British Telecom is getting ready to return to the mobile game, almost 13 years after it sold off what is now O2. At the time BT was forced to consolidate its assets, opting to sell the company due to its heavy debts following the bursting of the telecoms bubble. Since then, the UK’s dominant landline network attempted a number of modest reseller agreements but never pushed hard to be a mobile service provider again.
BT has recently paid $290 million to buy a block of 4G radio spectrum, with plans to use those waves to launch a 4G-branded mobile network as soon as next year.
In an interview to the Telegraph, the company’s CEO said that it was “highly possible” BT-branded SIM cards would be in customers’ smartphones this time next year.
The network launch details are scarce at the moment, but BT could opt to upgrade its Wi-Fi routers to femtocells, and build out coverage using domestic broadband capacity for backhaul services. When out and about, users could roam onto a national mobile network, or rely on BT’s existing extensive network of Wi-Fi hotspots to get their mobile fix.
More competition is always a good thing for end users. We’ll see how BT’s plans pan out…