BT sign
BT re-enters the mobile market after an 11-year hiatus with contracts starting at £5 per monthReuters

BT has returned to the mobile network market after a 13-year hiatus and is offering plans with 4G data and free access to five million Wi-Fi hotspots from £5 per month.

Starting at £5 for existing BT Broadband customers, the plans include free access to BT Sport and the BT Sport app, even for customers who are not BT Broadband subscribers, and work on a bring-your-own-phone basis, also known as SIM-only. The plans are 12 months long, rather than 30 days like many SIM-only tariffs.

Anyone living in a house with BT Broadband - not just the account holder - can get access to the exclusive lower prices, as every Broadband customer can take out five phone contracts for the whole family. All five plans will be bundled into a single monthly bill, and to stop children using up masses of expensive data, the bill-payer can set up monthly usage caps. Customers can also switch to a cheaper - or more expensive - BT mobile plan without having to start a new 12 month contract.

BT left the consumer mobile market in 2002 when the Bt Cellnet network was sold off and became O2.

Coinciding with its re-entry to the mobile network market, BT in early February agreed terms to buy EE for £12.5bn. This came just weeks after Hutchison Whampoa agreed to buy O2 for £10.25bn, a deal which was finalised on 24 March.

The BT mobile plans are as follows:

  • For £5 per month (or £10 for non-BT Broadband customers) you get 500MB of 4G data, unlimited texts and 200 minutes.
  • For £12 per month (or 17 for non-BT Broadband customers) you get 2GB of 4G data with unlimited texts and 500 minutes.
  • For£20 per month (or £25 for non-BT Broadband customers) you get 20GB of 4G data, plus unlimited calls and unlimited texts.

As for 4G handsets, BT is currently selling four. These include the Huawei Ascend Y550 for £149, The Samsung Galaxy Ace 4 for £159, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini for £219 and finally the Samsung Galaxy S5 for £449. But, for a limited time only, every phone can be bought with a £50 discount voucher, taking the prices down to £99 for the Huawei and £399 for the Galaxy S5.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said: "After a long time away, BT is throwing its hat back in the mobile ring with an incredibly competitive set of SIMO tariffs - provided you're an existing customer.

"In a time of hand-me-down smartphones, BT's plans are perfectly poised to become a disruptive part of its consumer strategy - and that's before the EE acquisition comes into the equation.

"Existing customers get a deal that plants BT firmly ahead of TalkTalk and Virgin from just £5 for 500MB of 4G data.

A thank-you to loyal customers

John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: "Offering BT customers the UK's best value 4G data deal is a great way to start our journey towards re-establishing ourselves as a major player in consumer mobile. These great value deals are a thank you from us to loyal BT Broadband homes. We are offering customers a new type of great value mobile deal that offers more than just data, minutes and texts."