Increased network investment at BT hits profits

(Image credit: BT)

Profits and revenues at BT fell during the first half of 2019 as the company increased its investment in fibre infrastructure and continued its ongoing restructure.

Revenues fell by two per cent to £11.4 billion, with the company attributing the drop to regulatory factors and declines in legacy products, as net profits fell to £1.3 billion.

However the figures were largely in line with expectations and investors’ dividend has been maintained despite speculation it could be cut to fund network expansion.

BT results

BT has increased its fibre rollout target to four million properties by 2021 and 15 million by the mid-2020s, with Openreach now connecting a property every 26 seconds. However, capital expenditure increased to £1.9 billion. BT is also investing in its 5G rollout and recently agreed to participate in a £1 billion Shared Rural Network programme to improve rural 4G coverage

CEO Philip Jansen pointed to the investments, and to the launch of new converged network services and customer service initiatives, as evidence that the company is on the right track. He also pointed out that the company’s restructuring had saved £1.1 billion to date – offsetting some of the infrastructure investment costs.

“We’ve accelerated our 5G and FTTP rollouts, introduced an enhanced range of product and service initiatives for both consumer and business segments, and announced price and technology commitments to deliver fair, predictable and competitive pricing for customers,” he said.

Openreach announced a further 29 locations in its build plan to reach 4m premises by March 2021, and we continue to make positive progress with Government and Ofcom on the enablers to stimulate further investment in full fibre.

“We continue to make progress on the BT modernisation agenda, delivering over £1.1bn in annualised cost savings, and announcing locations in our Better Workplace Programme.”

Openreach is pressing ahead with its rollout, connecting a property every 26 seconds, as The government wants BT to go even further, and has pledged £5 billion in public funding to accelerate deployment. Details of how the subsidy will be distributed are unclear and the plans are now subject to the outcome of the 2019 General Election.

EE 5G is now available in 20 major towns and cities, with expansion set to continue next year.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.