Technical Hitches To Delay BT Mobile Consumer Launch

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.

Follow on: Google +

BT Mobile ambitions are being hampered by problems in handing over traffic from 4G to Wi-Fi, according to reports

BT’s plans to launch a consumer mobile service by April 2015 could be delayed by technical problems preventing the seamless transition of traffic between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The company has agreed a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) partnership with EE, but plans to carry as much voice and data traffic as possible over the nationwide network of BT Wi-Fi hotspots in order to reduce costs and pass on the savings to customers.

However BT is struggling to ensure connections are continuous during this handover, meaning that calls could be interrupted when users switch from a 4G network to wireless. It is possible that BT could launch as a pure MVNO, but this would increase the amount it has to pay to EE.

BT Mobile delay

BT Home Smartphone S 2BT is currently preparing for its first major mobile push in more than a decade, having spun off its mobile arm into O2 in 2002, which was then sold to Telefonica in 2005.

Businesses can already receive 4G over BT’s MVNO and the company has also announced the One Phone unified communications platform ahead of the expected consumer launch next year.

The company has offered mobile services to enterprises and employees for some time thanks to a previous agreement with Vodafone, but the former state monopoly finalised a new partnership with EE earlier this year and was a surprise bidder in the Ofcom 4G spectrum auction last February.

BT won £168 million worth of 2.6GHz bandwidth, which offers high capacity but has a shorter range than the 800MHz band, and plans to use these airwaves to reduce its costs even further by turning its HomeHub router into a mini 4G mast.

But it is reported that this plan too is suffering from technical mishaps as BT engineers have yet to find a method that ensures routers on the same street don’t interfere with each other.

“We have always been very clear that it will take the best part of two years to develop our Consumer femtocell service and this remains the case,” a BT spokesperson told TechWeekEurope.

What do you know about BT? Find out with our quiz!