BT offers fixed-mobile convergence to small firms

Analysts are pleased to finally see BT taking the initiative and offering a service that combines fixed-line and mobile phone calls in a single bill

BT stirred the UK telecoms market last week with the launch of a package that combines fixed-line and mobile phone calls in a single bill.

Aimed at businesses that spend at least £5,000 a year on telephony services, BT Business Plan with Mobile appears to offer significant cost savings.

It comes just weeks after Orange launched its own converged product, and analysts believe that BT's move could encourage other operators to follow suit.

"This will no doubt increase the pressure on other UK mobile operators, and perhaps UK fixed suppliers too, to prepare their own fixed-mobile bundles for business customers," Ovum analyst Jeremy Green predicted.

"This is also the first real sign of some proper initiative from BT on using its position as both a mobile virtual network operator and the leading fixed operator to create some value-added propositions for business customers," Green added.

BT Business Plan with Mobile gives businesses a 5 percent discount on their landline and mobile calls.

It also includes a range of price-caps on landline calls up to an hour in length — calls to UK mobile phones will be capped at 25p, UK landline-to-landline calls will be capped at 10p, most landline calls to the US will also cost 10p, while landline calls to the European Union and Pacific Rim countries will cost 20p.

BT also includes a software tool that will analyse a firm's telecoms spending, and could help businesses control costs.

Green suggested that taking up BT's offer could be a "no-brainer" for firms who were simply looking to save money, but did caution that they might be able to secure an even better deal by shopping around.

"That said, it looks to us like they will have to work that much harder to better the BT package than was the case for Orange's initial offering," said Green.

Orange announced in February that it would offer fixed-line services to businesses, and claimed it would be much cheaper than BT. BT, though, hit back at this charge.

"BT Business Plan with Mobile goes significantly further than the offering from competitors like Orange. Their price comparisons are made against our standard rate, a rate which most of our BT Business Plan customers do not pay," claimed Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business.

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