Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: BT Mobile Sets Sights on Families

Magazine article Marketing

ANALYSIS: BT Mobile Sets Sights on Families

Article excerpt

BT is pinning its hopes on attracting a core market of families to build its mobile telephony customer base, writes Ravi Chandiramani.

It's barely two years since BT bowed out of the mobile phone arena with the demerger of BT Cellnet. Now the grandaddy of telecoms is coming out of retirement to re-enter this fiercely competitive market with a proposition aimed at its traditional turf of families, called BT Mobile Home Plan.

BT's mobile renaissance is on nothing like the scale of Cellnet, which was sold off and renamed O2. That business ended up with 12 million customers but was disposed of to help alleviate the company's then-crippling pounds 30bn debt.

This time the leaner, fitter BT will not operate the infrastructure but will use T-Mobile's network to act as a virtual operator. BT Retail chief executive Pierre Danon says he wants a million customers by 2005, a modest ambition when the big four have about 12 million to 13 million each. But with mobile handset use in the UK already close to saturation point at 80%, and supermarket giant Tesco gearing up for the pre-Christmas launch of Tesco Mobile, it's a worthy target.

BT Mobile Home Plan charges subscribers pounds 15 a month line rental then pounds 10 for up to five subsequent family members, and offers free calls from mobile to home lasting less than two minutes. Customers can buy fixed-price packages of call minutes that can be shared by the family and put on a single bill, allowing parents to see how much is being spent on calls and by whom. It is available on eight phones from the leading manufacturers, six of which come free to subscribers.

Phoning home

'We're appealing to younger families but will step it up later with more data-rich handsets targeting older families,' says BT general manager for consumer mobility Judy Dean. BT has calculated that a significant volume of short mobile calls are made between spouses or parents and their children.

The handsets are out this week through its call centre or, with a direct and online campaign in support. The phones won't be in the high streets until October, when BT unleashes a pounds 10m campaign through lead roster agency Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

But BT hasn't delivered the ground-breaking price plans some were expecting. …

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