Thursday, November 11, 2004

Q3 data points - UK once again

BT Group reported today, and while we knew some of the story from last week's broadband number pre-release, but today there was more of interest. CEO Ben Verwaayen strayed into "strange-but-true factoid" territory with his observation that BT is signing up one new broadband subscriber every 15 seconds (hopefully not all through the same call center!), and that at the end of BT's further DSL expansion, DSL coverage in the UK will exceed that of analogue television, and gas, and approach that of water. This an interesting line to take in light of BT's recent rhetoric on broadband pricing, but it may be a bit dangerous to compare DSL with water and gas transmission, both of which are very highly regulated businesses in the UK.

Apart from the murky rhetoric, we saw a few more stats of interest. BT lost just over half as many lines in residential voice this quarter as last, but in the business market, voice line loss was 2% sequential, or 112k, which is huge. Unbundled DSL lines increased by 6k, taking the total to 0.6% of total DSL lines. This is about as I expected (i.e., miserable and embarrassing compared to the rest of Europe), but mark my words it's coming, or BT wouldn't be considering unbundling itself at the Retail level, which management today confirmed is still on the agenda for discussion. Next week's OFCOM review of the market will probably determine the next step.

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