BT connects with more broadband and TV numbers

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BT UNVEILED strong gains in both broadband and television customer numbers as the telecoms giant put up a resilient performance in the face of fierce competition from rivals.

Despite the UK growth, the company trimmed its full-year revenue outlook as problems in the eurozone and the financial sector hit its business-focused Global Services division.

The group added 81,000 retail broadband customers in the quarter to 30 September, nearly half of net additions across the whole market, while its television service BT Vision increased its base by 21,000 to more than 750,000 subscribers.

The steady growth came despite competitors bolstering their own services with Virgin Media and Sky launching internet-connected TV products TiVo and Now TV respectively.

Shares surged by almost 6.8 per cent, closing at 227p, and the company’s Scottish chief executive Ian Livingston said it was a solid quarter given the continued tough conditions for the company’s corporate customers. “Whilst it’s a difficult environment in terms of recession and regulatory impacts, we still delivered profit growth,” he said.

But Livingston said the economy, in continental Europe in particular, had stayed weak for longer than he had expected.

“Europe, particularly Mediterranean countries, is difficult. We’ve seen double-digit declines there,” he said, adding that conditions in the banking sector were also tough.

“But we have seen some encouraging signs, both in significant costs reductions and in the order book,” he added.

Overall the group reported a 9 per cent drop in headline revenue to £4.5 billion, below forecasts of £4.6bn. But cost cutting helped the group deliver a 7 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £608m, ahead of expectations.