9/16/2009 12:03:00 PM
BT poised to offer converged services
BT could soon make a renewed bid for the mobile market with converged offers, after Ofcom rules were relaxed this week.
Ofcom announced it would relax some regulations around bundling, which will allow BT wholesale to offer discounted bundles of services for the first time.
The regulator made its decision after finding ‘healthy competition’ in fixed-line services from Virgin Media, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse’s TalkTalk.
BT will now be able to challenge Virgin Media by selling bundled services including mobile broadband and possibly mobile phones, alongside fixed-line broadband and TV to consumers.
Currently, BT Global Services and BT Business offer mobile phone services to corporate and SME customers.
The BT Broadband dongle, launched in spring 2009, could also be offered as part of a bundle.
However, a question mark hangs over the BT Mobile MVNO that runs on the Vodafone network, which has been closed to new customers since September 2008.
Sources said there was a possibility that BT would either re-open its mobile MVNO, or make an acquisition to catch up with rivals in the mobile market.
One analyst source said: ‘BT probably will, in the future, need to go for a full MNO arm. An MVNO deal is not good enough as it will have to pay for all the traffic. So with all these on-net products in the UK, it will be necessary for BT to have its own network.’
BT Retail CEO Gavin Patterson (pictured) said: ‘It’s good news for consumers and businesses as this will allow BT to offer more targeted discounts on products and services and more attractive bundles at better prices, something we have been unable to offer widely to date.’
Ofcom research found that bundled services, such as voice, broadband and TV, are becoming increasingly popular with consumers.
In 2008, 46% of UK consumers bought a bundle of two or more services – nearly double the 29% figure from the same period in 2005.