BT was sufficiently impressed with take-up of its recently-launched consumer mobile service, BT Mobile, to announce that its range of SIM-only offers had attracted over 50,000 customers in the space of six weeks.
The UK incumbent was nonetheless coy about its business mobile services, refusing to disclose take-up figures for its Cloud Phone (BT One Phone) launched in June last year, other than to say there were “encouraging signs”.
Although BT Mobile, available only to existing BT broadband subscribers, represents barely a blip on the UK mobile market, rivals will note once again the words of CEO Gavin Patterson (pictured) – speaking at the firm’s Q4 results – that there will be an “acceleration” of BT’s mobile strategy following the acquisition of EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator.
The £12.5 billion takeover needs approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which BT anticipates by March 2016. Until then, BT’s business and consumer mobile services are offered courtesy of an MVNO deal with EE.
Rival operators might also remember Patterson’s words when he explained the move for EE at a press conference earlier this year: “We expect significant demand in the market for fixed and mobile converged products, and we will [be] better equipped than anyone else in the UK to offer these services and meet the changing needs of UK consumers,” he said.
Leaving aside whether or not there will indeed be a strong demand for quad-play services, BT’s Q4 results demonstrated growing momentum in other parts of its business that could make up an attractive fixed and mobile bundle.
By the end of March, BT Sport subscribers reached 3.3 million (and 5.2 million when wholesale customers are thrown into the mix).
Those figures may well jump much further this summer, when a three-year exclusive deal kicks off for BT to show UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football in the UK.
BT TV customers stood at 1.1 million subscribers end-March, up 14 per cent year-on-year.
Fixed broadband is showing strong growth, too. Net adds of BT retail fibre broadband customers were 266,000 during Q4 – its best-ever quarter. Patterson said that 39 per cent of BT’s broadband customer base now had fibre connections.
The strong performance in fibre, combined with costs cuts, helped BT report full-year core earnings (EBITDA) of £6.27 billion versus market expectations, according to Reuters, of £6.22 billion.