BT has unveiled a new phone offering for businesses that aims to remove the need for a fixed phone network by providing dedicated mobile coverage into office sites. This will allow staff to use a mobile phone as their single device for all calls.
The BT One Phone offering was unveiled on Thursday morning at the BT Tower, with the firm explaining the product was designed to ensure users of the system could fully embrace flexible working, without the risk of calls dropping out.
BT Business CEO Graham Sutherland said by building mobile coverage across office sites – using picocells that provide mobile signal – BT could remove the concerns firms have that mobile networks are too unstable to handle business calls.
“People need call quality, and many are not happy with the quality or coverage of mobile, especially in-building, and that’s not great for our industry,” he said.
“With One Phone we provide dedicated in-building coverage that will offer call quality at the standard of fixed quality that offers resilience and better in-building coverage, and flexibility.”
Users of the BT One Phone system will also switch across to BT’s national mobile network – hosted by EE as part of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) offering – so staff remain connected when travelling or working at home on their devices.
Customers also get access to BT’s five million strong network of WiFi hotspots. As part of this BT also confirmed it would be offering a standalone mobile offering on the EE network as part of the MVNO deal, saying this would come in the next few months.
The system also comes with a cloud-based portal to manage the system, which can be accessed by both administrators and staff from any location, to set presence information, access call log data and a company’s phone directory.
A BT One Phone apps is also available, to let staff set their presence information, and access this cloud-based data, such as the phone directory.
BT didn’t outline and specific pricing for services, but said it would aim for between 20-250 staff numbers, although has plans to expand this in both directions in the future.
Ovum principal analyst Pauline Trotter told V3 she thought the move was an interesting play by BT and that, despite facing a tough market, it could appeal to numerous mid-tier businesses.
“It is primarily targeting companies looking to replace on-premise PBXs [private branch exchanges]. I don’t think the product will be for everyone – it’s a bit too sophisticated for smaller SMEs with simple mobility needs that could just use mobile services,” she said.
“But there are a lot of options for companies looking to replace PBXs and add mobility to existing ones – from unified communication vendors and service providers and many more. It won’t be a particularly easy sell. But BT probably knows this market as well as anyone and it has the channels to serve it.”
She noted too that by focusing on voice calls for this launch it still has plenty left to unveil for video and data, as part of its MVNO deal with EE and its own 4G spectrum holdings.