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Fusion breaks 100k subs barrier, maybe

UK telco BT may well have shocked the sceptics following reports that it has passed the 100,000 subscriber milestone for its Fusion service.

The operator has caught a lot of flack in the media recently after it emerged that the service was off to a slow start, signing up just 30,000 customers by the end of May – nine months after launch.

But it now looks like BT has picked up the pace and appears to have signed up a further 70,000 plus subscribers in the last five months. The introduction of the Motorola RAZR is seen as a likely catalyst to driving adoption.

The 100,000 figure was intially reported by Disruptive Wireless analyst, Dean Bubley, while visiting BT’s labs at Adastral Park this week. However, BT has since come forward to say that this figure is incorrect, although an official figure has not been released.

BT’s current Fusion offering only enables connectivity via Bluetooth or cellular. The launch of the wifi-enabled version is expected imminently.

Telecoms.com recently had a chat with BT’s first corporate Fusion user and trialist of the wifi-enabled version of the platform. Adrian Fegan, head of ICT operations at Leeds City Council seemed impressed by the technology, saying that handover between the wireless and cellular networks had been working perfectly. Unlike the consumer version of Fusion, which locks users into Vodafone for cellular services, enterprise customers are free to choose their cellular provider.

Leeds Council has an eye to rolling out the technology to its 26,000 lines and cites the benefits as decreased call costs and increased productivity. Ultimately, Fegan said the Coucil could use the platform to deliver IP-enabled applications to PDA devices.

The Leeds Council trial runs until the end of October and is using the Nokia E61 and a Qtek Microsoft Windows device.

Disruptive Analysis’ Bubley said that he would not be surprised to see 500,000 FMC dual mode users in the UK by the end of 2007, and potentially 1 million or more in 2008 if VCC or the equivalent kicks in.

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