BT is set to bid harder for voice-data convergence business among government and mid-sized organisations by merging two specialist companies that it bought last year, and turning them into a semi-independent group within BT Global Services.

The two specialists, Skynet and TNS, have been combined into a new group called BT iNet. This has its own managing director and board, and will offer Cisco-based IP telephony on a BT comms backbone, said Cormac Whelan, BT Global Service's general manager for IP networking.

"Global Services offered those capabilities but not in as dynamic and flexible a way as Skynet and TNS - that's why we haven't integrated them into Global Services," Whelan said. He added though that BT iNet will operate as "a seamless part" of the wider BT portfolio, so it won't have its own pricing.

As well as IPT, BT said that iNet has expertise in wireless LANs, security and managed services. Taken together, the two companies turned over £35 million in the year before BT bought them, and Whelan said they have continued to grow well since then.

BT's main aim in creating iNet is to win a bigger chunk of the fast growing LAN-IPT convergence market, by buying expertise in how to reach government organisations and SMEs. BT Global Services has done well here but there is scope to do much much better, Whelan said, adding that when you are trying to reach the so-called 'mid-market', the more channels you have, the better.

However, more channels also means BT iNet will compete with other network integrators who resell BT services, such as Logicalis and Prime.

"A multi-channel strategy is always a balancing act," said Whelan. "BT iNet will offer convergence on BT infrastructure, with the benefits of BT's wider process and efficiency. Others will offer greater independence, because they're not network providers."