BT on verge of two-millionth broadband customer

The move from old-hat services such as leased lines to new-wave technologies such as ADSL is saving customers money, but hitting BT's wallet

BT, the UK's dominant telco, will connect its two-millionth ADSL customer within the next few days as public interest in broadband technologies continues to increase.

The impending milestone illustrates how much progress has been achieved in the creation of Broadband Britain over the last two years.

In BT's third-quarter financial results, published on Thursday morning, the company disclosed that it had connected 1.93 million ADSL users by last week. Around 9,000 additional orders are being handled by BT every working day -- a faster rate than ever before.

According to chief executive Ben Verwaayen, this is an example of how the UK's telecoms market is being transformed by the availability of faster, innovative services.

"The momentum of this transformation is building with broadband volumes now approaching two million lines and we are now taking orders of over 45,000 per week. In addition, we are becoming a major international ICT solutions provider with well over £2bn of orders in this quarter alone," said Verwaayen.

The broadband boom has a downside for BT, though. While income from "new wave" services such as broadband, mobility products and managed services was up 31 percent compared to a year ago at £838m, this was more than offset by an 8 percent drop in its traditional revenues.

This is partly because some companies and individuals have ditched their leased lines or ISDN connections in favour of ADSL, which can be significantly cheaper.

Analysts have welcomed BT's performance with these "new wave" services, but warned that the company has to increase its growth in this area while slowing the decline in its traditional revenues.

"On the back of some very impressive wins in the ICT space such as the NHS National Programme for IT, and a continued growth in broadband lines, we can see that there is strong evidence their aim to grow the new is working. BT is to be applauded for this," said Ovum research director Mike Cansfield.

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