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Get to know:
Ian Newbury

Business Development Director, Mobile Network Operators - BT Wholesale

Image profile: Ian Newbury

We’re proud of our people.

The BT Wholesale team is composed of a range of incredible individuals who all contribute to making it such a unique and exciting place to work.


We spoke to Ian Newbury, Business Development Director, Mobile Network Operators, to find out about his role, what he enjoys beyond the workplace and to help you put a face to the name.

What is your role at BT?

My role at BT is leading the Business Development team in supporting the MNO sector and digital infrastructure. My job is to oversee how we can keep our customers at BT at the forefront of mobile technology, as well as how we can work to develop the future. 


My focus is 3 to 5 years out, so I work heavily to shape the industry and talk to as many people as I can - the aim is to find the common threads to ensure we build what the industry needs, before it’s aware it needs it. 


On the digital infrastructure side, BT has the best property footprint in the UK for edge, and I am looking at how we develop the right propositions from BT Wholesale for the digital edge as it matures. Beyond that, the goal is to be able to provide an ‘Infrastructure as a Service’ offering to allow mobile network operators to go further economically.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The main thing I love about my job is how exciting and fast-paced the mobile sector is. In fact, it’s my experience that other sectors and sub-sectors often follow what we see happening in the mobile industry a year, two years or even longer afterwards.

The mobile sector is truly right at the forefront of technology. What really excites me is being able to work closely with customers, the industry and our internal technology, strategy and innovation teams to develop opportunities that can transform and drive the UK forward.

For example, BT Wholesale now has the UK’s only national Phase Synchronisation network, and I truly believe only this team is capable of that level of innovation. No two days are ever the same!

Tell us about the current landscape in MNO and how BT Wholesale fits into this.

One of the biggest current challenges in the industry is that everybody wants their mobile phone to get cheaper while demanding more by way of data - according to Ericsson, mobile data usage is set to increase fourfold by 2024.

The industry is also suffering from flat to declining ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) but costs are rising, meaning that operators need to look at monetising alternative items and services and take different approaches. These could include leveraging technologies like IoT and private networks or looking at O-RAN or increased sharing to reduce their cost base.

We are the best scalable entity to be able to aggregate that demand and use it to get better buying power for our customers, as well as building end-to-end solutions that help to drive those costs down. We also have a fantastic exchange footprint in excess of 5,000 exchanges and offer a huge amount of insight through that. We’ve also conducted research and trials together with Three and EE on ‘Centralised-RAN’ (C-RAN) technology and its applications for improving mobile connectivity.

What is your proudest moment in mobile?

Another difficult one! One major success has been deploying small cells into payphones, when many had told us this wouldn’t be possible – we’ve now installed them in the thousands of fantastic locations in the UK without impacting the landscape negatively.


We also deployed the first global virtualised-RAN (V-RAN) indoor neutral host solution - to be able to take that idea from an initial conversation with customers and develop it into a market-first Proof of Concept made me hugely proud.

On the people side of things, it’s been amazing to see former colleagues and team members rise up through the ranks and do amazing things in the industry.

Finally, working with 3 of the 4 MNOs to be the first to launch 4G in the UK was a real stand-out moment for me.

What are the MNO team’s main priorities for 2023?

Our main priority as an organisation is to strengthen our relationship and collaboration with the MNOs. Following the merger of Virgin Media and O2 and the potential merger of Vodafone and Three, I still strongly believe that BT Wholesale are uniquely positioned to be able to support all operators in making the UK number one for mobile technology.

As an industry, we have to find a way to reduce cost - telecoms is the lowest performing sector in Europe over the last few years, so working closely with our customers to do that and help them achieve their ambitions will be key.

What future trends are you most excited about?

Private networks are a really interesting development for me - there’s potentially a 10-year lifespan, but there’s so much innovation to be achieved in that space of time. Once we get cost bases down, things like network slicing and the edge are both extremely exciting trends and ones where BT Wholesale is in an excellent position to act as the federator to bring the industry together.

Seeing the power of 5G is also very intriguing to me, alongside the IoT evolution - as a massive Sci-Fi fan, the idea of a drone making deliveries for me or getting updates on my loved ones through real-time data really excite me as well. The power of what the technology we’re developing could do in the future is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What do you do outside of work?

I‘m married and a father of two adult children and I love spending time with my family when I’m not at work. 

Football plays a very large role in my life. I am head coach for Junior Training (4-6-year-olds) for my club where I teach them the fundamentals of the sport, through a fun interactive environment and train up new coaches to get both ready for competitive football which starts at Under 7s. It brings me real joy to give back to the sport that’s given me so much. I also play competitively and socially and when I’m not playing or coaching, I try to go and see my daughter who plays for Surrey University or my beloved, but often disappointing, Tottenham as much as possible.

Otherwise, I enjoy games of chess, reading, Sci-Fi movies and nurturing my love for dogs by taking care of my 13-year-old German Shepherd. In summary, never mention football or dogs to me if you wanted to discuss work!

Lastly, I do my best to give back to the community. I’m a trustee for the board of the local YMCA in Maidstone and I volunteer for BT and my football club on charity events for causes like Sports Relief whenever I can fit it in.

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