Tuesday, June 14, 2005

BT's Bluephone Converges Fixed Line and Mobile Service

BT launched its Project Bluephone -- an intelligent mobile service that automatically switches from the mobile network to a broadband-based VoIP connection when the BT Fusion handset is in Bluetooth range of its BT Home Hub. Handoffs from the mobile network to the broadband line would happen seamlessly -- even in mid-call. BT is using use Vodafone's mobile network. The service is currently in testing with some 400 users and a wider rollout is expected in September.

BT said the service would provide customers savings by allowing calls to UK landline numbers to be charged at BT landline rates of 5.5p for up to an hour for all off-peak calls and 3p a minute at peak times. BT estimates that a 10-minute off-peak rate mobile call using this service from home will cost up to 95% less than the same call using a typical mobile competitor.

Ian Livingston, CEO for BT Retail, said: "We promised to launch the world's first seamless combined fixed and mobile service and now we're doing it. The service will transform the communications landscape and bring excellent value to customers.

BT Fusion's handset is a new quad-band, Motorola V560 model featuring integrated VGA digital camera, speaker phone, MP3 ring tones and graphics and 5 megabytes of memory. Motorola also plans to supply its RAZOR handsets.

The BT Home Hub uses Bluetooth to link the handset with a BT broadband connection. Up to six BT Fusion handsets can be linked to a BT Home Hub, allowing up to three simultaneous calls. The hub also serves as a Wi-Fi router for creating a home network.

Customers signing up to BT Fusion will get one free handset -- available at launch is the BT branded Motorola v560; secondary handsets at launch will also be free of charge. Customers will be eligible for a free BT hub (wireless base station) Users will need to choose a mobile phone "package" (exactly the same as when choosing a standard contract mobile phone).

Full pricing details will be announced in September.

  • In May 2004, BT announced plans for Project Bluephone, aiming "to eliminate the need to own more than one phone, as customers will be able to use a single device that can switch seamlessly between networks, giving more convenience, a better service with more guaranteed coverage and lower overall costs." Whenever customers are within reach of a BT wireless access point in their home or office, they will be able to connect at the best available speed and quality, through the BT network. If they move out of coverage range, they will seamlessly link to a partner's cellular GSM or 3G network for voice and data, giving them the best available connection wherever they are. Alcatel was named as prime contractor for Bluephone. BT also said it was working with Ericsson, Motorola, Norwood Systems, IVT, Inventel and MBT on the project.

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