BT Mobile: new 4G offering ahead of EE takeover
BT are back in the mobile market this week with BT Mobile; offering bundles of 4G data, minutes and texts.
So BT's officially now a big contender in the quad-play market providing mobile, broadband, TV and home phone services.
At the moment they just have sim-only contracts - although these come with £50 off mobiles at their store for those after a 4G compatible phone.
All BT Mobile contracts have 4G as standard and come with a discount of £5 a month for BT broadband customers; 2G and 3G phones will also work on the network.
And they've hinted there'll be more deals to come after wrapping up their buyout of EE - expected to happen by March 2016.
BT are keeping it simple, offering just three bundles to choose from, each with a £5 discount for existing customers.
|3G and 4G data||500MB data||2GB data||20GB data|
|Minutes||200 minutes||500 minutes||Unlimited minutes|
|Price if not a customer||£10 per month||£17 per month||£25 per month|
|Price for BT customers||£5 per month||£12 per month||£20 per month|
|More details||Visit BT||Visit BT||Visit BT|
All require signing up to a 12-month contract, but BT say customers can switch between bundles without signing up for a new contract - even if it's to a cheaper bundle.
Unlimited access to BT's five million wi-fi hotspots and watching BT Sport via the BT Sport app are included in all the bundles.
And as expected, BT are encouraging people to sign up for broadband if they haven't already, offering the £5 monthly discount to those who do.
Best 4G coverage
EE boast the greatest coverage of all UK networks, with 4G available to 80% of the population at the beginning of this year.
BT are now owning this claim too, operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), through the EE network. They say their new service is available in "more places than Vodafone, O2 and Three".
EE's sim only deals are in the table below and are similar to BT's; but BT's largest package with 20GB maximum data allowance is the same price - or cheaper for BT customers - as EE's biggest 4GB allowance.
|3G and 4G data||500MB data||2GB data||4GB data|
|Minutes||150 minutes||500 minutes||1000 minutes|
|Price||£10 per month||£15 per month||£25 per month|
|More details||Visit BT||Visit BT||Visit BT|
With the cheapest deals only available to BT customers, the question is whether these will be passed to EE customers when the takeover goes ahead.
Business as usual?
BT had already planned to offer services through an MVNO deal with EE so this latest move isn't unexpected.
But the timing of the BT Mobile launch is important; by the end of 2015, O2 and Vodafone are due to have extended their 4G coverage to 98% of the population.
So if BT had waited until the EE deal comes through in 2016, they'd likely lose out on their ability to claim "best coverage".
And while EE insist it's business as usual - many will be unsure about signing up to a phone company with an uncertain future.
BT Mobile then will give a sense of security for BT and EE customers and help guard against losing potential customers while they wait for the deal to come through next year.
They agreed last month to buy EE for cash and shares worth £12.5 billion; EE's current owners Deutsche Telekom and Orange will own 12% and 4% of BT respectively.
Gavin Patterson, BT's CEO, said at the time the deal would allow an acceleration of their mobile network plans.
They also hope combining an extensive 4G network with BT's superfast broadband will lead to more product innovation.
And BT are looking to add their chunk of the 4G spectrum to the mix. They've been sitting on their share of the 2600MHz frequency since Ofcom's spectrum auction in 2013.
But with BT's mobile offerings so far not too dissimilar to EE's, it remains to be seen whether customers will get any really convincing savings without having to sign up for BT broadband.
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