BT has potential to disrupt with UK business mobile service

BT plans to construct miniature mobile networks in the buildings of its business users as it makes its return to the UK mobile market for the first time since selling O2 in 2001.

The UK incumbent said it will install networks in most customers' premises to deliver landline quality calls and services to mobile phones as part of its new One Phone service, a tariff for business users that it launched on Thursday. The tariff offers fixed line services hosted in the cloud and delivered to a mobile phone, meaning all phone calls are routed to the wireless device and employees can access their phone books and directories from the mobile phone.

Services are accessed via a BT SIM that automatically switches between the in-building mobile network and BT's public network, which is supplied through a wholesale network agreement with UK operator EE that includes access to the latter's UK LTE network. One Phone subscribers also gain access to BT's UK network of 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots.

"Missed calls mean missed business," noted Graham Sutherland, CEO of BT Business, adding: "With an increasingly mobile and demanding workforce, businesses need communications technology that is as flexible as they are."

One Phone users receive inclusive internal calls, and a choice of shared bundles or unlimited voice minutes and texts. BT said it will also provide detailed billing data to help customers control costs, and noted that upfront costs are limited because the service is hosted.

Analysts told the Financial Times that BT's approach could prove as disruptive to the UK mobile market as the company has been in the TV sector, where it is supplying sports programming for free as part of its fixed-line consumer broadband service. Espirito Bank noted BT could increase its overall revenues by up to 2 per cent if it can convert the majority of its current 10 million residential fixed-line customers to its nascent mobile services, the FT reported.

In May, BT revealed plans to return to the UK mobile network for the first time since it sold O2 in 2001. The company said it would lead with business services, and that it plans to launch a consumer LTE service by April 2015.

For more:
- see BTs One Phone announcement
- see this Financial Times article (sub req)

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