BT makes a plethora of announcements, but nothing earth-shattering

via Flickr © ell brown (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © ell brown (CC BY 2.0)

  • It essentially laid out its direction of travel in all areas
  • Broadband gets extra attention, especially for rural coverage
  • With copper going, 4G and 5G will be pressed into action for fixed wireless broadband
  • Customer support tidied up; training invested in; BT gets more local

BT came out with all guns blazing today to ‘launch’ - or at least announce - what it called an unprecedented range of new products and services. A lot of the announcements appear to be partial retreads of policies that have been indicated before (perhaps originally with less boldness - such the retirement of the copper network); some are just fluffy meanderings (which I’ll leave out) and some are new but relatively minor in the greater scheme of things. It’s enough to leave you wondering whether this is a major announcement or a vast collection of individually underwhelming minor announcements massed together for impact.

The only thing to do is lay them out and say “over to you folks” - is this a masterstroke, smoke & mirrors or something in between? You decide. 

Take the claim that BT is upgrading 700,000 homes and businesses to Superfast Broadband by 2020 at no extra cost to customers. Well, just for perspective, there are over 27 million households in the UK, so that promise on its own, while good, is not a game changer. 

BT says it will stop selling standard broadband connections on the legacy copper network to 90% of the UK population (which is one of the promises) to concentrate on delivering superfast, including 4G and 5G  to 90% of the UK population where its fibre is available. It says it will use all available technologies to connect the rest of the UK currently unable to get superfast. Analogue phone lines will be history by 2025.

Here are the full list of announcements: 

  • It’s launching a converged plan for its new home phone, Halo, that allows customers to make and receive mobile calls from their home phone using Bluetooth technology. Now Halo customers can get unlimited data and calls on mobile and at home, it claims. 

  • There is also a ‘Halo for Business’ with BT offering SMEs Superfast Broadband with a ‘future-ready’ digital phone line (which would appear to be copper) which provides small businesses with a range of services that aren’t available on legacy phone lines. It includes an always connected guarantee and customers can add 4G and 5G mobile connections. Businesses can make and receive calls on their landline number straight from their smartphones.

  • Next generation cloud connections for enterprise. BT is introducing the next generation of connectivity for larger businesses, delivered through flexible SD WANs. 

Customer service

  • BT is launching a new team of 900 Home Tech Experts who will help customers in their homes. Customers will be able to book appointments to get help installing the latest tech or fixing problems.
  • Same again - there is to be a small business version. This team will carry out personalised set-up of products and services that are most critical to the running of each customer’s business.
  • Customer support outsourcing is being insourced again  with 100% of calls to be answered in the UK and Ireland from January 2020, a year ahead of original schedule.
  • BT says it will Become one of the first mobile providers in the UK to launch 5G mobile plans, ahead of other major networks. IT claims customers in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast can enjoy speeds typically 100-150 Mbps faster than 4G connections even in the busiest areas.
  • Launching 4G and 5G broadband solutions for small businesses in October. This is for  business customers who cannot access Superfast Broadband today or who want an instant connection for temporary offices or locations.

There’s more, but the claims get slightly more nebulous. Some of these are:

  • BT says it’s launching Regional Call Routing - BT will answer customer calls in the customer service centre closest to them wherever possible – providing the best service experience with local knowledge.
  • The BT brand is going back to the high street to provide personal help within 20 minutes’ drive of 95% of the UK population - it will be providing consumer and small business customers local access to experts who can help with everything from getting online for the first time to the latest in smart home technology. 
  •  BT Group is launching ‘Skills for Tomorrow’, a new digital skills programme to help 10m people, families and businesses across the UK get the skills they need by 2025.

This an opening salvo. BT says it will release more details on some of the announcements in due course. 

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.