BT’s return to the mobile phone market has been hit by a new delay after it emerged that technical problems could mean it won’t be launching until at least the next financial year.
The plan by BT to use Wi-Fi networks to handle voice calls and data traffic instead of 4G has hit the buffers with suggestions that the technology currently isn’t at a level high enough to handle the amount of traffic required.
The “handover” between the Wi-Fi and 4G mobile network spectrum rented from EE is in trouble and if it has to use more capacity from EE than it needs to, this will cause prices to rise and threaten its plan to undercut competitors.
“The handover is absolutely essential for BT to do what it wants to do with mobile. It’s possible the launch will slip into the second quarter of next year now,” a source told the Telegraph.
BT is planning to use its vast UK-wide network of some 5.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots to handle its voice call traffic and thus offer a service to customers at a rate that is a lot lower than competitors.
BT, itself, is insistent that its plans to implement the network are still “on track” with a spokesperson confirming that was the case and that would mean it must meet a self imposed deadline of the second quarter of 2015.
Using more of EE’s network would be one way to launch on time though this is prohibitive due to the costs involved and it could come down to whether it wants to launch on time or reduce the cost and launch later on.
Its grand plan is to eventually turn its network of Home Hub routers into mini 4G mobile masts that use the spectrum it bought for £186 million and that will eventually mean not needing EE’s help to run the network.
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