BT stands ready to play its part in achieving Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s plan to leak a full fiber broadband across Britain, but said it needed it to make a fair return to £ 30bn that the plan would cost the industry.
Chief Executive Philip Jansen on Friday said, “We welcome the government‘s ambition for a broadband broadband nationwide and are confident that we will see further steps to stimulate investment.”
“We are ready to play our part to accelerate the pace of the meeting, in a way that will benefit both the country and our shareholders, and we are engaging with the government and Ofcom.”
Johnson said Britain had to leave a broad fiber network across all homes and businesses to boost the economy in its campaign to become prime minister and after taking office last month.
He said a government target for full fiber coverage by 2033 was “ridiculously unclear”.
BT, the UK’s largest broadband and broadband operator, is laying fibers at 4m local by March 2021 and planning another 15m by mid 2020 if the government and regulator are worth the cost.
Jansen said BT would have to “reset its priorities”, and could increase borrowing and possibly cut its dividend.
“But if it made economic sense and is a well-balanced equity risk reward equation, then our shareholders would be more than happy for us to make the decision,” he said.
The CEO said extending the plan to Britain’s 32 million homes and businesses by 2025 would be an important engineering move that would require investment, significant planning and also manpower.
BT would need another 30,000 engineers on top of the 5,000 already deployed fiber at 20,000 locally a week, he said.
But the government had to take decisive action to allow BT to make a fair return, mandating that customers switch to ultrafast service and give telecom firms the same permission to excavate roads and access sites as others.
“If we can do that, then I know that BT can go even faster and further than our current ambitions to build fiber,” Jansen told reporters.
The BT network, which operates at arm’s length, is also used by providers such as Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone.
Shares in BT, which have lost 60% of their value since February 2016, fell about 4%, their lowest in about seven and a half years, after Friday’s first-quarter results.
The company reported a 1% drop in adjusted revenue to 5.63 billion pounds and adjusted base income to 1.96 billion pounds, both just ahead of market expectations.
But analysts said she lost forecasts in her customer division and relied on a “other” contribution, such as the return of bonus accruals.
“We are concerned that BT will experience more competition in both the consumer and wholesale segments, which coupled with the risk of higher capex FTTP keeps us at Sell,” Deutsche Bank said.
The clear return
CFO Simon Lowth said Ofcom had considered that 15% was a fair return on previous “cabinet fiber” investments, and this was a clear benchmark on the returns needed to drive “fiber to the premises”.
“Fiber to the Cabinet” uses existing copper wires for final connection to customer homes, while “Fiber to the Premises” is the gold standard, offering speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.
Chris Watson, TMC’s global head at law firm CMS, said: “While telecommunications companies like BT will be keen to accelerate government ambitions for a full-band broadband, the cost of FTTP rollout and support infrastructure will it should be tempered if the United Kingdom comes close to achieving this. ”
He said new legislation and full fiber regulatory reforms to boost investment and competition were needed and the transition from copper to FTTP infrastructure should be accelerated by industry co-ordination with Ofcom./Investing.com