Broadband wars latest: BT bests Virgin but lags BSkyB

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The Independent Online

Telecoms giant BT today claimed that it is winning the broadband and TV war by grabbing more customers than arch-rivals Virgin Media and BSkyB.

TV service BT Vision has picked up 28,000 customers in the last three months – more than Sky and Virgin combined.

BT Retail added 589,000 broadband customers in the year to March, compared with Virgin's 87,000 over the same period.

BT's broadband growth still lagged Sky, which added 702,000, but it remains Britain's biggest broadband provider with 6.3 million retail customers.

Chief executive Ian Livingston cheered the City as he confirmed widely expected plans to hike the dividend by between 10 per cent and 15 per cent for each of the next three years.

That could see the company's payout to its army of over a million small shareholders rise more than half by 2015.

Pre-tax profits surged 42 per cent to £2.44bn despite a 4 per cent slide in revenues to £19.3bn as regulators continue to push down on prices. Mr Livingston said he cut costs and improved margins by "taking complexity and failure out of our process". This had "freed up" staff and cash to invest in new areas such as super-fast broadband.

The company has also had some success in grappling with its historic pension issues. The fund's deficit fell to £3.9bn.