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BT Launch Halo 3+ to Combine WiFi, Mobile and FTTP Broadband

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 (7:56 am) - Score 11,544
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UK ISP BT and EE has today combined to launch their new converged Halo 3+ package (add-on), which is a hybrid solution that is intended to give customers the “best” all-in-one broadband (e.g. full fibre FTTP as standard), WiFi coverage (“the UK’s only unbreakable Wi-Fi connection“) and mobile (mobile Broadband) connectivity.

BT have been working to converge the benefits of their different networks (broadband, mobile and home WiFi) for quite a few years and the latest Halo 3+ product is another extension of that on-going effort. The goal here is generally to create an increasingly seamless connectivity solution between the different network platforms.

Naturally, there are a number of differences between Halo 2 and Halo 3+ (there’s also a ‘Standard Halo 3’ product, but we’ll come back to that), although the main ones are the addition of a pledge to upgrade customers to Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband “at no extra cost” (i.e. as soon as it’s available) and the new Hybrid Connect device.

You’ll generally be able to take Halo 3+ alongside one of BT’s broadband bundles (these start from £65.99 per month). Now on to what you’ll actually get for that..

Standard BT Halo 3 Features

Keep Connected Promise

Customers will be sent a BT Mini Hub (4G) to keep them online if they’re moving home or have any broadband issues, and will automatically receive unlimited mobile data on all of their BT mobile plans.

Inclusive access to Home Tech Experts

Customers can book in a 2-hour slot, 7 days a week, for wi-fi help 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. Home Tech Experts will also come round once a year to make sure the customer’s wi-fi is working perfectly for their specific needs at no extra cost.

The BT Halo Price Promise

No out of contract price rises and you’ll never pay more than a new customer for their service.

Additional BT Halo 3+ Features

Hybrid Connect

The always-on Hybrid Connect device works with the Smart Hub 2 to automatically connect to the EE mobile network for back up if required. Hybrid Connect also works with BT Complete Wi-Fi, so whether connected to broadband or the EE network, customers will continue to receive a signal in those hard-to-reach places in the home. When the broadband connection is restored, it will automatically defer back to the fixed connection, minimising any interruption to internet use.

The device will also provide instant connectivity for new customers while they wait for their fixed line broadband to be activated. The Hybrid Connect device is sent out the same day when it is ordered by 3pm, with 24-hour delivery.

Smart Hub 2 router included by default

Complete Wi-Fi (mesh WiFi system for “reliable connectivity in every room“)

Full Fibre upgrade at no extra cost

BT Mobile and EE mobile benefits

All BT Mobile customers within a BT Halo household will benefit from a double data boost free of charge. Additional great offers and benefits are available for those who take an EE mobile, including six-months half price on a new EE Mobile Smart plan at launch, with further offers enabling customers to get the best of BT and the best EE over time.

Alternatively, customers can add Hybrid Connect as a separate add-on from £7 per month. Similarly, Complete Wi-Fi can be added to existing broadband plans for £10 per month, without needing to take Halo.

Christian Thrane, MD of Marketing BT Consumer, said:

“With BT Halo 3+, we’re launching an innovative new category of home broadband that’s truly a first of its kind in the UK. We are combining the best fibre home broadband and wi-fi technology, backed up with our award-winning EE mobile network to become the only UK provider that offers customers an unbreakable wi-fi connection in the home.

BT Halo 3+ offers a super reliable service with the best connectivity for all corners of the home, giving the whole family peace of mind they can work, homeschool or keep in touch with friends and family without interruptions.”

The Halo products are just one of the ways that BT and EE have found to help show off the benefits of convergence (aside from longer-term cost and efficiency savings etc.), which is something that Virgin Media will need to catch-up on when they complete their merger with mobile operator O2 in the middle of this year.

On the other hand, the fact that all of this tends to cost quite a bit of extra money will continue to discourage many budget conscious consumers, particularly in the current climate. However, you could also argue that the rise in working from home may equally encourage others to invest more into securing greater resilience for their internet connectivity.

The only negative we can see in the above bundle, other than the extra cost, is that BT has made no mention of that fact that their mobile side will only be 4G. At least they don’t state 5G anywhere in the press release and their previous decision to scrub 5G from new BT Mobile plans suggests no change to that stance (here).

Otherwise we’d caution BT against claiming to offer the “UK’s only unbreakable Wi-Fi connection,” since in our experience you can always find ways to “break” even the best WiFi (e.g. unplug it 🙂 ), although their converged setup is definitely one of the strongest bundled solutions from any ISP.

BT Halo 3+ will be available nationwide from Friday 5th February 2021 this week.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
23 Responses
  1. Avatar E says:

    So we are going with ‘unbreakable’ WiFi now eh. I can see that slogan being removed after the other providers find something to complain about it. Still a tech visit when you want and a health check once a year seems a good idea for some people.

    1. Avatar Jimbo says:

      Yes agree,

      Another slogan for BT, unbreakable WiFi.

      My local EE mast is oversubscribed,and needs fibre backhaul,not a microwave link.(mbnl engineer chat)

      Im getting 3 M down and 0.5 up LTE+ lets hope 5G is improvement.

    2. Avatar Bubblesthefish6 says:

      LOL, if ive seen how reliable EE is, its deffo breakable.

  2. Avatar Sam says:

    What’s the gadget to the left?

    1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      https://www.bt.com/content/dam/bt/help/user-guides/BT-4G-Mini-Hub-2020-User-Guide-Halo.pdf
      BT 4G Mini Hub (appears failover backup rather than hybrid unless BT are going to do something in the Hub)

    2. Avatar Scott says:

      Gadget to the left is a 4G Hub – although not the one Meadmodj has linked to.

      Can see it better on the image on the Pocket Lint article – sorry to link away from here (https://www.pocket-lint.com/smart-home/news/bt/155580-bt-halo-3-broadband-service-combines-fibre-and-mobile-internet-to-ensure-you-never-lose-connection).

  3. Avatar Marc says:

    Been on the beta trail for this since early December and whilst the 4g hub does work as advertised with 2 out of 3 bar connection I’m lucky if I get more than 2 Meg download. Ping is also up in the 400ms region. Not sure if it’s a problem with firmware or congestion on the EE mast but for me it is all but useless for anything but basic Web browsing.

    1. Avatar Sam says:

      Does it require mains power?

    2. Avatar Marc says:

      Yes it does. Once it’s connected you can put it anywhere around your house.

  4. Avatar Lee b says:

    Bt have been offering a similar service to business customers with 4g assure for a few years.

    One massive benefit is being able to say to customers at point of sale that they’ll be up and running as soon as they get the equipment in the post rather than waiting 2 weeks for working line takeover or god knows how long for a full provide in the current climate.

    Also, being able to say to customers that there is a seamless backup, albeit maybe slower, if the broadband goes down so a big advantage to those working from home.

  5. Avatar Rob says:

    Would it be too hard or costly for BT to incorporate 4G dongle tech within each Hub with a fixed sim to the broadband account?

    Then as soon as the connection goes down the 4G could kick in and report back the log of what the issue might be automatically?

    By the time between reporting the issue, having tech support tell you to switch it off and on again then get a 4G Hub sent out in the post. The issue probably coukd have been fixed.

  6. Avatar zzing says:

    Sorry too expensive. And interfering with peoples LANs is not what we need, as the connection side needs severe beefing up.

    Failover of 90secs is way too slow. It’d be better if they incorporated OSPF to find the new route faster.

  7. Avatar James™ says:

    Great all-in-one solution for those that are not that tech savvy.

    Although I do wish for those of us who are that they offer the option to just receive a modem for those that have their own home network.

  8. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    It appears to be more evolution than ground up design. BT have had plenty of time to introduce a hub similar to some Draytek designs that include DSL, 4G and Ethernet WAN’s with load balancing but chose not too. They have the purchasing power to procure a cost effective device. The use of both a fixed and mobile broadband in conjunction is of more use.

    BT Business Hub versions have had the 4G Dongle option within their firmware for some time.

    The BT 4G Mini Hub has been a discrete device but the guide to this Hybrid Connect infers that it should remain plugged in, can be connected via Ethernet or WIFI and can be moved to a more suitable location away from the Hub to get a better signal. Whether it becomes an automatic issue or just during issues such as faults or new build we will see.

    If these inclusive BT products tick enough boxes for a consumer it may meet their needs but on its own I think it misses the point, especially if focused in FTTP areas which would be regarded as more resilient. My view is the backup issue is more likely for those that will be dependent on VDSL for there foreseeable future as it does not help with problems such as increased family load and there are better and cheaper options to provide this.

    1. Avatar I says:

      FTTP is not impenetrable though. It won’t have all of the same issues that come with aging copper networks, but someone can still put a JCB through the fibre in your street and knock it out for a bit. ONTs can die. There might be a problem at the headend. etc.

      Based on the press release it would appear that this new product is always available and will kick in if the broadband is down for any reason, it is not like the existing mini hub where it either has to be sent out to you or reactivated if you happen to have one already.

    2. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      I agree but it is the ongoing cost against the probability of that failure and particularly FTTP it should be more resilient and consistent. The other issue is that having an average FTTC speed falling back to 4G may not too bad but if you become accustomed to near Giga speed falling back to 4G can only be considered an essential backup and better speeds may be gained by an individual’s phone hotspot during such outages.

  9. Avatar Jonny says:

    I think this is clever. There’s nowhere left to go in terms of improving revenues on FTTC services so products like this are all that can be offered until FTTP arrives. People want reliable home working and are prepared to pay for it, and the home visits and 4G backup are a crucial part of this. Having the 4G product delivered the next day will appeal to people who are having issues with their current provider and are under pressure by their employer to get something sorted.

    Yes you could probably do better yourself by wiring your house for access points, running a pfSense router and managing failover with a Mikrotik LTE router, but this isn’t aimed at that type of user. 90 seconds to failover is more than acceptable.

    1. Avatar James™ says:

      “people who are having issues with their current provider and are under pressure by their employer to get something sorted.”

      It should not be down to the employee to have good or fast internet, only if they employee was employed with a contract to say they should have good internet.
      E.g. if an office work is now working from home then it won’t be in their contract to have good internet it should therefore be down to the employer to offer an incentive or even an additional line into the property for better/faster internet!

    2. Avatar Jonny says:

      I agree, however that’s not the situation that many people find themselves in at the moment.

    3. Avatar Mark says:

      So if your on FTTC and no 4G then its a waste of time.

  10. Avatar Steve P says:

    Can’t seem to find anywhere on the BT site to choose the ‘3+’ option. Anyone got the link?

  11. Avatar CJS says:

    Seems you can only Get the ‘always on’ BT Halo 3+ (Plus) – if you are on a 4G EE Mast with good coverage (as prescribed by BT) – we are in a good coverage area – IMHO – we have excellent 4G on EE – however – the BT ‘Computer’ says we can / should only get 2 bars – so no new Hub for us. BT did then try to upsell to BT Halo 3 (not No Plus sign) – meaning no new hub – indeed nothing new at all to what we already have – except for the possibility of 2 free techs visits < why would I want tech visit?

    Anyway long story short – this looks to be a Post Code lottery type roll out – and perhaps limited to areas BT know they will have no complaints – or are not already over-subscribed. We are rural – very lucky to have FTTP – but many other locals rely on 4G to run their home offices – I suspect over subscription of our local mast might be the true reason.

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