BT are well-known in Britain as the main company to provide phone lines to houses and businesses in the UK, and with the exception of Virgin Media’s cable network this is largely true.

BT is now split into two separate departments, with BT retail providing services directly to their customers, and BT wholesale managing their extensive network of telephone exchanges and lines.

BT Retail offers users line rental, telephone packages, broadband options and BT Vision, which gives users a paid-for digital TV service with extra channels including Sky Sports 1 and 2, along with On Demand television and films.

Whilst previously most people in the country paid their line rental to BT, and indeed their phone bills, the introduction of various companies like Talk Talk, Sky, and the Post Office has led to BT losing much of its market-share.

This is not to say that BT deliver a bad service; but with other providers able to access BT’s extensive network to deliver services, many of them have undercut BT’s prices, and consumers can now shop around for the best deal.

BT Vision is unique to BT, and they provide customers with a set-top box which uses a combination of broadband and the Digital TV signal to provide extra TV channels, and an On Demand movie service – often at a much cheaper price than Sky and Virgin Media.

BT Wholesale run the network of phone lines, and will install new lines into houses as well as upgrade and improve the existing network.

Other retail companies such as Talk Talk and Sky will rent space in the exchanges and use of the phone lines from the wholesale division, who in turn use the money to maintain the network’s upkeep.

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