BT to return to mobile sector with 4G network

BT is looking to return to the UK mobile carrier business more than a decade after it relinquished ownership of O2 in 2002. Its acquisition of 4G spectrum in the recent UK bandwidth auction could result in the communications giant offering a BT-branded 4G service.

Speaking to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Ian Livingston, BT chief executive, said it was "highly possible" that the firm would market its own branded 4G SIM cards in 2014. They could be bundled with BT's television, landline and broadband services.

Livingston said the company would be looking to undercut rivals as it already has a strong infrastructure that can be converted to carry 4G signals. Its own Home Hub Wi-Fi router could be upgraded to give internet access to 4G handsets when indoors, effectively putting less strain on the 2600MHz spectrum it bought. "We can build effectively an internal, very cheap 4G network," he revealed.

BT is looking to go into partnership with another operator to further its 4G plans, inviting networks to tender their interest. It is believed that O2 has the upper hand in negotiations, thanks to the history between the companies.

This would then provide more bandwidth in order to offer a more stable outdoors 4G service too. "When you’re out and about you just roam on to the [mobile operator] network," Livingston said.