BT switches on more TV viewers and broadband users than Sky

Profits climb 15 per cent on brisk broadband sales as telecoms giant beats analysts' expectations

BT outpaced its rivals in the broadband internet market as it picked up 166,000 new customers in the third quarter, helping the company beat profit expectations. Wins for the group's television service, BT Vision, also outpaced Sky for the first time ever.

The telecoms giant increased its net new broadband users by 46 per cent in the three months to 30 September, compated with a year earlier. Its total broadband customers rise to six million. Sky added 150,000 subscribers in the same period, but only 19,100 joined Virgin.

BT managed beat analysts' expectations across the board. Its third-quarter pre-tax profit jumped by 15 per cent to £570m year on year, as underlying revenues rose 0.4 per cent to £4.8bn. Its shares closed up 2.8 per cent last night at 192.7p after the chief executive, Ian Livingston, praised what he called "another quarter of progress".

Morten Singleton, an analyst at Investec, said: "BT is proving to be the resilient port in the storm."

Mr Livingston, who has guided BT through a turbulent period for two years, preferred to remain cautious, saying: "This was a pretty reasonable set of numbers. With a double digit growth in earnings we are pretty happy."

BT Vision grew faster than Sky TV, although from a significantly lower customer base. The former, which launched four years ago, achieved a two-year high of 41,000 net additions. Over the same period, Sky TV added 26,000 new users.

BT also said it outpaced Virgin Media, although with new customers being brought on to its TiVo service, Virgin disputes the claim.

A spokesman for BT Vision admitted it was growing from a significantly smaller base than its rivals, of 638,000. Virgin has more than 3.7 million subscribers and Sky more than 10 million.

BT's retail division saw its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation increase from £414m in the second quarter of 2010 to £445m a year later. Despite a strong three months across the group, BT chose not to raise its expectations for the full-year results.

"This strengthens expectations but doesn't change them," Mr Livingston said. "There are some headwinds, particularly in the small and medium-sized enterprises market. They are spending less on IT, and we are seeing some effects there."

The company also revealed yesterday that it was planning to move into music streaming next year. Mr Livingston said: "We'd like to offer music services and we are talking to the industry." It follows a similar partnership between Virgin and Spotify, and the short-lived Sky Songs, which closed last year owing to lack of demand.

BT's global services division, which forced the company to post a full-year loss of £1.3bn in May 2009, continued to recover. Its revenues and profits grew, and it hopes to achieve further growth in Latin America. Global services has secured a series of heavy-hitting clients including B&Q's parent company Kingfisher, the Co-op and Best Buy Europe. "We're heading in the right direction," Mr Livingston added. "The team is doing a good job, but there is more to do."

Earlier this week, BT said it had accelerated its roll-out of fibre-optic broadand to reach two-thirds of the UK by 2014 – a year earlier than planned.

Best buy deal coup for BT

Of all the contracts BT's global services division won in the third quarter, it was particularly proud of Best Buy Europe. Insiders said BT snatched the job away from rival TalkTalk Business – a slap in the face for the latter, which demerged from Best Buy Europe last year.

But Best Buy dampened the triumphalism, saying BT had provided its corporate and store infrastructure for years, and the latest win was for ancillary services. TalkTalk will still provide services including its voice networks.

Nick Clark

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific