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BT polishes its Halo in latest convergence push

BT has launched the latest iteration of its home broadband and WiFi product, BT Halo 3+, as it focuses its efforts to get ahead of the game in convergence in the UK.

The telco first mentioned Halo towards the back end of 2019 and has already moved to the third iteration of the product…with an added plus for those who choose to take it. Essentially, Halo 3+ is a fibre broadband and home WiFi service that uses the EE mobile network for back-up if needed, giving customers reliable home broadband.

Indeed, mobile back-up has given the telco the confidence to brag about “the UK’s only unbreakable WiFi connection for the home,” which is a bold – and possibly foolhardy – claim by anyone’s standards.

However, Halo 3+ customers will be able to book a home visit from BT’s team of Home Tech Experts should they experience any issues, and the team will make an annual visit as standard to check each customer’s WiFi, all apparently at no extra cost. “Simply give customer support a call and a Home Tech Expert will be round whenever needed – whether that’s to set up a new service or to fix a problem,” BT said. Given the cost of that level of customer support, BT must be pretty confident in its service.

That said, it doesn’t come cheap. BT said customers can sign up for Halo 3+ alongside its broadband bundles which start at £65.99 per month. As yet, BT has not added Halo 3+ information to the BT Halo section on its website, so we haven’t got full visibility on what costs consumers might be looking at. That information should come soon though, with the product due to launch on Friday.

Halo 3+ is based on BT’s Hybrid Connect device, which connects to the Smart Hub 2 to provide access to EE’s mobile network if needed, and to BT WiFi, BT is also pitching it as an ideal solution for those moving home for use while they wait for the fixed broadband line to be activated. It has pledged to send out the device on the day it is ordered and deliver within 24 hours.

For customers that don’t want to go the whole hog, there is a standard version of Halo 3 (without the +) that doesn’t come with Hybrid Connect, but customers do receive a BT Mini Hub, in case of broadband issues or moving home, and unlimited mobile data on BT mobile plans. So essentially, its “unbreakable” connectivity by stacking up the devices, rather than by actual convergence.

But make no mistake, this announcement is all about convergence, both in terms of simple customer stickiness – giving additional data to customers with both fixed broadband and mobile accounts, for example – or true convergence through the Hybrid Connect product. You could argue that BT is lagging behind in this respect, given that it bought EE five years ago, but it’s probably fair to say that the market in general is not yet crying out for converged offerings.

“Making users aware of the vast merits of Halo still represents a monumental challenge,” noted PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore on Wednesday.

“It feels like BT is slowly moving towards one brand which will reduce costs, avoid consumer confusion and cannibalization of revenue,” he added. That’s a fair point; a single brand could do  more for furthering convergence in the UK than even products like Halo, given that the latter is based on a fixed connection from one brand and mobile connectivity from another; that fact alone probably makes the product more difficult for consumers to understand.

Halo in general is a great development from BT, but it is putting yet another brand in front of consumers. Simplify it and they will come…if they can get over the sticker price.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Michael Ashworth 03/02/2021 @ 3:51 pm

    BT Halo does sound interesting, so I have had a look at the BT website to see how it would compare to my existing provider Vodafone and the results are not promising, as when I put my details in they would only give me a 16MBs speed, I get 80MBs already and the Halo offering is not available to me yet as there is no fibre.

    I did look at what Halo would bring to my Wi-Fi if I could get it, BT says that they will provide at 10MBs via the hubs and guaranty 3MBs, I already get a solid 73MBs through my house from my main router and range extenders (which is what a Halo is).

    The BT Router can now fall back to a mobile signal, I have a DrayTek Router that already has that functionally for a few years now, if the broadband goes down we just plug a mobile into it.

    The mobiles use the house Wi-Fi if we are around the house, which is handy for lockdown video calls.

    Then the price is a bit of a shocker I only pay £60.00 for unlimited Fibre Broadband, two mobiles with unlimited calls and texts with 15gb of mobile data, and unlimited anytime calls from my landline, this makes BT offering look a bit steep for less of a service.

    Okay I am IT savvy, but adding a new device is far from the rocket science some would have you believe, new iPad, just find the Wi-Fi network that you are connecting to pop your password in and away you go, if the device connects by ethernet cable, just plug it in and it will work.

    BT’s effort is a nice try and it will suit some people, probably the dazed and confused who would be flummoxed if asked to wire a plug up, or those with more money then sense.

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