EE is expanding its retail presence across the UK through a deal with retailer J Sainsbury Plc and with the introduction of ‘mobile’ stores.

  • 100 new EE retail outlets by 2019, to 700.
  • 95% of population to be within a 20-minute drive.
  • Reinforcing premium market positioning.
  • Some locations will also be customer support hubs.
  • No sign of any BT Consumer tie-in.

By 2019, EE is to open 100 new retail outlets at Sainsbury’s supermarkets and Argos stores as part of a deal with J Sainsbury plc. This will take EE’s retail sites to 700. The tie-up builds on earlier trials that J Sainsbury inherited when it acquired Argos in 2016. EE said it will create 400 new posts with the retail expansion.

Tying in with its network goal of reaching 95% coverage of the UK’s landmass, EE positioned its retail expansion as part of a commitment to ensuring that 95% of the UK population is within a 20-minute drive of an EE store.

The heightened presence of physical locations and the opportunities for personal contact are said to be an important element of developing and maintaining an image as a premium service provider, and ensuring that customer experience performance is positive.

“ Our view is being personal to customers, we consider ourselves a premium brand – the fastest and the biggest – so you need to give customers a premium experience… If your smartphone breaks today, you need it solved ASAP, and the easiest way is in the shop face-to-face. Us sending out a jiffy bag and you sending it back is not a great personal experience. And the best customer experience is key – if you give customers a great experience, they are happy to buy more products from you. ” – Ettienne Brandt, Managing Director of Channels and Trading, EE.

EE to mobilise it retail workforce; pop-ups

As part of the retail site expansion, the operator is also to deploy cabins and vans for mobile stores that can be positioned more flexibly, and temporarily.

It is anticipated that vans could be used for taking a retail presence to major events, such as music festivals. Meanwhile, cabins could be transported to shopping centres in remoter areas, and provide a means of testing demand for services in areas that may not support a traditional outlet.

“ We’ve rolled out 4G to places which don’t justify a shop. But we can put a cabin there and test it out and, if it works, great, you leave it and, if not, we can put it on the back of a truck and move somewhere else. ” – Brandt.

Sainsbury relationship follows earlier Argos links

It appears that the majority of the additional stores will be in Argos locations (although J Sainsbury is planning to build some Argos outlets into its existing hypermarkets, raising the prospect of EE stores within-stores-within-stores).

As BTwatch noted in summer 2016, Argos was already looking at building an alliance with EE to develop the profile and role of Argos in the mobile sector beyond its existing presence in the SIM-free mobile device segment (BTwatch, #277).

EE had also begun working with J Sainsbury earlier in 2017 as a result of the retailer’s decision to draw back from its own efforts to sell in-store mobile services at supermarkets. EE agreed to take over 16 of 38 Phone Shop previous in-store locations, with the remainder closed by the supermarket chain.

Pimped-up stores to trade on tech razzamatazz

Updated EE Showcase stores in high-profile locations will feature Help Hubs for customer service, and also “experiential zones” where new value-added services can be tested by potential buyers.

EE flagged opportunities to test the Apple Watch, Google Home smart speakers, and Samsung virtual reality gear in-store, covering the bases for important partners.

EE also highlighted trials of an in-store video-calling service, which customers can use to speak to a centralised specialist customer service team.

Keeping BT at a distance?

There was little indication in the new EE promotion that BT Consumer services might be promoted in its new stores.

Although EE has previously offered special deals on BT Sport, it appears likely that it will at least for now continue to focus on promoting its own fixed-line offerings and maintain a distance to its sister division.

The mobile operator is, however, believed to be using internal BT technology for the provision of video-conferencing services as part of trials of instore video access to specialist customer service teams.

Image: © EE.

Table of Contents

3 Executive brief

5 Group

Associations
AGM
6 “Humbled” BT survives AGM relatively unscathed
Ofcom Winter 2017 spectrum auction
Regulatory
7 Ofcom unveils updated 5G auction plans
7 Table 1 Current UK total mobile spectrum holdings
Management update
8 McKinsey overseeing latest BT restructure plan
Pension
8 Lowth pondering BG trick to curb pension crisis
8 Ofcom takes gradual approach to curbing spectrum dominance
8 Regulator warns on slower pace for future auctions
Q1 FY17-18 results
9 Q1: body-slammed again, regrouping
9 All over by Christmas, unless Three opens new front
9 BT rises above hoarding allegations to act for good of the nation…

11 Consumer

Competitors
12 Sky and Virgin Media pull ahead of YouView on targeted ads
12 BT completes rugby takeover
Plusnet
13 BT props up its live offering
13 Rugby on the up as pricy soccer stutters
13 BT’s international hockey rights expanded

15 EE

Restructuring
16 Confirmed: Allera to lead merged Consumer-EE from September
Products and services
16 EE expands Apple Music offer with zero-rating play
16 EE breaks with BT strategy on ensnaring customers in contract extensions
Net neutrality
17 Zero rating in the UK
17 EE and rivals playing in net neutrality grey area
17 Zero-rating to lure users into bigger data bundles
18 No just EE testing the limits…
18 EE to zero-rate BT Sport next?
Networks
19 Allera on planning challenges
Networks
19 EE scores 750Mbps at Wembley; Qualcomm, Sony assist
20 Table 2 You say you want an evolution: picking up speed from Cat-4 through to Cat-16
20 Playing away from Wembley is more difficult
Retail
21 EE to expand retail presence through J Sainsbury link-up
21 EE to mobilise it retail workforce; pop-ups
21 Sainsbury relationship follows earlier Argos links
22 Pimped-up stores to trade on tech razzamatazz
22 Keeping BT at a distance?
Suppliers
22 VoltServer supporting safe electricity for balloon masts

24 Business and Public Sector

Channel
25 BT reboots Business Partner Channel
25 One-stop partner shop
25 Business time
Products and services
Health sector
26 BT signs new five-year deal with Surrey CCG
26 BT’s health services unit reinvigorated by injection of new blood
Products and services
27 BT trumpets air power

28 Global Services

BT Italia
Legal and regulatory
Security
29 BT goes on security offensive
Security
30 RedShield added to BT’s security portfolio
30 Good neighbours make good (cyber) fences
30 White paper sets out blueprint for corporate response to cyber threats
30 Virtually secure

32 Openreach

DCR
33 Ofcom launches new Openreach compliance squad
33 Unit to work collaboratively, carry a structural separation stick
Management update
34 Openreach calls for inputs on FTTP future
34 Three-year timeframe for changes to have consequences
34 BT wary of responsibility for market transformation
Management update
36 Progress being made on conditions for new Commitments to come into force
Management update
36 New look Openreach to reflect new world order
Trials and pilots
37 Openreach updates at ISP Forum event
37 Selley goes on media charm offensive
Trials and pilots
38 G.INP trials on ECI cabinets to resume
38 Selley asserts independence with challenge to established thinking
38 Selley on the BT pension
G.fast
39 New G.fast council certifies first products
39 BT partners – and some new names — secure certification
Trials and pilots
Regulatory
40 Ofcom’s dark fibre access derailed
40 Table 3 G.fast-certified customer premises equipment and distribution point units
Regulatory
41 Poacher-in-chief: Ofwat’s Ross to replace Ofcom’s Williams
41 NetComm Wireless linked with BT FTTdp work
41 Fight the power

43 Further reading

46 Index

Index

Symbols

21st Century Fox
Sky
– Sky Sports 12, 13
– – A
Adobe Systems, Inc. 6
ADTRAN 41
Apple 7, 16, 17, 22
Apple Music 16, 17
– iPhone 7
– Arbor Networks 30
Aviva 12, 13

B

BG Group 8
Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) 17
Broadband Forum 39, 40, 45
Gfast Council 39, 40, 45
– Broadcom 40
BT Group 6, 8, 29, 36, 38, 39, 40
BT Business & Public Sector 8, 25, 26, 27, 33
– BT Local Business 25
– – BT Northern Ireland 33
– – BT Consumer 8, 12, 13, 18, 22
– BT Commitment 36
– – BT Infinity 27
– – BT TV 12, 18
– – Plusnet 13, 40
– – BT Global Services 8, 28, 29
– BT Americas 30
– – BT Italia 6, 29
– – BT Security 29, 30
– – BT Pension Scheme 36
– Crown Guarantee 36
– – BT Technology, Service and Operations 8
– Business and Public Sector
– BT Air Logistics 27
– – Directors
– Rake, Sir Michael 6
– – Rose, Nick 6
– – EE 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25
– Executives
– Allera, Marc 8, 9, 19
– – Brandt, Etienne 21
– – Foster, Kevin 39
– – Hall, Jason 26
– – Hughes, Mark 29
– – Lowth, Simon 8
– – O’Neill, Colm 27
– – Patterson, Gavin 6
– – Rathborne, Steve 25
– – Selley, Clive 34, 37, 38
– – Openreach 6, 32, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41
– C
Cabinet Office (UK)
Public Sector Network 26
– Calix 40
Cisco Systems, Inc. 6, 30
CK Hutchison 7, 9
Three Group
– Three UK 7, 9, 17
– – Cloud Industry Forum 6

D

Deezer 17
Dell 6
Deloitte 6
Deutsche Telekom 29, 30
T-Systems 6
– Digital Economy Act (UK) 36

E

ECI 38
Electronic Communications Code 19
European Professional Club Rugby 12
European Rugby Cup
Heineken Cup 13
– European Union 16, 17
Experian 6

F

Fédération Int. de Football Assoc. (FIFA)
World Cup 13
– Football Association
Premier League 13
– G
General Electric Co. (GE)
NBC Universal
– National Broadcasting Company (NBC) 12
– – Google 22

H

Heineken Holding 13
HM Revenue & Customs 27
HTC 7
Huawei Technologies 30, 37, 38, 40

I

Intel
Intel Security 30
– International Hockey Federation 13

J

Juniper Networks 30

K

KPMG 6, 29, 30

L

Liberty Global 12
Virgin Media 12, 16
– M
Mainline Communications 25
McKinsey & Company 8
Metanoia Communications 40
Microsoft 6
MTV 12

N

National Health Service (NHS, UK) 26
N3 26
– NetComm Wireless 41
Netflix 17
Nokia 40
NTT 29

O

Ofcom 7, 8, 9, 16, 17, 33, 34, 36, 37, 38
Strategic Review of the Telecoms Sector 33
– Orange 30

P

Pace Micro Technology 40
PricewaterhouseCoopers 6, 29
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board 29
Public Sector Network 26

S

Sainsbury, J 21
Argos 21
– Samsung 7, 22
Sckipio 40
SoundCloud 17
Strategic Review of the Digital Communications Market 33
Surrey County Council 26
Swisscom 40
Symantec 30

T

Technicolor 40
Technology
ADSL 13
– Broadband 9, 13, 17, 25, 27, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 45
– Ethernet 40
– Fibre 13, 22, 34, 37, 38, 40, 41
– Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 40
– – Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 34
– G.fast 34, 39, 40, 41
– IPTV 40
– MPLS 26
– VDSL 37, 41
– VoD 12
– Telefónica 7, 16
O2 UK 9, 16
– TVPlayer 17

V

Viacom 12
Channel 5 12
– VMware 6
Vodafone 7, 9
UK 9
– VoltServer 22, 41

Y

YouView 12

Z

Zscaler 30

About

About BTwatch

Report: #288
Covering: July 2017
Published: July 2017
Next report: September 2017
For more information visit: BTwatch