Bullish Jansen questions need for choice

BT’s trading update for the nine months to 31 December 2022 showed a fall in revenues but a massive growth in profit in what the company described as ‘strong performance in tough market conditions.’

Neil Shah, Director of Content and Strategy at Edison Group, reaffirmed BT’s own statement saying “Today’s announcement from BT Group is a welcome one for investors and only just below market expectations. The company reiterated its full-year outlook, despite seeing third-quarter revenues slip by 3% to £5.2bn, with adjusted earnings rising 2% to £2.01bn.”

Post-tax profit grew 49 per cent to £1.3billion for the latter nine months of 2022, although revenue fell 3%. The strong performance was driven on one hand by the formation of a 50-50 JV with Warner Bros. Discovery, boosting the division’s underlying earnings by 15%, and on the other hand by the performance  of the group around fibre-to-the-premises customers.

It was the latter area that prompted Philip Jansen, Chief Executive, to say “On full fibre, we’re building – and now connecting – like fury: 9.6 million premises reached to date, with 29% already connected”.

More controversially he is quoted by the Financial Times as later saying “There is only going to be one national network,” and “Why do you need to have multiple providers?”

It is likely to be these latter comments that will likely draw ire from the likes of CityFibre and VirginMedia O2 as will Jansen’s comment that the market would ultimately be just a “couple of big players” a process that would “end in tears” for many of the other operators.

CityFibre’s Greg Mesch in particular said publicly at Connected Britain in 2019 that “that no one operator can deliver on the UK’s fibre targets alone” and the company has just reported 2022 to be their most productive year ever, with the network footprint increasing 83%. However yesterday CityFibre showed its not all plain sailing, announcing a restructuring process that could result in up to 20% of their 2,000 strong workforce losing their jobs.

Greg Mesch, CityFibre’s CEO stressed the need to take responsible financial and operational decisions saying, “The UK’s economy is struggling, and this is affecting both the market and our customers.”

How many operators can the UK market support? Join the debate around the rollout of fibre networks at our Connected North event in Manchester this April. Find out more here.

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