back to article Plunging BT sales hit every branch of the biz on way down

BT reported to the City this morning a total revenue fall of 6 per cent for the national telco's final three months of 2012. It said sales, excluding specific items relating to "regulatory decisions" on historic Ethernet pricing, hit £4.5bn during the period, down from £4.77bn a year earlier. Adjusted pre-tax profit climbed 7 …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they turn it around, I know this might not be popular but BT are a great company.

    1. Captain TickTock
      Trollface

      Bad troll, bad troll!

      Go to your box!

    2. FanMan
      Alert

      well, kinda

      If you can get through to the tech guys they are the salt of the earth, best in the business.

      Their sales people, on the other hand, - if you can get through at all - 20 mins is not uncommon - are half-deaf, disconsolate, script-driven automata with the attention span of elderly goldfish.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        @FanMan

        I would up-vote you, but I have never got through to a human at BT in under 40 minutes. I have seen a BT engineer sitting in his van for 45 minutes waiting for his boss to answer the phone. Once I do get through, the rep says I should have called a different number. An hour later I can talk to a rep on the other number and find out I should have called the first number. While this lunacy persists, I consider BT the supplier of last resort.

        1. Joseph Lord
          Facepalm

          Re: @FanMan

          It's always been a puzzle to me why phone companies are so bad at doing business on the phone rather than giving customers a better example.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @FanMan

            "we're the phone company. We don't care. We don't have to" (Lily Tomlin, SNL, sometime in the 80s)

    3. Shagbag

      "The continued impact of regulatory price changes reduced revenue"

      ...in other words:

      "consumers were paying too much, we didn't want to lower our prices, but the regulator forced us to."

      1. This Side Up
        Thumb Down

        Re: "The continued impact of regulatory price changes reduced revenue"

        Lowered their prices? The problem is that they raise their line rentals and make you pay for a "package" whether you want one or not. I jumped ship to Primus.

        And then they fart about with fibre to the cabinet. Give me fibre to the premeses at a sensible price and I might be interested.

    4. Cynical Shopper

      Small print

      Let me correct that:

      I hope they turn it around, I know this might not be popular but BT are a great* company.

      * for 3 months, then crap thereafter. Plus line rental.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Small print

        I think you meant a company that grates.

    5. envmod
      Happy

      *claps*

      you are a brave man and i applaud this. BT are indeed, a great company. sure they have problems, but name one other company of comparable size that doesn't.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: *claps*

        Much of the dislike seems to be based on them refusing to sell high speed broadband at a loss in areas where there's little demand. The absence of anyone else diving in to grab a share of that loss-making market is then seen as evidence of a monopoly.

        1. Steve Barnett
          Unhappy

          Re: *claps*

          Oh I do wish they would stop bleating on about it - The quid pro quo for BT maintaining a monopoly position through Openreach is that they have a duty to supply 'loss making' connections. Remember this is a business built over many many years as a public service using public money sold for a fraction of it's value to the private sector

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: *claps*

            The only way to force BT to play fair with Openreach would be a 100% split - Separate shares, BoD and Exectives - as happened in Australia and NZ. Chinese walls have a lot of leaks in them, starting with the big BT logos on vans notionally operated 100% independently of the parent company.

        2. richard 7
          Mushroom

          Re: *claps*

          No, its because they are shit. They have utterly lost touch with their customer base, increasingly the only engineers left are the ones that dont have a clue and they continue to bleat and whine about EVERYTHING while still treating theyir customers with complete and utter contempt.

          No I dont like them, but having cost me £1000s through complete ineptitute I think I'm entitled to.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: *claps*

          They're also known for pulling stunts to discourage (or prevent) outfits from rolling out broadband where BT is the only supplier (or there is no BB supplier) in order to hold onto the ability to charge higher prices in those areas.

          ie: They'll say an area's uneconomic until the cows come home, but if anyone else starts offering radio or other bb services in the area that tune suddenly changes.

          The classic example of this is what happened in Ewhurst, Surrey. After killing an eu-funded rollout which was already underway they then took another 2 years to do the job themselves.

          That's after bankrupting a couple of microwave BB providers in surroudning areas (Forest Green, Ockley and others) by rolling out ADSL on an emergency basis when the rival companies had established there was a market and annouced availability of services.

          That anticompetitive behaviour, by the way, is why FTTC rollouts suddenly hang and start taking far longer than originally announced. OFT say they've taken note of my concerns but they fail to see that there is market distortion going on.

    6. Naadir Jeewa
      FAIL

      Well, OpenReach can't deliver a phone line to 50 residences, including me, in the middle of London in 2 and a half months, so I'm not shedding any tears.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Magister

    Churn

    >>the company said that it had added 122,000 broadband customers during the quarter <<

    No indication of the churn rate though, which is actually a more important indication of the way things are going. It's inevitable that they will lose customers due to company movements, closures etc; but they should also be looking in more depth at where and why they lose out.

    Is it just people taking advantages of new deals, or is it more a case that people move because of poor service? (as in my case) It costs a lot more to get a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer; this is an old adage, but still very true. I supoose that being very cynical, I shouldn't be surprised that marketing people seem to forget this, but I do still find it astonishing.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Churn

      The churn rate with BT broadband would be interesting, as I suspect that the majority of churn would be between BT Retail over Openreach ADSL and third-party ISP over Openreach ADSL ... So whilst not good, not as bad as churning from Vodafone to Three for example.

  4. jason 7 Silver badge

    Please........

    ....can we have broadband only lines. I'm fed up paying for landline usage that I don't use.

    Just bundle the whole thing together and switch off the voice calls.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Please........

      You are assuming that if they did offer data-only lines, that they would use less equipment to justify a rebate.

      The cost of provisioning the service from your home to the exchange would be the same, most if not all of the stuff at the exchange would be the same, and from the exchange to the rest of the network is all IP now for both voice and data anyway, so again would be the same. There would not be much of an equipment saving.

      Bundling it all together is pretty much what they do. The line rental that I think you may be complaining about is not the cost of the voice service, it's the cost of connecting your house to the exchange. This is necessary whether you use voice, voice and data, or data only.

      Why not just use their Unlimited Broadband package, and not plug in a phone? The only bit you would be 'saving' on by not using it would be the free weekend calls, and bearing in mind that voice traffic bandwidth was traditionally low over the weekend (so is low cost to BT), it is unlikely they would offer much of a rebate anyway, so how much do you think you would save?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please........

        "from the exchange to the rest of the network is all IP now for both voice and data anyway"

        No it's not. Voice is still TDM with SDH transmission between nodes. Only 4G mobile networks use IP for Voice in the UK, everything else is one flavour or another of TDM. BT offers IP interconnect for other operators at the trunk layer, but that's converted to TDM when it gets into the network.

        1. Tom C

          Re: Please........

          The voice backbone was converted to ATM (IP) over fibre with the introduction of BTs 20th century network (20CN). The 21CN backbone is now well under way - replacing the ATM circuits (Which replaced the TDM/SDH circuits).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Please........

            "The 21CN backbone is now well under way"

            Really?

            21CN for voice and broadband was rolled out with massive publicity a few years back.

            21CN for broadband continues, but wasn't the megaprogramme for 21CN voice abandoned (with very little publicity) a couple of years back, after connecting a negligible number of customers?

      2. Lallabalalla
        Thumb Down

        Re: Please........

        If you don't plug in a phone and never make any evening & weekend calls you will suddenly find that you are being billed for your "free evening and weekend calls" facility, due to not having made any.

        BT suck.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Please........ @lallabalalla

          Your not being billed for it seperately, so you are only paying an unquantifiable amount for it.

          My assertion is that as BT provide it by using otherwise unused spare capacity at weekends, it costs them effectively nothing to include, and they are unlikely to ever offer a package at lower cost that does not have this particular feature. They may offer a data only package, but I bet it would work out the same.

          1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
            Headmaster

            @Myself

            Bollocks. That shoud read "You're", not "Your".

      3. This Side Up
        Stop

        Re: Please........ [re. data only connection]

        "The cost of provisioning the service from your home to the exchange would be the same, most if not all of the stuff at the exchange would be the same, and from the exchange to the rest of the network is all IP now for both voice and data anyway, so again would be the same. There would not be much of an equipment saving."

        Well you wouldn't need to provide dial tone, support LD and DTMF dialling, number translation, ring tone, call set-up and clear-down, call billing ... you wouldn't even need a directory number.

        Incidentally I think BT still has a light user tariff but you can't have it with broadband.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: Please........ [re. data only connection] @This Side Up

          And the cost of all of these physical things..... very little (probably a single electronics module, provisioned in bulk, which would probably be installed anyway even if they did offer a data only service). Anything that is shared or managed centrally (like call-set up, breakdown and billing) would not be any different.

          Your argument goes back to old fasioned exchanges (pre System X) where things like ring and dialtone generators were seperate pieces of hardware shared between a small numer of telephone lines.

      4. Lost in Cyberspace

        Re: Please........

        If you try and save as much as possible by paying annual line rental upfront, they then charge you for NOT making calls...

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Please........

        Compare the price of Virgin "Broadband Only" to the bundles, you'll see that it doesnt save you much due to using almost the same equipment, bandwidth etc

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Please........

      >can we have broadband only lines.

      I seem to remember BE (?) offering a line that didn't reserve a phone 'channel' and used the full bandwidth of the line for ADSL on the basis that voice was rarely used, so most of the time line capacity was being wasted. However, they did supply a VoIP phone.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Please........ @Roland6

        Normal ADSL services uses frequencies well above voice. As a result, I don't think that their service would have provided any enhanced bandwidth, other than there being no need to install microfilters which may make a slight difference to the signal strength.

  5. Mr Anonymous

    They have a virtual monopoly, of course they (the monopoly) will it turn round.

  6. Mike Pellatt
    Boffin

    This is good news, surely, not bad ??

    Now, let me work that one out. Turnover goes from 4.77bn to 4.5bn, pre-tax profit goes from 628m to 675m

    So net profit margin goes from 13% to 15%. Remind me again of that phrase. Oh yes - "Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity...."

    Seems good news to me, not bad.

    Unless, of course, you're trying to bounce the regulator into doing something to help you continung shaft your competitors and customers. Shurely not.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is good news, surely, not bad ??

      Shares up 5% this morning so the market think it's good news.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A business growing profits in troubled times...

        ...and the market reacts positively (shares up 5% today, up 50% in 18 months).

        Sorry, what was the bad news for BT here?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A business growing profits in troubled times...

          Yes .... story on the financial pages is more along the lines of "BT beats forecasts and profits are up"

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Danegeld** ... How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. :-)

      Regarding that phrase you reminded us of, Mike Pellatt …. Remind me again of that phrase. Oh yes - "Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity…." …. one should never forget and realise that profit is money for nothing and therefore an expense and liability rather than a valuable indicator of real and substantial sustainable worth?* And that is a crazy sanity and quite perverse situation to drive one mad and/or anyone clever and smart enough to search for a handle on leverage which will ensure sanity prevails and one profits from ITs control of such madness in a epic comedy and sad rad parody blighting life. Methinks then does sharing ITs control make one unbelievably and incredibly rich**

      But it is not as if IT's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is unknown news whenever it has been so cleared stated before and shared earlier to the world via cinematic media.

      *Indeed, whenever one considers the exemplar sub-prime world of bank profits, is the accuracy and inconvenient truth in that observation more than just self evident with the result being an ethereal con of colossal proportions.

      ** And it is even possible, and may even be more desirable in order not to alarm armed natives to create a panic and a destructive anarchic chaos, to be made even richer by being paid not to share such IT control because it is too powerful and beyond current present establishment means and memes of executive administrative control ….. which is one spookily Danegeld rich.

  7. Dazed and Confused

    Even OpenReach ...

    That's because they seem to have a deliberate policy of discouraging customers.

    Dear OpenReach,

    Please give me a fibre service I can buy soon.

    Yours sincerely

    A customer willing to buy if you're willing to sell

    And yes, sorry, I do know there are shed loads of people who are worse off in this respect than me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even OpenReach ...

      Same here.

      Asked them to install a phone line two months ago. They didn't bother to turn up to appointments, and seemingly don't want the business.

      No wonder they are losing money.

      Its not like there is any alternative, so they can't blame competitors. They are simply mismanaged.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Even OpenReach ...

        I work for BT myself, and believe me, it's just as frustrating when engineers don't go out for orders. We don't have any direct interaction with the engineers ourselves, so we can't just call them. We have to go through Openreach, who are the middlemen. Getting them to play ball is sometimes really difficult.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical

    As usual El Reg spins this to totally slam BT for no good reason at all. These results were apparently so awful that the share price has gone up by 15p in the space of a few hours.

    You are also lying, because BT Global Services have secured £1.9bn in extra capital which is an increase on 17% from last quarter. Therefore, not *every* part of the Group has done badly.

    This vendetta against BT is childish and I'm surprised you get away with it. Anon for obvious reasons.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Typical

      This is The Register: Pick a vendetta. Weird bias in the reporting is normal business. You just gotta learn to read through the FUD and outright bullshit.

  9. Ted Treen
    Thumb Up

    Speak as you find...

    I've had BT broadband on my Mac for well over 8 years.

    My normal speed varies between 8Mb and 11Mb downstream. I'm on an "up to16Mb" deal, but I'm around 1 mile from the exchange, and my small estate is served by aluminium cables strung from poles!

    I can only recall one temporary outage during that time and I'm happy with the speed I get, considering the infrastructure. I'm in a small-ish village some 7 miles outside Wolverhampton, and we're not in the current Infinity schedules unfortunately. Neither do we have any cable in the village.

    All in all, I've had a pretty trouble-free time with BT so far (touch wood).

    I don't work for BT, and can only speak as I've found. No doubt there will be a rash of down votes from those who dislike anything which doesn't back up their prejudices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speak as you find...

      Part of the reason BT's name is rightly dirt around here is because of the Phorm debacle, when BT illegally intercepted the communications of thousands of their customers.

      So perhaps it's less a case prejudice and more of a case of dislike for an immoral company...

      1. Ted Treen
        Big Brother

        Re: Speak as you find...

        "...BT illegally intercepted the communications of thousands of their customers..."

        Yes, I know it doesn't make it right and all OK, but that was rapidly dealt with.

        However, such illegal shenanigans continue under the auspices of Google, Facebook inter alia and even Her Maj's Gov, courtesy of GCHQ.

        Using the interwebs makes it damn difficult to remain private, without a whole load of effort.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Speak as you find...

          Google, facebook, Yahoo and co only get to use your data if you let them.

          GCHQ has legal powers to snoop on anything you do - but as a rule, "they have better things to do than snoop on you" - this isn't Singapore after all.

          BT had no such legal authority to use a man-in-the-middle attack (phorm) to hand data to a private company (phorm) which would then be used to put unwanted advertising in your face to the profit of that private company.

          Transparent proxying is one thing. Altering what you see is something that's resulted in various malware writers and associated companies having their collars felt.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plunging BT sales hit every branch of the biz ..

    This is the Microsoft Surface effect we didn't hear about?

  11. James 123
    FAIL

    Fiber?

    Surely this should encourage BT to run more fiber and get more infinity customers? im still waiting for them to enable it on the half of the estate i live in... the other half has fiber already and we don't get any virgin cable round there here parts!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fiber?

      The problem is that apart from in densely populated, wealthy areas, rolling out lots of fibre would mean they lose money. You can tell which are those densely populated wealthy areas, they're largely the ones that already have Virgin.

      Virgin and BT both find that less than 10% of households that could have fast broadband actually take it up. Given that number, they're only going to roll out network where they can pass the most households for the least money.

      One remedy would be for prices to be higher in rural areas to cover the cost - but few people will pay £250 a month for broadband. Another would be to do something like the Universal Service Obligation BT has on phone lines - but that would mean probably more than doubling the price of broadband so that urban users can subsidise rural ones - or the government can subsidise it with money it gets from taxpayers.

      1. Ted Treen
        Boffin

        Re: Fiber? - Not necessarily

        "...rolling out lots of fibre would mean they lose money..."

        Not if they flogged the copper cable which was replaced by the fibre - factor that income in, and the picture doesn't look anywhere near so bleak.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fiber?

        "The problem is that apart from in densely populated, wealthy areas, rolling out lots of fibre would mean they lose money. You can tell which are those densely populated wealthy areas, they're largely the ones that already have Virgin."

        Fibre costs a lot less than copper. Most of the phone copper infrastructure in the ground is rotting and a long way past its use-by date. The same arguments were probably being made 100 years ago when phone services were (not) being rolled out in various areas of town.

        If cables have to be replaced it makes sense to do it with fibre. Being able to sell added-value services is just icing on the cake.

  12. Philip Cheeseman
    Thumb Down

    Just wish BT would stop trying to sell me the same service once a week!

    I get calls from BT on an almost weekly basis trying to sell Bt Infinity. When I explain I am not interested (as I'm trying to sell the house so don't want a fixed term contract) and could they not call again with the same offer they apologise, promise not to call again and hang up. This same pattern has been repeating for months. They did the same thing when I had line rental from a different firm. They really need to learn to listen. Can't wait to find another option (that isn't virgin media).

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Just wish BT would stop trying to sell me the same service once a week!

      Complaint to the ICO. They _will_ listen.

      For added fun, invoke the protection from harrassment act next time they call.

  13. orb8

    BT.. Hmmm

    I just want the copper replacing! It's been 40 years since our lines were installed and you can tell that they're getting tired by the huge noise fluctuations a couple of days after any rain has had time to soak-in.

    Surely paying a bill for 40 years should include having the necessary equipment etc updated :/

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shares up a whopping 7% on the day. I suspect many FTSE100 firms would be happy to be "plunging" on news like that.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You forgot to mention...

    ... that hey added 21,000 TV customers and now have 60,000 YouView users.

  16. b166er

    Awwwww BT have had to invest some money :(

    ROFL fuck 'em

  17. CDD
    Coat

    BT Broadband

    Is only a part of what BT actually do, and sits within Retail and Openreach. The rest of us in BT often decry this part of the business, as it is hard to sell Professional Services and Major Programmes to corporate customers, when the buyers have had crappy Broadband services at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BT Broadband

      Oh dear, how sad, too bad.

      Given the shitty treatment my employer has had at the hands of BT (and we spend _millions_ of pounds every year), you don't have much sympathy from me.

      The rot is systemic - not just "retail"

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mr Cross @ el reg

    Shame el reg chose to censor my post earlier - will try again.

    Why does El Reg have it in for BT? I just don't get it. We all want fast broadband don't we? In the absence a government policy to uplift this countries broadband, it's left to private enterprise and in this case BT to put the multi billions into putting infrastructure in place - a move that risks breaking BT financially - only time will tell.

    Surely these results mean that BT can continue that investment which is good for all of us. I don't see the likes of BSkyB investing these huge sums in the infrastructure required - seems they choose to pontificate on the sidelines while profiting from overpriced subscriptions.

    When other telcos step up and risk all on the infrastructure we are all demanding then knock yourself out El Reg but since no one else is - cut them some slack.

    CC

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Mr Cross @ el reg

      "Why does El Reg have it in for BT?"

      We "have it in" for BT as much as any other telco. Go read our archives.

      PS: Welcome to the website. As a new user, your last post was awaiting moderation; that's why it didn't immediately appear.

      C.

  19. The Godfather
    WTF?

    BT - bollock time

    Engineers and techies...brilliant...customer services and phone response....CRAP

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: BT - bollock time

      Can only agree with that, I'm known in family as the 'geek of communications', so whenever a problem shows up with phones, I get called.

      This means I see a lot of the frustration that the techs and engineers suffer. They get watched for time, constantly. They get a major problem, they have to tell the customer 'sorry we can't fix it' and drive off, then another appointment has to be made, etc. etc.

      And ghods help you if it's an intermittent fault, they HAVE to put it as 'no fault found', then you end up fighting a 100 pound plus bill from your phone provider :-( They hate this as much as the customer. Some of them will go out of the way to find a 'fault' (altho not the one reported) , just to avoid the charge to the customer.

      I have been lucky a few times with the customer service part actually. Yes, frequently you get a person who is clearly a script reader, but on several occasions, the person has known shortcuts through the system. And in ONE case, an Indian operator told me, regarding a horrible intermittent ADSL issue, that there were several other calls from the same area, and that it was definitely an exchange issue and would be fixed soon. She was correct.

      Beer, because the engineers quite often deserve one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BT - bollock time

      An example fresh in my mind from BT business.

      Cancelled a broadband service prior to an office move on 22 August 2012. Got final bill, with just short of 2 squid credit on it.

      Yesterday a new bill for 14 squid or so on that account arrives. WTF ???

      Bill queries (India) tell me it's for "Internet Security Software". More WTF ??

      Of course, they can't fix it. Have to put me through to cancellations. Rule 1 of good CS: Handle the customer query to completion at first point of contact. Not that ANY large corp understands that. Well, I'm sure they do understand it - they just don't do it. Still, at least I can be transferred (via "Business reception - a longstanding WTF ??) and don't have to redial.

      So, this "service" is now cancelled too, backdated to 22 August. 15 minutes of my life I'll never get back is now gone for no reason. And BT have collected yet another reason for not doing business with them (as if I needed any more) - the cluestick has stamped on it 'Cancellation means cancellation, not "generate a random bill 5 months later"'

  20. Nick Collingridge

    At some point the market is going to start to have an effect on BT. At present many if not most customers stick to BT because of inertia and more to the point not knowing the true basis on which they pay for their service.

    Do YOU know exactly how much you are paying per minute for different types of calls? BT do not put this information on their bills and even if they did you would find it confused by "call set-up charges" and various other devices, not to mention additional charges for "Calling Features" and so on.

    If Ofgem ever wakes up and makes BT spell out on their bills the basis of the costs you have incurred it will become much easier to compare costs with other providers. At that point the market will kick in properly (at present it is not having much effect) and BT will lose a lot more of their business than they have retained so far.

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