BT could return to the retail mobile market for the first time in more than a decade, after its CEO said it was 'highly possible' branded Sims could be in smartphones next year.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Ian Livingston said the Sims would be part of a package of other BT services. It follows the company's acquisition of 4G ready spectrum earlier this year. BT has asked for tenders from mobile operators to form a 4G partnership, with O2 seen as the frontrunner, given its historic ties with the company.
Livingston said its 4G network would provide better coverage at a customer's home, through its Home Hub wi-fi router, with its public wi-fi hotspots upgraded to provide 4G access. He said: 'We can build effectively an internal, very cheap 4G network.'
The deal would put BT in competition with the major UK operators but it would also draw battle lines against Virgin Media, which sells mobile alongside its television, home phone and broadband products in a 'quad-play' strategy. BT announced last week it was making its sports package available for free for its broadband customers.
BT's last major consumer assault on the mobile market was in 2002, when it spun off its BT Cellnet division, which became O2.
Author: Graeme Neill