BT Group saw underlying revenues for the third quarter increase a modest 3 per cent to £4.51 billion and pre-tax profits rise 7 per cent to £675 million - before charges to cover the company's large pension deficit and other items.

Pre-tax profits actually posted after specific items were £628 million, down 4 per cent. Net debt, as of 31 December, stood at £8.14 billion - up 5 per cent. Despite the modest performance the shareholders were looked after with earnings per share up 8 per cent to 6.6p.

Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, preferred to focus on the group's national fibre broadband roll-out, which includes this week BT signing major government funded contracts with local authorities.

Livingston said, "More than 13 million premises can access our fibre broadband and we are passing around 100,000 additional premises every week.

"Take-up is growing strongly with around 1.25 million homes and businesses now enjoying the benefits of faster speeds. This gives us an excellent platform for our push into TV and sport later this year."

He added, "BT Global Services [the outsourcing arm] has also done well, securing £1.9 billion of new orders, up 17 per cent."