British Telecom Gets VoIP Serious


British Telecom is getting serious about VoIP. Under competitive pressure from upstarts, they are taking battle into the enemy camp. The proof of this comes in their decision to bring price parity in their BT Communicator (PC-client) and BT Broadband Talk (that uses an ATA) services. The British incumbent will also offer its BT Broadband Talk service to customers who don’t buy broadband access from BT.

This is a good move for the UK incumbent which is facing increasing competitive pressure from upstarts. The biggest threat to BT’s voice business comes from Tesco, the supermarket chain that has started to market its bargain-basement VoIP services to its customers. Wanadoo, another BT rival has signed-up 100,000 customers in less than 12-months it has offered a VoIP package. Dixons, VoIP Cheap, and scores of others have jumped into the VoIP arena, in a situation reminiscent of the early days of DSL. Nevertheless, BT’s efforts will dampen (and perhaps further increase marketing costs) of voice service providers such as Vonage.


Matt Hoult

I share my enthusiasm for Telewest based on my experience. The customer service has been nothing but excellent and I have been party to trials of 8Mb, 12Mb and 18Mb services so I can be nothing but enthusiastic.

Don Thompson

I’m skeptical that VoIP will really take off for “Joe Public” in the UK given the current model. He’s gotta buy a local phone loop from BT at £12/mth, then put ADSL on top for another £15/mth minimum, then pay for VoIP service (£5.90/Sipgate, £7/BTBBTlk, £9.99/Vonage or adhoc minutes from Wanadoo et al). The indirect access providers can provide alternate PSTN calling in the same ball park without changing the subscribers number, adding the complexity of ATAs or Skype phones USBed up to PCs, or the QoS vagaries of running over ADSL’s 2-4Mbs backhaul shared with 50 other surfers, P2P’ers, WOW’ers, etc. I can’t share Matt’s enthusiasm for NTL/Telewest – NTL customer service is legendary for its ineptitude and in my locality they sunk so much money into the ground they nearly busted themselves, are barely recouping and now run a wafer thin service.

Matt Hoult

Interesting views here but I still don’t think there will be any competition that will be worth registering in the long term from BT. I am finding that more and more people in the UK are relying on the advice of more tech minded folk and this is leading them away from anything to do with the UK’s crumbling telephone network.

The real contenders for the right to distribute media services, internet services, and telephony services in the UK are Telewest (aka. Blueyonder). These people have a dedicated network infrastructure, designed recently for just this scenario and as the industry heads in their direction, so the sheep shall follow.

Just my ¢2.

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