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O2 adds fixed-line services for business bundles

The mobile operator has signed a deal with BT that will see it offer landline and broadband services alongside its mobile provision to business customers
Written by Andrew Donoghue, Contributor

O2 is introducing fixed-line and broadband alongside its existing mobile services, in packages aimed at business customers.

The Joined Up service, announced on Wednesday, will include mobile, fixed-line, data, broadband and consultancy services. The fixed-line services are possible thanks to a new five-year partnership deal with BT Wholesale, said O2.

Joined Up, which is set to launch in October, will allow companies to receive all those services from one provider, said O2.

"By moving into the fixed-line market we are now able to provide our business customers with a genuine end-to-end service which incorporates landline, broadband and hi-speed data as well as the mobile and consultancy services we already offer," said Ben Dowd, business sales director for O2.

Evan Kirchheimer, principal analyst at Ovum, said he was surprised to hear O2 had announced a deal with BT Wholesale as the two companies had had disagreements in the past, but he added that the deal made strategic sense.

"The days of standalone mobile operators are obviously numbered with deals like this," he said. "O2 and other operators are looking to generate a significant amount of their business from value-added services in the future."

Last week, Vodafone also announced that it had signed a deal with BT Wholesale that would enable it to offer fixed-line services as part of a fully hosted unified-communications package for businesses, Vodafone One Net. The launch followed on from the operator's launch of Vodafone One, a non-hosted unified-communications product for corporate customers, in June.

Dowd said the Joined Up service differed from rival packages due to O2's wider strategy and its focus on technologies such as fixed/mobile convergence.

"Our strategy is different to theirs. Our strategy is to become the communications integrator of choice by 2012. But there are other [differences], including the creation of a systems integration channel, the creation of a professional managed service team in the last nine months, [and] some of the fixed-line mobile substitutions which we have launched recently," he said.

O2 launched its Fixed Number Anywhere service in August. It gives users a landline-style number that channels calls straight through to their mobile phone.

Commenting on O2 and Vodafone's argument that customers want to get all their communications services from one provider, Kirchheimer said that was probably valid for small businesses, but not for corporations.

"You can look at that argument in two ways," he said. "Corporate customers with multinational offices might prefer to negotiate with local providers to drive the best deals, so it will be a long time before that dream becomes a reality. But small companies often lack a dedicated IT team to manage agreements with multiple operators. so going with one provider would probably be attractive to them."

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