BT to bring call centres back to United Kingdom and launch 'converged network'

All customer calls will be answered in centres across the UK by 2020

Last week, the former state monopoly said it will slash 13,000 jobs, having reported flat or declining sales in all areas of its business - except in BT Consumer, with revenues up 3 per cent to £5bn and EE, where sales increased 4 per to £5.3bn.

More broadly, BT Consumer will also launch a business unit dedicated to establishing and maintaining partnerships with other innovative tech companies, with the aim of bringing their products and services to customers, and giving users the ability to control such services by, for example, making micro-payments through their mobile bills.

Marc Allera, chief executive of EE, was anointed CEO of the BT Consumer business past year, that brought together EE with the existing consumer division to create the £10bn integrated mobile, broadband and pay-TV outfit. "We're investing across BT, EE and Plusnet so that we can provide our customers with the widest choice of products and services, on the best networks, and with the best service in the United Kingdom".

Crucially the new 'Best Connected' plan is not a simplistic bundling of services, it's much more radical than that and will play to the strengths of both BT's fixed line ADSL, FTTC, FTTP network and EE's mobile (4G / 5G) infrastructure in order to provide "seamless connectivity" via a smart converged network by 2022 (supported by hybrid technology to dynamically combine both sides). The new converged, smart network - which will be the first of its kind in the United Kingdom - is scheduled to be completed in 2022 and will enable a new era of connectivity for the UK.

Customers will be able to buy new products and get help in any store as part of a new initiative to make BT and its sister brands "local" to consumers. BT's Ultrafast broadband comes with a unique guarantee of speeds of more than 100Mbps. It also hopes to put new, digitised customer service options in place. BT has also signed a reciprocal wholesale deal with Sky in recent months that will add more sport and premium drama channels to its offer.

Such a service could theoretically come into its own for users in those remaining parts of the United Kingdom that receive fixed broadband speeds of under 10Mbps, where adding a 4G connection - note that EE now claims to cover 90% of the United Kingdom population geographically - would bump up their speeds to over both the Ofcom and government definitions of superfast broadband.

EE Hybrid Broadband will use multipath transmission control protocol (TCP) technology to bond both BT's fixed broadband network and EE's 4G network in a single box.

BT Plus groups broadband and mobile into one plan - something that has been anticipated ever since BT bought EE.

The firm says the combination will result in improved reliability and higher speeds, with the mobile connection acting as a booster for the broadband connection.

And BT's Keep Connected Promise means that if ever there is a fault with a customer's home broadband, BT enables unlimited data on their BT mobile plans and will send a 4G Wi-Fi Mini Hub with unlimited data so the customer can stay connected while their broadband is repaired or installed. Today BT's consumer division, which includes ISP Plusnet and mobile giant EE, has explained more about how this will all work. That means expert help in call centres and stores across the United Kingdom, the most personalised and easy-to-use web, app and chat experiences, and even face-to-face support in their own homes. BT will also be returning to the high street across the United Kingdom throughout 2018, providing customers with BT products and advice in EE's expanding footprint of more than 620 retail stores.

Following positive feedback about its new UK-based call centres, BT will now close all overseas sales, accounts and technical support centres and move to a 100% United Kingdom and Ireland offering by 2020.

There's no official release for this new service but it could arrive in homes within the next few years.



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