BT has announced that it has given up on Vodafone and will replace its mobile virtual network provider with EE. Following the announcement, shares of Vodafone crept up slightly while those of BT fell down by more than one per cent.
Business customers who buy mobile services from BT will now effectively be transferred from the Vodafone network to EE. BT claims that most of its business customers will not notice the difference.
The move has been on the drawing board for a while now. BT first announced its intention to partner with EE back in October, but only confirmed the deal today.
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4G, the deal clincher
BT mobile customers will have access to EE's 2G, 3G and 4G services with the last one being the real reason for the change.
EE has the UK's largest 4G network by getting a year's head start on its rivals. It delivers 4G services over its existing spectrum, while the others had to wait for the conclusion of Ofcom's 4G auction.
It is not clear what BT wants to do with the slice of spectrum it won in the 4G auction. PC Pro has been told that the company will announce its own 4G plans later in the year and these will be "complementary" to EE's 4G services.
The pair worked together in Cornwall where 4G was used to provide superfast broadband to remote areas that were not covered by BT's fibre rollout.
It is likely that BT will use its own 4G spectrum to provide such "filler" services. Some pundits are suggesting that BT is planning to embark on a renewed push into the consumer mobile market, more than 12 years after BT Cellnetwas spun off.