July 31, 2014 / 7:51 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Demand for broadband helps BT meet Q1 forecasts

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LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - Britain’s BT reported solid first-quarter results on Thursday after demand for fibre broadband and pay-TV helped the former state telecoms monopoly to meet forecasts.

BT, which has rebuilt itself in recent years around its superfast broadband and new sports TV service, reported revenue up 0.5 percent on an underlying basis to 4.4 billion pounds ($7.4 billion).

Core earnings were flat at 1.4 billion pounds, both in line with forecasts.

The performance was boosted by a record quarter from the BT Consumer division, where revenues from broadband and TV were up 26 percent due to the popularity of BT Sport which broadcasts Premier League soccer.

BT has transformed its business in recent years by cutting costs and launching new services, investing heavily on sports rights. That has enabled it to grow earnings and profits and to compete with pay-TV leader BSkyB.

It added 104,000 new broadband customers in the three months to the end of June, well ahead of the 50,000 added by Sky and it now has over 2.3 million customers on its fibre network.

It added 40,000 TV customers to give it a total of more than 1 million. In comparison, Sky has more than 10 million homes taking pay-TV and the two have gone head-to-head in the fight to sign up new households.

The operating performance enabled the group to reiterate its outlook and its shares were flat in early morning trading.

“We have made a good start to the year,” Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said. “Our fibre broadband network now covers more than twenty million premises. We are passing over 70,000 additional premises each week and demand is strong.” ($1 = 0.5911 British Pounds) (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Keith Weir)

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