BT's Wireless Re-Entry Starts With Small Cells
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Genband Perspectives -- BT is working its way back into wireless after a 12-year-plus absence, and its push to re-enter the market will come through low-cost LTE small cells.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), which offers fiber, TV, and managed services, is looking to build a low-cost, highly effective self-organizing network of small cells in homes and offices, according to Clive Selley, CEO of the operator's service and operations and group CIO. He said here Tuesday that the operator will capture the data traffic from its small cell deployment over its fiber broadband network, create a new LTE core using the newly licensed spectrum it bought last year, and broker an MVNO relationship for roaming outside these locations. (See Euronews: BT Signs 4G MVNO Deal and Euronews: BT's Back in Wireless.)
"This is our inside-out strategy," he said. "We believe it's novel, and we believe it will be very disruptive."
The UK is unique in that it has five national mobile operators to cover only 60 million people, which is why Selley said he knew BT had to take a different approach. Since 70% of data usage is in the home or office, where cellular connectivity is often poor, small cells made the most sense.
The company also stands to gain from the fact that its competitors' LTE networks are experiencing dramatically rising data usage. As the incumbent wireline telco, BT operates the UK's biggest core network. It has a high-bandwidth fiber broadband pipe to two-thirds of homes there -- that figure is on its way to 90% -- and it operates 5 million WiFi hotspots. This is capacity it can use for its own services and wholesale to its competitors for backhaul. (See Euronews: BT, AlcaLu Claim Fiber Speed Record.)
The BT man also sees potential for the company in enterprise voice. It has been working with Genband Inc. for the past few years to design and build what it calls a session distributed interworking network (SDIN), the core platform for BT's current and future IP-based voice and multimedia products such as HD voice and video calling. In time, this will replace its PSTN core, Selley said. BT plans to bring the network outside the UK with hubs around the world. (See BT Deploys Genband's Diameter Signaling Controller.)
"We expect traffic volumes to double and the size of SDIN network to double again," he said. "It's genuinely scalable. It scales readily as we grow our customers and services."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading