate customer base and allowing it to compete on equal terms with its main competitors.

In a long-awaited update, BT will today for the first time disclose detailed information about its holdings in continental Europe. The figures are expected to show that BT has a more extensive European network than most of its rivals, which include US giants such as WorldCom and AT&T.

BT will show that, just six months after telecom markets in France and Germany were first opened up to competition, its associate companies in those countries have successfully lured hundreds of thousands of customers away from the old state monopolies.

The success of these operators gives BT a large base of corporate customers to which it can sell its international call services. What is more, by using its own networks BT is able to deliver telecom traffic at much cheaper rates than if it had to use the networks owned by established operators.

Over the past few years, BT has been preparing for European telecom deregulation by entering into joint ventures with local operators and joining in the bidding for new mobile telecom licences.

The group now has 12 operating licences in continental Europe, more than any other operator. Although many are held with other utilities and telecom firms, the ability to connect the different operators together effectively gives BT access to a pan-European customer base.

The long-distance networks in each country are designed in the same way, allowing them to be linked together using sophisticated technology. This gives BT a network which stretches across Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands and allows it take on large US operators in the race to supply sophisticated international telephone and data communications services.

Analysts will be keen to hear about progress at Cegetel, the French fixed and mobile operator in which BT holds a 26 per cent stake. The company, which is building a long-distance network in Northern France, is estimated to have signed up more than 200,000 residential customers since launching the service in February. Meanwhile SFR, the group's mobile service, now boasts more than 2.5 million customers - twice the number it had a year ago.

Chris Godsmark, telecoms analyst at stockbroker Henderson Crosthwaite, estimates that BT's stake in Cegetel is now worth pounds 2.2bn, compared with the pounds 1bn that BT paid for it in September 1996.

Analysts are also expecting more financial detail on BT's European businesses. Robert Brace, the group's finance director, surprised investors last month when he predicted that losses in continental Europe would peak at about pounds 300m this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
musicYou'll have to ask Taylor Swift first
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness