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BT Sign Up 15 Millionth Broadband Customer Despite Controversial Broadband Speeds

Mon 13 Sep, 2010 // Firstnumber Team

Last month, BT found themselves the latest internet provider to be embroiled in controversy following the ban on a potentially misleading TV advertisement. In one of the ongoing 'Adam and Jane' ad series, the telecoms company offers broadband speeds consistently faster than 8Mbps, a claim which was unjustified according to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

This decision proved ominous for British Telecom as well as other UK internet providers, whose claims of consistent broadband have been the subject of recent scrutiny by governing body Ofcom. However, it seems that any negative publicity this furore may have caused has been largely swept under the carpet, with BT revealing that they have signed up their 15 millionth broadband customer.

In their Communications Market report published by Ofcom in August, the independent regulator of UK communications industries, announced that “Internet take-up on PCs is edging towards three-quarters of UK households”, with broadband take-up reaching 71%. The latter figure indicates a rise YOY of 3%. With the added knowledge that fixed broadband levels remained stagnant over the past year, it is believed that the general increase has been driven by the rise in mobile broadband (the use of a dongle or USB modem for internet connection).

The rise in broadband connection is mirrored by the consistent rise in BT Broadband users; on average BT have attracted some 5,000 new broadband connections per day since 2002. Although broadband services have been available from BT since 2000, it was only 2 years later that the company began to take the provision of this product seriously.

Olivia Garfield, BT strategy director at BT, commented on the overall achievements of her employer, insisting that:

“Broadband Britain has been a success story with widespread availability, low prices and high take up. People were sceptical when BT backed broadband in 2002 but the figures speak for themselves with the vast majority of new customers choosing broadband over BT’s network rather than alternative ones where prices are far higher. “

This milestone should not be entirely accredited to BT, whose retail arm accounts for little over 5 million broadband customers. The remaining numbers – almost two thirds – are derived from those whose contract is with a rival company such as TalkTalk or Sky, both of which use BT's infrastructure.

Although the rate of broadband take-up in the UK is higher than that of Germany, France, and the USA, it is believed that Britain is falling behind in terms of the provision of fast broadband speeds. Due to the UK's dependence on a largely copper-based network, customers are prone to lower speeds in general.

However with BT investing a further £2.5 billion in the roll-out of fibre broadband to two thirds of the UK, Olivia Garfield believes that this will “help the UK climb the league tables for speeds, one of the few areas in which we don't lead the world.”

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