Following rumors British Telecom would launch its own mobile service in the UK, BT Mobile is now official. The fixed-line, TV, and broadband supplier hasn’t operated a mobile network for sometime, but recently signed a deal to purchase the EE network for around $19 billion. This puts it in a strong position to dominate the market, and despite the fact that the deal is not expected to be finalized until early 2016, BT has pushed its mobile plan out much sooner.
Updated on 03-26-2015 by Andy Boxall: Added in confirmation of BT Mobile tariffs.
Potential subscribers that use BT Broadband get a substantial discount on BT Mobile SIM-only plans, which start at £5 per month for 500MB of 4G data, 200 minutes, and unlimited SMS. A 2GB 4G data option is £12, and a 20GB 4G option is £20, based on a 12-month contract. Each comes with free access to BT Sport, and BT’s Wi-Fi network.
These are SIM-only prices, but BT also sells a selection of suitable unlocked phones, including the Huawei Ascend Y550 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. Anyone who isn’t a BT customer can still sign-up, but the plans and phones cost more.
Rumors of BT Mobile’s launch appeared in The Telegraph and other publications, covering the possible BT Mobile name, and the pricing structure, which was initially expected to be highly competitive. However, inside sources told the newspaper the prices wouln’t be quite as cheap as originally expected, which undoubtably pleased competing networks such as Vodafone and O2.
BT is targeting its 7.6 million broadband subscribers, and is the largest ISP in the UK by market share, according to figures from regulator Ofcom. However, BT may ease back on the marketing to avoid starting a price war.
The decision not to offer package deals with a SIM and a phone is inline with what many of the Mobile Virtual Network Operators in the country offer. Even though it will almost own EE, the BT Mobile network will essentially be a MVNO. BT may be an MVNO for now, but it’s all set to become a major player in the UK mobile industry over the next year. In America, T-Mobile has shaken things up with its own aggressive marketing and keen offers, and BT could be positioned to do the same in the UK.