BT unifies consumer division but retains separate EE brand with rival products
16 May 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
BT is merging its three consumer operations in fixed, mobile and internet service into a single division.
Marc Allera, the former CEO of EE, the mobile unit bought by BT in early 2016, will continue to run BT’s consumer operation, with the inclusion of both EE and Plusnet, its internet service provider.
Allera said: “We’re investing across BT, EE and Plusnet so that we can provide our customers with the widest choice of products and services, on the best networks, and with the best service in the UK.”
The integrated division will bring together “the best of mobile, broadband and Wifi networks through first-of-their-kind converged products”, said BT, which said it “is committing to provide the best service and the widest choice to customers across the UK”.
The company said it is aiming at a “new converged, smart network” that is due for completion by 2022.
Allera said: “We’re beginning our journey to create one converged, smart network built on our world-leading fixed and mobile networks – going beyond 4G, 5G, Wifi and ultrafast broadband to seamlessly connect our customers wherever they are to the things that matter most to them.”
Paolo Pescatore, VP for multiplay and media at analyst company CCS Insight, said: “This update provides a much needed boost to the BT group, given the widespread negative publicity it has endured in recent months. More importantly the new structure and strategy provides better clarity on the future direction of the consumer segment which has been in limbo for some time.”
But the announcement implies that BT and EE will continue to compete under their own brands in the consumer market.
BT said it will now offer a minimum speed of 100Mbps for its ultrafast home broadband service, with speeds up to 314Mbps. It will offer unified fixed, mobile and Wifi bills under the BT Plus brand. EE will continue to offer its own flavour of home broadband, but will now use a mixture of 4G and fixed broadband connections.
It’s not clear how BT and EE will distinguish their consumer products in the market. BT will also set up new shops on the UK’s high streets – even though EE already has its own stores.
Pescatore commented: “The consumer unit will continue with a multi-brand approach, heavily focussed on convergence by exploiting BT group’s vast network assets, to deliver new convergent products while focusing on customer retention.”
He said of Allera that the “drive for simplicity and focus on the customer will help increase loyalty among the more than 30 million users currently served by the combined brands in the UK. This is consistent with the approach he took when leading EE and he is now extending this into the larger consumer unit.”