Report: BT faces delay to consumer mobile launch due to technical hitch

BT's planned launch of consumer mobile services could be delayed from the original target of April 2015 because of technical problems with the operator's network, according to a report by the UK's Telegraph newspaper.

The former UK incumbent plans to take on the market's four mobile network operators with new mobile services, and has already launched '4G' mobile plans for businesses that also come with unlimited access to BT's 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots at no extra cost.

Consumers are the next target market, but the Telegraph report, citing unnamed sources, claims that handover problems between the company's Wi-Fi network and the LTE-based mobile network--leased from mobile operator EE--are causing delays. The plan is to ensure that as much traffic as possible is carried over the Wi-Fi network to keep down the cost of leasing the LTE network, but BT is reported to be struggling with the technology that would make the handover of calls seamless.

BT did not comment directly on the report, but continued to insist that its plans remain on track.

"We have always been very clear that it will take the best part of two years to develop our consumer femtocell service and this remains the case," a BT spokesperson said in comments emailed to FierceWireless:Europe.

BT is adopting a strategy that some analysts are calling the "inside out" approach to mobile services in order to take on the larger mobile players, rather than launching a more traditional mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

Rupert Wood from Analysys Mason said this model makes greater use of indoor femtocells and Wi-Fi access points, playing on the idea that a large proportion of calls originate and terminate in the home. The EE network would then be used for services outside the home or Wi-Fi access point.

"The approach offers real savings over classic MVNO models, and as such we believe it could be successful, profitable, and disruptive to legacy mobile operators," Wood noted in a research report. Wood cited BT and TalkTalk as two operators that are already pursuing this strategy.

For more:
- see this Daily Telegraph article

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