back to article BT keeps the faith in 'like fury' fiber broadband buildout as revenues dip

BT Group is leaning into its fiber rollout and cost-cutting to balance the books amid a 3 percent drop in revenue for its Q3 ended 31 December. The UK's former state-owned telecom biz reported revenue of £5.2 billion ($6.4 billion) for three months of its fiscal 2023, down from £5.3 billion ($6.5 billion) in the same period …

  1. Roland6 Silver badge

    " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

    So prices will be going up and as broadband is included in the CPI calculation (item 8.2/3), this increase will help to cause a ripple of increases in subsequent years...

    Not sure if I believe BT subscription costs should go up in line with inflation each year, although the laugh is that finance people will present the raw monetary 'increase' in revenues as growth when after inflation it should be simply treading water or even declining (remember those cost savings, some of which should be given back to the customer in the form of below CPI price increases).

    1. Rahbut

      Re: " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

      Surely if they're making cost savings there is less to uplift? Also, unsure why they're not regulated sufficiently so that they can no longer increase prices mid-contract.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

        Price rises mid-contract?

        You mean just like almost all the Mobile contracts out there then? don't they go up by RPI+ "A huge amount" each year?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

          Yes- that's why I now refuse to sign a contract with any of them; I just use a monthly SIM only deal; annoy me and I'll move on at the end of the month.

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

            Paying more than contract rates every month will really spite them.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: " CPI-linked price increases to offset the cost of inflation"

        >Surely if they're making cost savings there is less to uplift?

        Cost savings are about margin improvement; so expect the majority of the monetary gains to improving profits. It will most probably need Ofcom to force BT to give some of the cost savings / margin improvement back to customers in the form of lower prices and or price increases.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moving to FTTH

    If BT were to get their finger out and commission the fibre that was laid in to the pole across the street from me over a year ago, I'd happily pay the extra for full fat fibre... but... I guess the cows will come home first.

    Given that Vermin Media up our street was laid by NTL decades ago and literally creaks between 15:30 and 23:20 during the week, I'm sure that BT would get a lot of cable cutters if there was an alternative to Vermin.

    Come on BT get thy finger out...

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      Always is gobsmacking to look at the maps.

      The number of areas where there is no plan is always surpising (Like Harlow but probably more down to how many people are on Cable).

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Just checked both my home and work locations in Tayside and neither has any plans for BT fibre. However we do have City Fibre here and at least they deliver great speed for the money. Also the local ISP Fibrecast UK is good to deal with and one of those offering services via the City Fibre network.

        I had VM cable and, to be fair, it was usually reliable and fairly speedy, but in recent years I noticed they deliberately throttle VPN use for fsck them!

        1. GlenP Silver badge

          Re: Moving to FTTH

          We generally advise staff working from home to avoid VM, too much hassle with VPNs all round.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Moving to FTTH

          I had VM cable

          We have a Vermin Media network case on the pavement right outside the house. I would only ever take service from them if they were the only ISP available.. (and said so to the door-to-door marketing guy who called by after they had installed it.

          And they need a better class of location case - half the time one of the doors is open and you can see all the gubbins inside. It's really sparsely populated inside. I've just enough decency to stop one of my dogs peeing in it..

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Moving to FTTH

            But the other dog can claim it?

        3. Paul Shirley

          Re: Moving to FTTH

          No plans for our exchange either and probably won't be now City Fibre are in the 'removing the posts where we blocked peoples drives' post-install phase. Which is unfortunate because despite regular pestering to sign up, none of the links City Fibre supplied have yet led to an actual offer of service!

          Astonishingly there are still Virgin subscribers here despite using decades old cabling, a complete lack of maintenance & customer support trained to deny there's any problem to fix when it regularly goes tits up. VM and BT just don't seem interested in competing for our custom here. Left wondering what will happen if they ever notice 5G is cheaper and performs better than either of them currently do (with a caveat for gaming).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Thanks for the link Captain.

        Interesting, on the map we're in a blue-grey area where they are building out now. Occasionally there have been people in hi-vis tops poking about at manhole covers in the road. No promises on times though. If I go to their availability checker then it says now till 2026. Nice and precise that.

        The next band are the orange areas which they say they'll get around to building next. For these they are saying that service will be available within the next year.

        City Fibre are causing total chaos in the next street turning up and digging across people drives without any notification.

        Who knows we might get a choice, or I can have one of each and have A&A bond me a pair to max the reliability. That would be nice.

        1. Captain Scarlet

          Re: Moving to FTTH

          Be prepared for the link to change again, as it seems to move around every few months, but yes lovely and precise!

      3. nematoad

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Thanks for the tip about the map.

        I've just checked and as far as I can see our local fibre supplier will have finished laying fibre before BT have even done 5% of theirs. Our local company are just now laying fibre outside our road, doing it at night to cut down the inconvenience and we are one of the last to be covered, then it will be done. They seem to be moving a rate that puts BTs efforts to shame.

      4. RichardBarrell

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Also the maps are very optimistic. I found out the hard way that in the middles of cities there are places that are marked as wired for FTTP according to the coverage maps, but you can't actually get service. If you try to actually buy it then a small man with a large OpenReach van comes to your home a couple of months later and sadly tells you that there's no way he can get a fibre all the way from the nearest run to where you are. :(

        I assume the root cause of this is that OpenReach get some subsidies or something based on coverage percentages, so they lie about which properties are covered in order to get them without having to pay to actually do the installations.

      5. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Yeah. Here in Oxford they still no plans, according to that map, so I'm left choosing between their generous standard broadband "up to" 24 Mbit (i.e. actually half that) or "superfast" which according to their own figures is even less awesome than than standard, curiously.

        Even though I already have very low expectations of BT, I'm genuinely taken aback by how little they've done and how unambitious their plans are.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: look at the maps

        There is fibre to the pole on the other side of the road from me yet the Openretch site says between now and DEC 2026! WTF are they playing at?

        The fibre was laid in March 2022. Over 4 years? madness.

        1. Captain Scarlet

          Re: look at the maps

          Maybe its the wrong kind of fibre?

          1. Johnb89

            Re: look at the maps

            Reading the article, maybe it's 'fiber' not 'fibre' at all, so will only work if you drive on the right?

      7. Totally not a Cylon

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        Like the others; thanks for the link.

        My area shows as 'building out now' AND we have Openreach vans and various bods all over the place but.....

        'Not available to order yet, give us your details and we'll ignore you for the next few years.......'

        The fibre mess is one of the few things which Thatcher is legitimately responsible for, the plan was for BT (or even GPO might be that old) to replace the entire phone network with fibre back in the 70's but Rediffusion objected as it would hurt their business of supplying cable tv/radio so the phone network stayed as copper/aluminium/wet string......

      8. Trollslayer

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        I can get planned fibre where I live out but not the where I previous.

      9. Lon24

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        The map in our part of south east London shows build completed/planned in areas targetted by community fibre - but not in those where CF doesn't exist. So depending on what postcode you are in you have the choice of two or none. Protecting its base appears to be BT's strategy.

        Galling 'cos back in medieval times when broadband was first rolled out - our exchange was one of the first.

    2. 105kayem

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      Had a problem with my FTTC connection last year, drop outs and speed fluctuations. I’m with Zen and they were exemplary in sorting it out with Openreach. It ended up with new cables being run through ducting and a couple of previous bodge jobs being fixed properly. I was chatting to the supervisor ( it was pissing down outside so I was supplying hot drinks and biscuits to the crew) I asked about FTTP and he said it was something he’d discussed with management but there were no plans to introduce it, even though they new others were sniffing around. A few weeks ago City Fibre turned up and started running fibre ductwork all around our locality.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        City Fibre turned up and started running fibre ductwork all around our locality

        At which point everyone elses fibre started dropping out..

        (See previous post ---^ )

    3. BigAndos

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      I just checked my local exchange and it said “great news we’re building in your exchange right now!” I put in my address for a “personalised view” and it said full fibre available “between now and Dec 2026”. Nice and precise date!

    4. Conercao

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      I'd be glad if they could get their finger out and replace the damaged fibre outside my street... 22 days now.

      I called them on the 12th and told them exactly what was wrong, a pole was down and the fibre was snapped. It then took them 2 weeks to send out a survey team.

      On Tuesday, 3 Openreach vans pulled up to replace fibre and.... they didn't bring any fibre.

      Yesterday, they turned up again with fibre cable, but couldn't find the new telephone pole. Talking to the Openreach engineer, it turns out the sub-contract to replace the pole hadn't even been put out to tender yet...

      Today, I had another group turn up, look at where the old pole had been... get confused, then leave

      The only saving graces are that the 3G is just about good enough to let my WFH (yay! Living in rural areas!) and the £8.40/day "compensation" is starting to rack up... I won't have to pay a BT bill for months at this rate!

    5. Chz

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      There seems to be two things going on that push back FTTH for a lot of people.

      One, based on the very informative map posted above, OpenReach are skipping areas that have heavy Vermin infiltration. This feeds directly into the second reason, which is that they have a mandate from the government to push out full fibre to as much of the country as possible. Which means that they don't really get credit for competing with Vermin when they're already offering a fibre-equivalent service there. And it also means that highly profitable areas in the SouthEast need to be pushed back to get other areas of the country up and running first. The end result being that Community Fibre got to my area first and I'm not seeing a reason why I wouldn't stick with them even when OR get around to this densely populated bit of Outer London. And I say that as someone who was very happy with my BT FTTC offering for a decade straight.

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Moving to FTTH

      I've had FTTP for just over a year now (with Zen). The only downtime is when CityFibre were cabling up the street and managed to knock out my fibre completely - to th extent that BT had to replace the NTE (or whatever they call it nowadays) in my house as it would never get beyond showing a red light - even with a complete power-down and reset.

      CityFibre claimed innocence and tried to blame OpenWoe ("all their work is shoddy so I'm not surprised it failed" was the quote from the cabling gang foreman.. considering I'd just seen one of his workmen jump down into the telecoms duct without bothering to look where he landed I wasn't about to take his word). Or that of the CityFibre project manager tht rang my doorbell 15 minutes later. Or the probably-senoir CF manager that rang my doorbell that evening. At leaast she was willing to help - offering to phone BT and get a call raised as a priority. I'd already contacted Zen and they'd raised a call for me (I have a business-class line as the SLA is considerably better and means that the IP addresses I have are not flagged as residential for anti-spam purposes)

      Strangely, the BT engineer who came to the house said that the majority of the calls he'd had to fix fibre installs were in areas where CityFibre were laying cable..

      (For clarity - CityFibre were using a 3rd-party cabling company to do the work - a German company if I remember correctly. The workers were British though)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moving to FTTH

        "Strangely, the BT engineer who came to the house said that the majority of the calls he'd had to fix fibre installs were in areas where CityFibre were laying cable.."

        Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Misquoting Mandy Rice-Davies

  3. GlenP Silver badge

    CPI +

    Just a few minutes before reading this I had an email from BT that one of our connections is increasing by 14.4% (10.5% CPI + 3.9% "to enable us to continue to invest"). It's an exchange line for the alarm, long out of contract but not worth the hassle of changing.

    I'll reserve judgement if I get a similar notification for the main fibre connections.

    1. FrogsAndChips Silver badge

      Re: CPI +

      Can they really announce that with a straight face? I've been with Hyperoptic for 5+years, not only has my subscription price not changed (it's actually gone down because I moved 5 months ago and got a 2-year promo price) but they also increased my bandwidth from 20/1 to 50/5 over the years at no charge!

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: CPI +

      >It's an exchange line for the alarm, long out of contract but not worth the hassle of changing.

      A little surprised your alarm provider hasn't been in contact about the Openreach Switch Off of the PSTN, due to be completed in 2025...

      It seems most are installing Dualcom units which support both fixed IP network connection and GPRS (yes 2G not 5G...).

  4. hairydog

    Weasel Words

    Yes, the fibre passes my house. What a pity it isn't possible to be connected to that fibre. Seems that the fibre feed goes to poles in either direction, but not to the pole feeding the houses where I live. So it passes, like an express train. I'm not allowed to be a passenger.

    Yes, they have rolled out 5G, though not to here.

    Where I can get 5G on EE, it seems to be exactly the same speed as 4G in the same place. Where's the advantge?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So it passes, like an express train

      Just like Virgin and my home. It was built on a vacant plot after NTL had laid their coax back in the year dot. NTL didn't put in a tap point despite the house being under construction at the time.

      The VM database does not show my house. Go figure.

    2. mrfill

      Re: Weasel Words

      Three years ago to the day we had the road dug up for FTTP. I have a point just 3m from my front door but it is useless.

      We were in a pilot area (Bungay) which was to be fully cabled as a test bed. Just as the cabling was completed on my estate (200 houses), BT suddenly decided that new connections had to be bid for and our lovely new fibre cabling remains unused as it has not been connected up and I'm stuck on a maximum of 50Mbps. Anybody want a load of unused fibre cable?

  5. AndrueC Silver badge

    But "premises passed" implies that while the telco may have laid the fiber infrastructure, not all those homes will have been connected up.

    Just like every other CP undertaking a roll-out then. Given typical take-up rates it rarely if ever makes sense to actually connect properties as you pass them(*). It's far more sensible to wait until the property owner requests connection because then you can charge them for it.

    What isn't sensible as I've posted before is overlaying cables. Here in Brackley (small town in South Northants) Swish appear to have just finished a roll-out and Gigaclear are ramping up. Meanwhile it seems likely that Openreach will be coming here after they finish in Banbury which will probably be this summer. So we're going to end up with three sets of fibre under the pavements with corresponding street workings. This is stupid. All fibre is equal (for a given coverage scenario anyway) so if the industry/government were thinking properly they'd have one company per location and make them share the fibre.

    (*)Except for new-builds where of course you connect up all utilities as a matter of course.

  6. Kernel

    "if the industry/government were thinking properly they'd have one company per location and make them share the fibre."

    That's the way it's done in NZ - there are two companies that provide fibre (and the NTU) for the entire country, and only one of them serves a given area.

    The fibre providers are required to supply connectivity to any retail ISP (on the same terms), so I can get my service from a range of suppliers according to my personal preference - neither of the fibre suppliers are allowed to offer retail internet services.

    Our power is on a similar concept - distribution lines infrastructure provided by companies serving a particular area and not retailing electricity, customer's choice of who they buy their power from via those lines.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Yeah FTTP is the only utility that doesn't share hardware. It's probably a - not unjustified - reaction to BT's monopoly. But BT hasn't been a monopoly for many years and has been providing wholesale services for a long time. That's what irks me about it. We already have a market where ISPs can take over just about anywhere they want and even contract third parties:

      * They can pay BT to deliver the data direct to their own data centre. So all you need to be an ISP is a collection of routers, and a contract with BT.

      * They can rent or install their own backhaul from the exchange.

      * They can install their own kit in the exchanges to unbundle the copper loop.

      * They can rent a port on the FTTC cabinets that BT own.

      There are even independent companies that can you can contract to connect an exchange or at least your POP(s) to your data centre rather than relying on BT.

      Given the expense and work required to roll out a new fibre network it seems stupid that overlay is happening in so many areas.

  7. ScottishYorkshireMan

    Whose money is it?

    How is it that the likes of BT, get piles of taxpayer cash, get to call it their own 'investment' to supply network services and then get to charge Joe and Josephine Taxpayer then to use said network? I guess this is one of the benefits of Tebbit....

  8. Richard 12 Silver badge

    How to get it, though?

    There's fibre run to the top of the pole, but nobody at all seems to want to sell me that final 10m catenary run.

    They all claim the best I can get is 76Mb "fibre".

    BT Openreach have emailed me twice saying it's available, but the link just goes to the same "send me an email when it's available"

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: How to get it, though?

      You think that is bad? We have 12 fibres to our work, put in at great expense so we could get a 1G leased line, and 11 of them are unused.

      Try our exact address in the BT checker and it tells me fibre is not available!

  9. Goonerak

    A couple of things

    If only a certain prime minister hadn't decided she wanted competition from the American cable companies, we might have had a UK-wide FTTH network over 25 years ago.

    I was on an Openreach briefing call on Tuesday. I was surprised to hear that FTTC speeds will be reduced down to 2Mb download as they start to migrate voice services to All-IP.

    My experience of having FTTP services installed by Openreach in inner London is shambolic - still waiting a year on for one of them to be installed. No idea how they are going to get this done by the end of 2025 to support their All-IP directive.

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