BT will re-enter the UK mobile phone market next week with the launch of a range of mobile phone packages for business. The telecoms company exited the market back in 2001 when it sold off the Cellnet business, now O2.
On Thursday of next week, BT's business division will release a range of packages for small- and medium-sized businesses; the telecommunication company currently has around 900,000 SME customers. This will be followed by a consumer launch later in the year, said the company.
BT will offer mobile phone services using EE’s network, and with its existing WIFI spots around the UK, and last year’s purchase of a piece of 4G airwave spectrum, combining the three technologies will allow it to offer seamless mobile internet to its customers, said BT CEO Gavin Patterson. The company will explain how the convergence between the technologies will work at next week's launch.
BT will release its 4G price plans for business on the day. As mobile phone calls journey through fixed cables in the ground, this will give the telecoms giant an advantage over its rivals in the market.
BT will launch mobile packages for the consumer market before the end of the year. It is expected to concentrate on selling to existing BT customers e.g. BT internet customers getting a mobile phone as part of an upgraded package.
Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at CCS Insight, said it is a logical but long overdue move for BT. He told Mobile, 'BT is very well placed given its existing assets such as fibre and extensive WIFI network.' All of its rivals will be watching the much anticipated launch very closely, he said, along with any clues to what the consumer launch might be like, but this is unlikely.
He continued, 'Competition in the enterprise mobility is intensifying and EE's recent successes with 4G underline the importance of this move.'
The company has made some big long-term bets, he said, and, as a result, has made itself relevant again. 'There is a good vibe at BT, lots of excitement and now is the time to deliver. Mobile will be a key element of its quad-play offering.'
A BT spokesperson told Mobile: 'We said at full-year results that we’d be launching business mobile services in the coming weeks, and we look forward to revealing more about our plans on the 17th.'