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BT super-cheap mobile network delayed due to tech issues

James Temperton
6 Oct 2014
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BT will use EE 4G and 5.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots to create a cut-price mobile networks to undercut its rivals

BT's plans to launch a consumer mobile network could be delayed until the next financial year as technical problems foil its hopes of undercutting rival operators. BT had hoped to cut costs by carrying as much voice traffic as possible over Wi-Fi networks.

According to The Telegraph the company wants to use its 5.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots to create its mobile phone network. BT has already agreed a deal with EE to use some of its 4G spectrum but limiting costs by using Wi-Fi is key to BT's cost-cutting plan.

BT has been having problems with the technology used to switch between Wi-Fi and mobile networks, with calls interrupted when the signal changes. A source speaking to The Telegraph said the so-called handover technology was "absolutely essential" to BT's plan. The insider added that the launch could now slip into the second quarter of 2015.

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The telecoms giant had hoped to launch its mobile network this financial year and may chose to launch entirely on EE's network to meet its self-imposed deadline. Despite rumours to the contrary BT insists its plans are still on track. BT's return to consumer mobile comes a decade after it sold Cellnet to create O2.

While BT's hopes of using a mix of Wi-Fi and EE's 4G network are ambitious, it had previously said that customers would be able to "roam seamlessly" between the two.

As well as using Wi-Fi BT also hopes to leverage its home broadband customers to increase its mobile network capacity. The company paid £186 million for a small chunk of 4G spectrum last year and will eventually use its Home Hub routers as small 4G mobile masts to improve network coverage.

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