If the deal goes ahead – today’s announcement is only that the two sides will now engage in exclusive talks – BT will be ideally placed to benefit from the never ending demand for cheaper utilities by bundling mobile, TV, broadband and home phone on a single bill.
But what would the deal mean for everyone else?
A rebrand seems likely in the longer term. In its statement outlining the expected deal, BT spoke of making savings by reducing “marketing and sales costs” and the most likely way to achieve those savings would be to unite all services under a single brand.
And it’s likely that over time there’d be some merging of the BT and EE sales and billing systems.
Most immediately EE customers are likely to see a lot of marketing encouraging them to take extra products and services from BT, possibly at generous discounts.
And the chances of EE’s new TV service lasting until the end of 2015 seem pretty remote.
BT is already moving to drop its older BT Vision boxes in favour of the youView platform it co-owns. So it seems likely that the content poor EE service which is currently unable to stream internet channels such as BT Sport would be quickly dropped.
But on the plus side, EE customers could gain free or low cost access to BT’s sports channels just as its home broadband customers do.
Obviously BT will be seeking to move as many of its existing home phone and broadband customers from their existing mobile networks to EE.
This will almost certainly include offering deep discounts to those customers who take multiple services on a single bill.
Other mobile operators
EE is the UK’s largest provider of ‘white label’ (mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO for short) mobile services to other firms which then sells airtime and data packages to their own customers.
The biggest of these – see the full list below – is Virgin Mobile which struck the world’s first MVNO deal with T-Mobile in 1999.
Virgin Media, which owns Virgin Mobile, has long prided itself on not relying on BT’s network to sell its broadband and home phone packages but now looks set become its rival’s biggest mobile reseller.
Meanwhile O2, Three and Vodafone should expect some heavy competition from BT which could, as suggested above, chuck in its sports content for free to EE customers.
EE’s MVNO customers:
Airwave Smart Mobile
Auracall Travel Talk
Chromebook 3G SIM
HP Mobile Connect
Simple Call Mobile
Talk Home Mobile
The Phone Co-op
UK Globe Tel
If BT does decide to drop the EE brand one of its earliest calls would likely to be to BAFTA, whose annual film awards are sponsored by EE having previously been named after Orange.
Whilst it is almost certainly too late to do anything about this year’s awards it has to be a sure bet that the 2016 ceremony, assuming BT wishes to continue the relationship, will carry the parent company’s brand to the event’s global audience.