BT aiming to enhance competition in mobile sector with own 4G network launch

12 May 2014

British fixed line incumbent BT has reportedly promised to ‘shake up’ the country’s mobile market with the launch of its own 4G mobile network later this year. According to the Daily Telegraph, which cites comments made by the telco’s CEO Gavin Patterson, BT aims to disrupt both the business and consumer segments, with the executive noting: ‘Customers can see that we’ll be able to shake up the market, be that the business market or the consumer market … They’ve seen what we’ve done in sport and see the potential for us to do something similar in the mobile market.’

It is understood that BT aims to re-launch its mobile network for businesses within three months, while products aimed at consumers are expected to be introduced by April 2015. A range of technologies will be utilised for the operator’s return to the mobile sector; having finalised a deal in March 2014 which will allow it to utilise the network belonging to EE, BT will augment its 5.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots already active around the country, with it planning to upgrade customers’ Home Hub equipment to broadcast 4G as well as Wi-Fi signals. In addition, the operator will construct a new 4G network using spectrum it acquired in February 2013; as previously reported by CommsUpdate, BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures was named as one of the winning bidders in the government’s 4G spectrum auction, agreeing to pay GBP186.476 million (USD294 million) for 2×15MHz of 2.6GHz and 1×20MHz of 2.6GHz (unpaired) spectrum. Such a setup, it is claimed, will allow BT to undercut rival providers by carrying voice calls and smartphone internet traffic cheaply over its own fixed line broadband network. ‘We’re combining those [technologies] all together to be able to create broadband services for customers that you can bundle with fixed so they can access the internet when they’re out and about with a very high quality service that really performs extremely well on things like video,’ Mr Patterson noted.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach)