UK fixed-line incumbent BT has launched a mobile broadband service targeted at small business customers that uses Vodafone UK’s HSPA network, reports The USB ‘dongle’ offering will cost £17.50 (+ VAT) per month as a standalone product but will also be available free for a limited period to customers subscribing to certain options on BT’s Business Total Broadband package. Alongside access to Vodafone’s HSPA network – which offers theoretical peak download speeds of 7.2 Mb/s – the service will also use BT’s ‘Openzone’ Wi-Fi network. Usage is capped at 1 GB per month as part of the broadband package but also includes 2,000 minutes via Wi-Fi hotspots. The standalone mobile broadband product has data rates capped at 3 GB.

The announcement is the latest in a series of moves made by BT into the mobile broadband space – with an emphasis on Wi-Fi. Last week, the operator announced that it had cut access fees for its Openzone network by up to 50 percent as part of a new pricing structure and is planning to add more than 2,500 new hotspots in Europe. The network now boasts 100,000 hotspots in the UK and Ireland and 50,000 overseas. BT demerged its mobile arm BT Cellnet (now O2 UK) in 2001 but has had an agreement in place with Vodafone UK for some years to use its mobile network.