BT: Business Mobile Is More Ripe For Innovation Than Consumer

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT claims EE and its vision of a converged fixed-mobile network will help serve businesses demanding more enterprise applications

BT says its proposed takeover of EE and plans for converged fixed-mobile infrastructure can help deliver new applications for a business mobile market that is riper for innovation than a more stagnant consumer sector.

Speaking at a Westminster eForum, BT’s group managing director for mobile, Steve Haines, said the recent partnership between Apple and IBM, the cross-platform availability of Office 365 and the launch of Windows 10 were recent examples of enterprise innovation that must be served by next generation networks.

Converged vision

bt homephone“I think the opportunity is in business because mobile solutions are relatively underdeveloped,” he said. “I think this is a real opportunity for innovation and networks.

“Networks have to be able to develop into the cloud of clouds … if businesses are going to trust clouds to take over their data, they have to be able to transfer this over a secure network.”

The company, which sold O2 in 2005, has a renewed focus on mobile, launching new business and consumer services and agreeing a £12.5 billion takeover with EE, which also powers its existing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).

It says there will eventually be no distinction between fixed and mobile networks, with customers demanding connectivity wherever they are.

Even if the EE deal is granted regulatory approval, BT plans to go ahead with the creation of a hybrid ‘inside-out’ model, comprising its MVNO and BT Wi-Fi network. This, it claims, will reduce demands on cellular networks and improve indoor coverage in offices which can be difficult to penetrate.

No break up

“The future of mobile networks is the future of UK communications,” continued Haines. “Mobile networks shouldn’t be looked at in isolation of fixed networks or vice versa.

“I believe the future of network is the power of fixed network and the flexibility of mobile.”

BT’s proposed takeover of EE would unite the UK’s biggest LTE and fibre networks and is currently subject to an investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Ofcom is also undertaking its once-in-a-decade review of the UK communications market, a process which has seen BT’s rivals call for Openreach to be spun off.

Haines rejected such claims, arguing that a combined BT and EE would be better placed to invest in the next generation network technologies, like 5G, that can ensure the UK remains a leader in the global market.

“We need to keep an environment that promotes investments in fixed and mobile … I do believe the combination of BT and EE is a force for good.”

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