Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

BT overhauls consumer business with bid to combine mobile and broadband

BT overhauls consumer business with bid to combine mobile and broadband

This confirmation backs-up details that emerged in an earnings presentation in May, where BT chief executive Gavin Patterson is reported to have said "We will look to have a commercial 5G product launched in the next 18 months".

The first example of its so-called converged offering will be hybrid broadband technology, which combines 4G mobile and fixed-line broadband to boost Wi-Fi signals in customers' houses and maintains connections if the fixed-line fails, Allera said.

EE is also showcasing a prototype for a new category of converged broadband - EE Hybrid Broadband technology. Families will be able to share data allowances and control children's browsing via central controls.

EE is also launching a new support app which, with permission, will allow customer service agents to use the camera on a customer's phone to view problems they're having with a product or service and provide situation-specific support.

BT Plus groups broadband and mobile into one plan - something that has been anticipated ever since BT bought EE.

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"BT runs the UK's most advanced mobile and broadband networks, but our customers demand better connections, and the best service no matter where they are", explained Marc Allera, CEO of BT's Consumer business.

To this end, BT will be repatriating all its customer contact centres to the United Kingdom by 2020, and will return the BT brand to the high street for the first time in years through concessions in EE stores. A new "emotional" advertising campaign will aim to restore the BT brand after years in which marketing focused entirely on price promotions while the company faced mounting criticism over broadband speeds and reliability.

Meanwhile EE will seek to be the first United Kingdom network to offer a superfast same-day smartphone delivery and expert set-up service, which will launch in London first, and they'll boost their customer support via augmented reality (AR) customer service tools, EE Remote Support and EE Virtual Support. The move to support Amazon Prime video positions BT TV as an aggregator of content services including Netflix and Now TV from next year.

Allera said the firm is building a "single core network" meant to support a wider range of converged products will be ready by 2020 across BT's fixed and mobile assets. This unit will introduce new products and services, from the best content, the latest smartphones and smart home technology, and will create new experiences for customers including the ability to add payments for products and a wide range of services to their mobile bill. However it would now be very hard for BT's rivals to match what they're aiming to do with seamless indoor and outdoor connectivity (limitations with MVNO arrangements and fixed line access etc.).

However, such a move raises a questionmark over the future of the EE brand. Meanwhile Plusnet will no doubt retain their position as a low cost niche. "We've already brought our teams together, now we're going to bring our networks together". "However, we reiterate our belief that at least one will be dropped in the medium to long term".

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