BT launches SoHo unit to boost U.K.'s smallest firms

BT has created a new Single/Small Office/Home Office (SoHo) unit to cater to the communications needs of the U.K.'s smallest businesses – those with nine or fewer employees – that comprise more than 95% of the nation’s private sector companies and around 5.7 million potential customer accounts.

The SoHo unit officially will launch on July 1, but those micro-businesses that it aims to serve already have access to their first specially-targeted service package, an “unbreakable” Wi-Fi with guaranteed full workplace coverage and free tech support.

BT also has revamped its Halo for business broadband converged service bundles to include, among other offerings, fiber-based broadband speeds of up to 900Mps; 4G mobile broadband back-up of fixed lines and next day connectivity through BT’s Hybrid Connect program; a BT Digital Phone Line that provides business calling features through a smartphone; a free visit from BT tech support to optimize new installations; and business-grade security, secure cloud back-up and antivirus protection as package options.

The U.K. telco also is offering guarantees on minimum speed, coverage and connections thresholds, and if BT fails to meet those guarantees, customers can exit their service contracts without penalties. The company also is guaranteeing a fixed price for the duration of customer’s 24-month contracts on Halo for business bundles. 

BT said it is starting the new business unit because it believes that U.K.’s smallest firms, whether home-based businesses, tiny start-ups or more established single-site firms, will be key to a strong economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The company in a statement referred to its own research, which found that “three quarters of the U.K.’s small firms are confident in the success of their business as lockdown restrictions lift. And with around 800,000 new U.K. businesses set up during the pandemic – a year-on-year rise of 40 per cent [according to an IAB report – the rise of digital shopkeepers and freelancers mean that an increasing number are running their business from home.”

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In addition to targeting those businesses with new telecom services, the SoHo unit also is focusing on creating services and apps aimed at giving these businesses a stronger “digital foundation.” These may include stronger cyber security measures, free digital skills training and new digital advertising tools, the company said.

Chris Sims, BT’s managing director for its new SoHo unit, said: “By setting up this new unit we’re investing in the future of the U.K.’s smallest firms and start-ups which are the lifeblood of the U.K. economy. I’m really proud to be leading this new unit at a time when their success has never been more important in securing our country’s future as we rebuild after the toughest economic crisis in a generation.”

The new SoHo unit will be part of BT’s Enterprise division.