Monday, January 10, 2005

Cat fight in the UK voice market

I don't know if everyone in the UK voice market spent too long at the pub at lunchtime today, but based on some of the comments coming out in the wake of the Post Office's push into voice, we may be headed for a punch-up. Earlier today, Reuters ran a story quoting BT's head of consumer, Gavin Patterson, as saying:

"If customers are looking for good value from the Post Office, frankly they're
better off sticking to stamps."

This has just been followed by a rather bad-tempered response from Carphone Warehouse. Presumably, potential customers who are interested in the service will have more success than I have had at accessing the site, unless they're expected to sign up by mail.

Seriously though, for all the negative press and poor performance stats, there are still a lot of people out there who respect and trust the brand, and who have more regular contact with the PO than with BT. Plus, the Post Office is the only entity in the UK that I can think of which currently serves more households than BT, so the 1m customers they aim to take by 2008 looks to be a pretty low hurdle. Will the PO stop at voice? Why not offer broadband as well? The key supplier/enabler of the voice product is Cable & Wireless, which now owns BullDog, the most adept of the unbundlers in the market...

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