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Are BT Looking To Return To Consumer Mobile?

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Rumours about it are spreading like wildfire after the BT Group signed a contract with a new mobile operator on Tuesday, March 25th. The contract was inked with popular mobile operator EE, effectively severing ties with Vodafone Group, its former virtual mobile operator in the United Kingdom.

BT has been out of the mobile industry for over a decade and according to reports, BT came out looking for a mobile partnership some time last year. The company currently services big time corporations, Small and Medium enterprises as well as a niche in the private sector. Earlier in October 2013, BT and EE had announced that they will soon be signing an exclusive partnership.

The new partnership states that any company who signs up under BT’s mobile services will already be transferred to the EE network. They will no longer be set up with Vodafone. The British giant declined to disclose the value and term of the new arrangement with EE.

EE has the largest 4G coverage amongst all UK-based operators. It has a reach of more than 75 percent of the British market which expands across 175 towns and cities. In the year 2010, EE merged its Orange brand with another giant Deutsche Telekom. It was originally France Telecom.

Analysts believe that the partnership with EE will allow BT to penetrate the consumer mobile market once again. It left the industry in the year 2001 after Cellnet became rebranded as O2. BT is rumoured to offer a bundled package which includes mobile services. The other products will include broadband internet and TV. The company could be positioning itself to become a direct competitor of multimedia giant, Virgin Media.

For its part, BTs has neither confirmed nor denied the reports. A move back to consumer mobile services would be a huge step, especially since its been away for almost 10 years. The British company merely said that plans with EE will be disclosed later in the year. Meanwhile, BTs said it will continue to build stronger wi-fi presence in hotspots and other public places. There seems to be a master plan under the sleeves of BT.

The company also acquired sports rights worth billions of pounds. This is clearly an effort to boost its sports TV channels. Could this be a move meant to take down BSky? Experts are saying that this could be a shrewd move to offer free sports TV to its competitors subscribers? This would result to acquiring a captive market in the telephone or mobile industry.

Speculation says that a large wi-fi share would keep BT’s cost under control. Vodafone, for its part, declined to comment on the new partnership. Two years ago, the company had bought telco expert Cable & Wireless Worldwide PLC for an estimated $1.7 billion to boost its presence in the corporate sector. It’s not known yet how the severed partnership with BT’s will affect its standing.

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