EE Set To Replace Vodafone As BT’s Mobile Partner

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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With BT’s MVNO agreement with Vodafone rumming out, EE will be the new BT mobile partner for business customers and BT employees

BT is about to sign a multi-year Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with EE, replacing an existing deal under which Vodafone provides the network over which BT offers mobile services to business customers and employees.

The telecom giant currently provides a range of mobile services, mostly to large corporates, the public sector and SMEs, through its existing MVNO deal with Vodafone. BT says it will carefully manage the transition from Vodafone to EE, ensuring a seamless handover.

BT tower

BT MVNO contract

BT has had a nine-year partnership with Vodafone but  BT opened a new tender for the MVNO partnership to provide services to its customers in April. It has been reported that Vodafone’s purchase of Cable & Wireless effectively nullified the egreement with BT.

It was initially assumed that O2 was the front runner for the contract, given that the operator (formerly known as BT Cellnet) had been spun off from BT in 2002, before being later acquired by Telefonica.

However, EE has a thriving list of MVNO partners, with its network used by more than 25 other firms, including Phones4u’s LIFE Mobile, Virgin Mobile and The People’s Operator.

No financial deals have been disclosed and the contract is subject to final confirmation.

Some have wondered if BT will go back into mobile direclty, now it has some mobile spectrum of its own, having been a surprise bidder in the Ofcom 4G auction of spectrum earlier this year. It won 2.6GHz bandwidth at a cost of £186.5 million, but its plans for this bandwidth are not fully known. The 2.6GHz band has limited range, but high capacity, making it ideal for densely populated urban areas, but less useful for a national network.

It is believed that BT’s 4G spectrum is earmarked for use in conjunction with its home broadband and Wi-Fi services to improve indoor coverage.

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