BT inks MVNO deal with EE sparking consumer market return rumours


BT could be embarking on another foray into the consumer mobile market through its newly-forged partnership with mobile operator EE.

The telco has signed a multi-year agreement with EE that will see it provide mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services, including 4G, to the firm's customers and 90,000 employees.

BT previously had a similar deal in place with Vodafone, but this was canned in the wake of Vodafone's 2012 acquisition of BT rival Cable and Wireless.

As a result, an undisclosed number of staff are expected to move from Vodafone to EE as part of the BT deal.

The contract was awarded to EE following a tender process, which saw the firm fight off competition from rival operator O2, among others.

The news has fuelled speculation BT might be about to embark on a renewed push into the consumer mobile market, having spent several years providing similar services to the enterprise, public sector and SMBs.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph earlier this year, outgoing BT CEO Ian Livingstone said it was "highly possible" the firm would make a play for the consumer market in 2014.

The firm largely exited the consumer mobile market a decade ago after spinning off its Cellnet brand in 2002 and renaming it O2. It was later snapped up by Spanish operator Telefnica.

Furthermore, BT was one of a number of firms to secure spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band following Ofcom's 4G auction back in February, after bidding 186 million for three blocks.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.