Despite reports to the contrary, BT has not stopped marketing its converged fixed/mobile phone service, BT Fusion.
BT has no mobile arm, having sold off BT Cellnet (now known as O2) back in 2001 in an effort to pay off spiralling debts. As a consequence, BT has had to rely on broadband and IT services in recent years to drive growth, amid declining voice revenues.
The UK carrier launched BT Fusion (originally called Bluephone during its development) back in June 2005. Last year T-Mobile USA launched a similar converged service, joining France Telecom's Unik service.
In essence the Fusion handset uses Bluetooth to connect to a base station within the house to switch calls over a BT broadband link (VoIP over broadband). Once outside the house, the Fusion handset operates as a mobile phone, piggy backing on Vodafone's mobile network or BT's Wi-Fi hotspots. Nowadays, mobile operators are considering indoor 3G base stations, known as femto cells.
But barely two-and-a-half years after its launch, BT has stopped marketing Fusion according to a report in the Daily Telegraph.
"We continue to market Fusion to small businesses and corporate customers," a BT spokesman told PC Advisor's sister title Techworld, although he admitted that marketing of the device to the consumer market has been scaled down.
"We have scaled down the marketing for our consumer audience," he said.
"Fusion has been warmly received by small business and corporate," added the spokesman. "There are clear economic benefits for businesses using the Fusion service."
However BT has sold only 45,000 Fusion phones since its launch back in 2005 to the consumer market, a far cry from the millions of customers it was hoping for when it was launched.
BT said that it has no figures for the business sector, as Fusion phones often tend to be used in a combined service offering.
BT did however reveal that it is conducting a low-level trial for a new mobile service, aimed at the consumer market. This would use a BlackBerry style device, which would give customers internet and email access. The Telegraph says the BlackBerry-type devices would be made by Taiwan's HTC, and the service would use the same technology as Fusion.
BT does not have a launch date for this new service, and the UK carrier will unveil its third quarter results tomorrow.
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