© Reuters. British Telecom (BT)’s headquarters is seen in central London

LONDON (Reuters) – BT, Britain’s biggest broadband provider, said it had met earnings expectations for the first half, underpinning its target to roll out gold standard fibre broadband to 4 million premises by March 2021.

The company reported revenue of 11.47 billion pounds, down 1% on Thursday, reflecting the impact of regulation and declines in legacy products, and adjusted core earnings of 3.92 billion pounds, down 3%.

Chief Executive Philip Jansen is recasting BT as the national champion that Britain needs to upgrade communications for consumers and businesses.

He said BT’s networks arm Openreach was significantly accelerating the pace of building its fibre network, and was now passing a home or business every 26 seconds.

BT has said it is ready to play its part in achieving the government’s aim of rolling out full fibre broadband across the country, as long as the regulator ensures it is able to make a return on the investment.

“Openreach announced a further 29 locations in its build plan to reach 4 million premises by March 2021, and we continue to make positive progress with Government and Ofcom on the enablers to stimulate further investment in full fibre,” Jansen said.

Analysts have said BT could reduce its dividend to help further ramp up investment in its networks.

It did not make any pre-emptive changes to the policy on Thursday, however, declaring an interim dividend of 4.62 pence per share, and said it expected to hold the full-year dividend unchanged at 15.40 pence per share this year.

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($1 = 0.7735 pounds)

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