BT Branded 4G Service As Soon As Next Year Says CEO
The UK’s dominant landline network, British Telecom (BT) expects to be able to launch a 4G-branded mobile network as soon as next year.
The company’s CEO, Ian Livingston said that it is “highly possible” BT-branded SIM cards would be in customers’ smartphones this time next year.
The company recently paid US$290 million to buy a block of 4G radio spectrum and has been looking for a partner to deploy its own mobile network. The launch of the BT branded service would come 13 years after it sold off what is now the O2 mobile network.
At the time BT was forced to sell the company due to its heavy debts following the bursting of the telecoms bubble. Since then it has attempted a number of modest reseller agreements but never pushed hard to be a mobile service provider again.
Now BT is repositioning itself a major player in content services delivered over a landline, and is expected to tie the mobile service in with those platforms.
Although details are still scarce, reading between the lines suggests that the company may be looking at upgrading the domestic Wi-Fi routers to femtocells and building out coverage using domestic broadband capacity for backhaul services. Away from homes, users could roam onto a national mobile network, or use BT’s existing extensive network of Wi-Fi hotspots, which would also be upgraded into 4G base stations.
BT’s CEO said the technology would complement the deal it plans to do with a mobile operator for outdoor coverage. “When you’re out and about you just roam on to the [mobile operator] network,” he added.