Tuesday, 28 April 2009

BT's fixed-mobile bundle: not as good as Orange or O2's but a couple of nice features

BT has unveiled a combination fixed and mobile broadband package:
  • Option 1: £15.65/month for 10GB home and 1GB mobile usage, plus 250 minutes of WiFi.
  • Option 2: £20.54/month, 20GB/1GB, 350 WiFi mins
  • Option 3: £24.46/month, unlimited/1GB, unlimited WiFi
NBs - All based on 18m contracts and 8Mbit/s fixed connections. All the options benefit from a discount for the first 3 months. USB modem costs £49.99 for Options 1 and 2 and £9.99 for Option 3. Additional data charged at £10/GB or £20 for 3GB.

Bundling mobile broadband with fixed/WiFi is an obvious winner. It gives a differentiator to those players with the appropriate networks (e.g. LLU player or hotspot provider) and it offloads network traffic from the groaning macro network. BT recently did a deal with Starbucks to expand their WiFi footprint.

The first thing that struck me of course is: it's not as good value as O2's equivalent offer. Their £19.58/month deal gives a Standard home broadband package (8MBit/s connection and unlimited traffic) and a 3GB/month mobile broadband connection (including unlimited WiFi). Orange also has a similar offer at £20/month.

But, BT's offer has a couple of things to recommend it. Mobile broadband connectivity is provided through BT's MVNO agreement with Vodafone, whose network deployment and upgrade is somewhat ahead of O2's. Also, BT's offer has much better out-of-bundle charging for the MBB. O2 charges £0.20 per MB, the equivalent of £200/GB, where BT charges only £10/GB (or £20 for 3GB). With average usage dropping below 1GB/user, most subscribers will find the 1GB bundle perfectly satisfactory but with the flexibility to use more if necessary.
Backed up by Vodafone's network.

This further focuses the attention of UK MNOs on the viability of mobile-only offers. With fixed/mobile bundle offers from BT, O2, Orange and Virgin already on the table, the MBB market leaders 3, T-Mobile and Vodafone will need to look seriously at multi-platform offers.

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