Tied up in a bundle
Others reckon prices might come down as a result of the buyout, due to the inevitable bundle deals off the back of quad-play. But even this could have a sting. It would be very difficult to 'unbundle' a quad package – and no easier to unbundle a sports-free phone, mobile and broadband deal. And any savings you might have made by bundling would, of course, be invalidated by the removal of one or more of the services. So you might end up 'putting up' with wooden spoon-style service because you can't unbundle the bits you want to keep.
And, of course, what about those EE customers who left BT due to customer dissatisfaction, or ex-EE subscribers who retain BT but may find themselves under pressure to effectively return to EE by bundled price deals?
I recently switched from BT to Sky, after a dispute over a huge bill caused by my home alarm dialling out, unbeknownst to me. BT only switched off my phone, as part of its protection service, after it had racked up well over £600 of 'calls' in a very short time. Apparently had I been a less reliable paying customer, the company would have switched off our service when it hit £100 spend, saving us £560. So we were effectively penalised for being good – and long-term – customers!
As an EE mobile customer, it doesn't fill me with tidings of great joy that I may be a BT customer again – although I'll reserve judgment until after the deal goes ahead, if indeed it does.
But back to how this proposed deal might affect UK businesses. The acquisition would have a greater impact on BT's consumer activities, because EE's 25 million customers are mainly consumers. So there's nothing obvious in this deal to suggest an immediate spike in business relationships; EE is not Vodafone, which still bosses the business market.
However, the deal certainly allows for huge opportunities in the business telecoms sector, and ultimately the ability for BT to deliver new business offers. It should be able to leverage its new acquisition's skillsets to develop what Forrester Research calls mobile moments – a 'point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context'.
In other words, whilst consumers will, initially at least, be BT's focus, should the deal complete, such a focus would be unavoidable due to the additional millions of consumers joining BT after the takeover. Going forward, however, businesses can expect BT to engage with them in a way that EE previously never did, and this – we can be hopeful – may lead to more competitive pricing and new, innovative sales options.
Only time will tell and it ultimately depends on whether or not BT can add to its girth, like Santa chomping through the mince pies and sherry on Christmas Eve.