BT to subsidise broadband ad blitz

A surge of BT-subsidised broadband marketing, costing millions of pounds, is just round the corner

Over 40 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are poised to launch broadband marketing campaigns that have been subsidised by BT.

As ZDNet UK first reported back in January, BT is committing several million pounds to the initiative, which is an attempt to give another boost to the take-up of consumer high-speed Internet services in Britain.

ISPs who offer broadband services based on BT Wholesale's ADSL products were invited to apply back in December, and BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen said on Thursday that the campaign will start very soon.

"BT's commitment to broadband doesn't just extend to the pricing, but also covers marketing," said Verwaayen, speaking at a press conference for BT's fourth quarter and full year financial results.

"A total of 41 ISPs are about to start advertising their broadband services, so the public are going to see a lot of positive marketing messages," Verwaayen added.

Since taking over as chief executive of BT at the start of this year, Verwaayen has won praise for putting broadband at the forefront of the telco giant's agenda. BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland -- who some observers thought might clash with Verwaayen -- paid tribute to the way that the "flying Dutchman" had "hit the floor running, and running fast".

City investors were generally pleased with BT's financial results, even though pre-tax profits in the year to 31 March, 2002, fell 28 percent to £1.27bn, from £1.76bn the previous year. The company has made very significant progress in reducing its previously mammoth debt, which is now £13.7bn -- compared to £27.9bn a year ago.

BT is proposing to pay a dividend of 2p per share -- which helped to drive its share price up to 279p, a rise of almost 9 percent on the day.

At the press conference, Sir Christopher Bland took the opportunity to robustly reject the recommendation made last month by the select committee of Culture, Media and Sport that regulators should consider splitting BT's network division from its retail operations.

"The select committee doesn't have to run BT. We do," declared Bland. "Such a split would not be in the interest of customers, BT, or UK Plc," he insisted.

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