BT’s quad-play foreplay could make little difference

Outlook: Quad-play does provide the benefit of having one place to go to complain when things inevitably go wrong

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The Independent Online

BT has played a canny game with its courtship of the mobile operators EE and O2. By acting as if it’s torn between the two, it has kept the asking price out of the clouds. Barring a last-minute surprise, however, it seems to have settled on EE to join it on its quad-play journey.

For those not in the know, that means bundling up and selling four different services to the industry’s long-suffering punters: mobile phone, broadband, pay TV and fixed-line telephony.

EE and BT already have a contractual relationship that might have been awkward to get out of. It also has more customers, and has invested heavily in 4G.

It appears that these factors have trumped the fact that EE has two occasionally fractious owners which could make for a greater execution risk.

Assuming the deal with EE goes ahead – and don’t rule out a last-minute twist as this big-money thriller heads towards its endgame – it’s just down to the inevitable fight with the competition, which is sure to scream blue murder to the regulators.

Not without some justification, given BT’s rather unique position: just about all of them piggyback on its fixed-line infrastructure at some point.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the customer actually wants to buy what BT wants to offer, once it’s settled on a partner and got the deal done.

Quad-play does provide the benefit of having one place to go to complain when things inevitably go wrong, although given that most providers turn a tin ear to their customers most of the time, that doesn’t necessarily count for much.

More to the point, many, perhaps most, will have contracts all over the place with different expiry dates. That only adds to the inertia against which BT’s quad-play bundle will have to battle.

It’s worth remembering that quad-play has been available for seven years with Virgin Media, and more recently with TalkTalk. It doesn’t appear to have had a massive impact on the market.

As one Ronan Dunne pointed out recently. He’s the boss of O2, by the way, so perhaps he won’t be too concerned by the outcome of this little drama.

It’s good to have healthy alternatives, but then . . .

 When the weather’s miserable and you’re full of cold, a bowl of fruit is probably the best breakfast you can have. But it just pales in comparison with a Greggs special.

The chain has recently changed, and updated its offer. You can still stuff your face and stomach with unhealthy pastries to your heart’s (dis)content, but Greggs also offers healthier options and has even turned its attention to making a decent cup of coffee.

Still, if Greggs is genuinely back on a roll, it’s surely one stuffed with sausage, bacon, ketchup and other things that are so wrong they’re right.