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Thursday, May 31, 2007

BT Fusion and Orange Unik

Some interesting facts & figures from this morning's UMA webcast done jointly by Kineto & Orange.

France Telecom has an installed base of 4.8m LiveBox gateways (mostly in France), and has >140k Unik subscriptions & has sold >200k phones (also mostly in France). Current run rate sounds like around 25k phones a month.

Have to say I'm surprised by the statistic that 15-20% of calls involve a handover - much higher than I'd have anticipated, although there's a possibility of self-selection here: I imagine the proposition is much more attractive to people who use their phones at home a lot. It could also be they've tuned the LiveBox WiFi to a smaller range & so there's some occasional accidental handovers to the macro network.

By contrast BT is reported to have (still) only around 40k Fusion users, although it's a bit opaque about whether that's acccounts or phones. It has an installed base of "more than 1m" Home Hubs (I think it also said the same thing at end-2006, so I'd guess the number is a fair bit more by now).

Interestingly, although BT is being castigated for its slow growth, it looks like the penetration of dual-mode into homes with operator-provided gateways is broadly similar -around 3-4% (ie 140k against 4m LiveBox in markets where Unik has launched).

I've been saying for a while that UMA-based dualmode is only really an option when sold in conjunction with an operator's home gateway, in order to minimise costs of support & complexity of configuration, as well as enabling better QoS. It will be interesting to see if T-Mobile's promised full launch in the US will work around this and run over anyone's box/connection - as well as whether it incurs the wrath of Net Neutrality issues for running it's mobile service "across someone else's broadband".

One other thing occurred to me - I think that the French aren't quite as voracious as the British in demanding the latest, most expensive, flashiest phones (ideally subsidised down to £zero). This could mean that Orange has had an easier time than BT in pushing the early unsexy, low-end UMA phones. Unik also has more attractive pricing, reflecting France's hugely competitive voice marketplace, and can offer free on-net calls to other Orange mobiles (incurring no net interconnect costs obviously), which BT cannot match in the UK.


Martyn Davies said...

Interesting to hear the BT Fusion figures. I had a conversation with a France Telecom guy last week at Eurosec Paris, who obviously had some interest in UMA. In my view BT haven't promoted the product much, and I haven't yet come across a person that is using it. Hardly surprising if there are only 40k users.

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olivier carbonneaux said...

To appreciate the number of handovers for the FT Unik phone, you may have to know that a call initiated at home is free of charge, even if you maintain the communication for 2 hours using the GSM/UMTS network afterwards... driving in the middle of nowhere..

Anonymous said...

I suspect the vast majority of people on BT Fusion are BT employees taking advantage of the staff discount on the product. That might change now that a Fusion Prepay product has been made available. On the other hand, it has been surprising, when browsing for available WiFi connections on my iPhone how many "BTFusion" hubs are reported...