Archive for 2013
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said that enforcing free calls to numbers beginning with 0800, 0808 and 116 is a milestone move that will influence customers as nothing else in the last ten years. Ofcom made the decision to impose free calls to 0800 numbers from mobile phones, because a lot of customers were confused about the rate of such calls. This comes from the fact that those ‘Freephone’ numbers are really free from landlines but not from mobile phones. Ofcom also emphasized that for some Brits having an opportunity to call certain organisations is still the main communication method rather than using the Internet, emails or apps.
Apart from guaranteeing that 0800 numbers are free to call, Ofcom has also implemented a limit for the call costs to 09 numbers and will try to clear the confusion when calling 0845 numbers.
All of the announced changes will be implemented in the next 18 months, so customers will have to wait a bit before they can call ‘Freephone’ numbers for free.
Ed Richards said: “Freephone will mean free for all customers, and the cost of calling other services will be made clear. Telephone users will be able to see how much they’re paying, and where their money is going.”
After negotiating with Ofcom, majority of British operators signed a deal about capping stolen phones’ bills, mid-contract price hikes and included a promise to end roaming fees by 2016.
The deal struck between the government and EE, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone (O2 did not decide to take part in it) on December 3 regulates some issues that customers complained about. It is a result of intentions announced in September to improve the consumer experience. The plan tackles such issues as avoiding unexpectedly high bills, contract transparency and invariability, but also getting rid of roaming charges.
First, the operators agreed on establishing a cap for customer liability in case of lost or stolen handset. This will help averting problems like high bills caused by thieves. It expands the services already provided, for example, protecting the customer from the moment the phone is reported as stolen or lost. Mobile operators have not decided yet on the level of the cap and the terms and conditions, but pledged to work on it to be ready to unveil such services in spring 2014.
Second, in the last two years customers were outraged by mid-contract price hikes, that although happened according to the contract, came as a unpleasant surprise to customers. Operators who signed the deal agreed to improve the transparency of mobile phone contracts so that they comply with guidelines presented by Ofcom. Additionally, the providers are considering allowing customers to cancel a contract without any fees should there be a price-hike.
Finally, all major operators (except O2) promised to bring down roaming charges in the EU zone by 2016. However, even now operators are improving their offers by constantly lowering roaming rates and launching services that let customers use their allowances when travelling abroad. Obviously, both the government and the operators see a need to introduce necessary protections to prevent abuse and guarantee that British mobile providers are still willing to invest in networks and providing better mobile coverage.
Three UK added the USA to its range of countries in ‘ Feel At Home ’ offer, which allows customers to use their plan’s allowance or add-on allowance while being in ‘Feel At Home’ countries.
‘ Feel At Home ’ is Three UK’s free service that enables both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers to use their mobile phones without any roaming fees. It lets the customers use the plans or bundles that they have signed up for before starting to charge them for roaming. The service itself is free and it is turned on automatically when international roaming is activated. The only requirement that customers need to fulfil is being a Three UK customer for more than 30 days.
By adding the USA just before the Christmas season, the operator increased the number of countries included in the deal to 11. These are the USA, Austria, Australia, Denmark, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, as well as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau and Sri Lanka.
If you are Three UK customer, remember to purchase an add-on before you go to one of the destinations listed aboce. Although, the operator have also thought about absent-minded people, because if you are a Three UK pay as you go SIM card user, you will get special lower roaming rates when using your phone in those 11 countries.
Before you go abroad, remember that not all devices may work outside. For example, American networks require a quad-band device to connect to. All new smartphones are quad-band, but if you have an older one it is better to check the specifications before you leave.
The provider’s PAYG customers will be able to top-up while being in France and thus lowering their roaming costs.
The fruity operator presented a new deal for pay as you go customers that travel for business or pleasure to France. The offer gives any Orange UK pay as you go SIM card owner a possibility to get a top-up in France for €39.99 (ca. £34). Such top-up will give an allowance of 120 minutes, 1000 texts and 1GB of data to be used in France or when calling the rest of the world. However, you only have 14 days to use it up. Should this be not enough, you can obtain an additional top-up for €30 (ca. £25) which will give you the same allowance as the previous one.
The top-ups will be widely available in France as you will be able to get them in Orange stores, supermarkets, petrol stations and newsagents all over the country.
Definitely it is a step forward to minimizing the costs incurred due to roaming fees, but still the top-up value seems a bit high for the allowance offered. Nevertheless, at least Orange UK pay as you go users will not have to worry about the state of their PAYG accounts while in France, because they will always have an opportunity to top it up virtually anywhere.
ASDA Mobile, in wake of the move to EE, has rolled out a new PAYG tariff that is up-to-date with current mobile market. This was done in hope to attract more customers interested in pay-as-you-go SIM cards.
ASDA Mobile not only has made a big decision to move to EE’s network, but also significantly lowered its PAYG tariff. The change comes to a great benefit of customers as the majority of rates went down by 20 to 33 per cent. New ASDA has kept its one flat tariff, but cut the call rates from 10p to 8p per minute, while texts costs now just 4p in contrast to 6p before. Moreover, the MVNO used to have a bit complicated rate for data: 75p for first 25MB a day and 50p/MB thereafter. If you only used 25MB per day it meant that 1MB cost 3p, however, if you just used one more megabyte, 26MB, then the price per MB increased to almost 5p. Obviously, the average cost sky-rocketed with each additional MB of data. Right now ASDA Mobile offers a flat fee of 5p/MB.
Current and new ASDA PAYG SIM card owners can now also take advantage of new bundles. From previous 4 bundles, the provider evolved to 6 bundles that offer more flexibility and may cater for needs of modern smartphone users (for example data bundle: £5 for 500MB). In general, the new bundles offer twice as much allowance for the same price, although unlimited texts in old bundles are changed to 2000 texts in the new ones.
Full data on the new ASDA PAYG SIM card offer is available on their website at https://mobile.asda.com/ .
ASDA jumped ships from Vodafone to EE as of November 25th, 2013, thus providing its customers different mobile coverage and potential 4G service in the future.
ASDA Mobile, the supermarket MVNO, decided to start piggybacking on EE’s network instead of staying with their old partner, Vodafone. This transition happened on November 25th, 2013 and any new customer who joined ASDA after that day will receive a PAYG SIM card that works with EE. ASDA’s old customers are able to use their current SIM cards without a problem until April 30th, 2014; however, they will not be able to benefit from EE’s mobile coverage as their SIM cards will connect via Vodafone’s network. If they still want to use ASDA as their provider they need to exchange their SIM cards by the end of April 2014. To do so, they will need to follow few easy-to-follow steps.
First of all, old customers need to order a free new ASDA Mobile PAYG SIM card, which can be done via ASDA’s website. Then they need to request a special Unique Offer Code via a text. The next step is to insert your new ASDA SIM card, turn on your phone and enter your Unique Offer Code with a special syntax. This will automatically initiate the phone number transfer process, which should finish in 2 to 5 days. After that period you will be notified that the new ASDA Mobile service on EE works and your number has been transferred. Additionally, the Unique Offer Code also grants you a free welcome bundle (100 minutes, 2000 texts and 100MB for 30 days).
ASDA Mobile recommends using up all the credit on your old ASDA PAYG SIM card before making the switch, however, if you forget to do it by the end of April 2014, ASDA will deliver a refund. It will come either in form of free credit on a new SIM card or an ASDA Gift Card.
The MVNO boasts that their partnership with EE gives their customers access to mobile coverage of 99% in the UK. As of today, there were no announcements about possible cooperation with EE in terms of providing 4G mobile coverage to ASDA customers.
The community-based MVNO, Giffgaff, launched their first range of mobile phones last week. This marks a significant change in their strategy as it was known to be an operator without any customer service or any distribution channel – a pure SIM-only PAYG SIM card provider. However, right now this O2-backed MVNO has introduced a range of phones business for their customers.
Currently, Giffgaff’s offer includes such smartphones as Samsung Galaxy S4, Lumia 925, HTC One or Blackberry Q10. It means that apart from an iPhone, the MVNO has all upmarket handsets in offer. All phones are available in a PAYG deal, which means you need to buy a ‘goodybag’ bundle for £10 and the phone will come with Giffgaff PAYG SIM card. If you don’t want to pay the whole amount for the handset at once, there is a possibility to get instalments. This comes with a pleasant twist, as it is usual with Giffgaff. The instalments are offered in cooperation with a peer-to-peer lender RateSetter. This solution connects borrowers and lenders, cutting the banks out of the deal. Thanks to RateSetter customers will get a very good instalment deal without too many additional costs or too high interest rate.
All in all, introduction of a handset range that offers modern phones in a PAYG model at an affordable price may help Giffgaff boost its customer base and increase the market share.
ASDA wants to lure more customers by offering the cheapest PAYG mobile phone in the market.
ASDA seems to want to tap into budget customers who want to get affordable mobile phones at lowest cost possible. To do so the supermarket chain introduced a PAYG mobile phone on the cheap for merely 5 pounds. Surprisingly, the price is exactly just £5 as customers are not made to purchase any additional top-ups or sign up for any special tariff. Additionally, the phone comes with a T-Mobile PAYG SIM card.
The phone in question is Alcatel 1010. This handset is a very simple device and it has only basic features such as MP3 player, 3MB of memory and a wireless FM radio. If you are looking for a cutting-edge phone then Alcatel 1010 is not your choice, however, this feature phone is a very practical device if you want to use it just to call and text. It weighs around 60g, its dimensions are 106x46x13mm, and it has a small 1.45” screen with 65k colour display. This gives the phone long battery life which is a rarity in today’s world of power-hungry smartphones.
ASDA is not the first store to introduce extremely cheap mobile devices. Earlier this year, Tesco launched its own-branded tablet Tesco Hudl. Again it is not a state-of-the-art device but a sturdy and affordable budget version of popular tablets. Supermarket chains aim at people who look for new ways to save money and the period before Christmas is the season for saving money to spend it on gifts.
Vodafone gives out free cinema passes to Vodafone PAYG customers who will sign up for a deal by the end of 2013.
As Christmas time is getting closer we will see more and more special deals and offers. Vodafone PAYG wants to take advantage of this period and it devised a special PAYG SIM card deal. The offer is aimed at both existing and new customers. Whoever gets a brand new PAYG phone at Vodafone for at least £50, together with a £20 top-up (Freedom Freebee credit) is eligible to cinema tickets in 2014 with total value of £120. The deal is available to all people that will make the purchase by the end of this year and register not later than on January 14, 2014. Thanks to that, customers will have access to Freebee Rewardz Cinema Pass for the whole year. Next step is to log in every month and claim a 10-pound voucher that can be redeemed at any cinema in the UK with the Visa symbol. The Cinema Pass itself is a prepaid Visa card and the credit on it can be used to buy drinks, snacks or tickets. However, you don’t need to hurry to use the credit as the expiry date of the card is July 31, 2015.
EE is expanding its 4G range to include the first ever rural area in its 4G mobile coverage. Cumbria’s countryside is the lucky region to get 4G as the first.
EE plans the launch of 4G broadband in Cumbria on December 6. Following the roll-out, around 2,000 residents will have access to broadband at 4G speeds. Customers will have few broadband plans available and one router, Huawei B953, capable of supporting 4G. This router is the preferred choice for people living in rural areas as it was specially designed to get better signal in the countryside. However, this means that is price is not the best. EE sells it at £69.99.
EE has prepared a special deal for Cumbrians: 20GB for £25 on a contract plan. If the limit is not enough than the customers can get an extra data bundle. There are three to choose from: 2GB for £7.5, 4GB for £10 and 10GB for £15.
During the official launch event Olaf Swantee, EE’s CEO, said: “Our goal is to enhance the digital lives of everyone in the UK, and this major expansion of our superfast broadband service in one of the most rural and geographically challenging areas of the country is a big step towards that goal. Today we have proven that 4G has the capability to connect this country’s unconnected, and EE intends to continue to be at the forefront of that.”