BT has finally taken advantage of an Ofcom ruling that allows it to bundle telecoms services by launching its first triple-play offerings.
The triple-play packages of voice, fixed broadband and TV, announced on Thursday, are aimed at taking market share from BT's main rivals in the content market, Virgin Media and Sky. BT was originally prohibited by the telecoms regulator from offering these packages because of competition concerns, but Ofcom withdrew the restriction in September 2009, saying BT no longer had significant market power.
The first bundles will be offered at a discount and online until 23 March 2010.
"Offering a bundle of broadband and anytime calls for this knockdown price will launch us into the bundles market as an unrestricted competitor for the first time. There will be many more bundled offers to come and customers can only benefit," John Petter, managing director of BT's consumer division, said in a statement.
BT will offer three bundles of voice, fixed broadband and TV. They will be based on BT's ADSL2+ broadband, which offers up to 24Mbps downstream, plus one of three TV packages and flat rate calls to 01, 02, 03 and some 08 numbers at specified times. Mobile calls will not be included because of the size of the termination rates which BT must pay mobile operators to terminate calls, BT said.
Although BT's packages are to be sold initially at a discount, they will not all be cheaper than rival offers.
BT's basic bundle will cost £36.53 per month, which is £3.29 more expensive than the comparable bundle from Virgin Media. BT's middle offer is £7.82 per month cheaper than Virgin's equivalent, but its top end offer is £7.53 per month more expensive than its rival's offer.
BT will also tie users in for 18 months, while Virgin's contracts are for 12 months. Both operators use cheaper pricing for either the first two or three months: the above prices average out those savings over the lifetime of the contract. Sky's offerings are, as a whole, slightly more expensive than those of Virgin and BT, but are not directly comparable.
Around 12 million households and small businesses — nearly half the total — now use service providers other than BT, according to Ofcom.