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Business Management

A new, punchy BT rings changes again with EE deal - what next?

The media obsesses over startups but the reinvention of old companies is even more fascinating. Apple is, I suppose, the greatest example we have of a company’s second act: a dramatic soap opera in which past glories were not so much re-lived, as amplified and expanded. Here in the UK, BT is attempting something not quite as grand but nevertheless ambitious.

The agreement announced today to buy EE for £12.5bn ($19bn) should be seen as part of a broader attempt by its leaders to move the onus of the company away from old-school telephony and the baseline provided by its legacy as a national telecoms incumbent.

EE takes BT back into the cellular space it once inhabited as Cellnet and O2 but the backdrop to this is the company’s efforts to progress in broadband, broadcasting and services. BT’s reputation might be exactly the opposite but the firm has recently been dealing in aggressive and bold stuff. The Infinity broadband package is differentiated and immaculately marketed, a new fibre network provides a strong platform, BT Sport has changed UK digital TV, FON has changed WiFi and BT Global Services has become a truly worldwide business.

As a company with a huge customer base among businesses, BT’s next move might well be a services offering for midsized companies, perhaps through acquisition. More cloud offerings would also make sense. Certainly you wouldn’t bet against this punchy, ballsy new version of BT ringing the changes again.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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