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Operators want to cap charges on stolen mobiles

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Operators' joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls

Operators’ joint initiative will protect consumers against high bills for unauthorised calls

The UK government in cooperation with major operators announced their initiative to introduce £100 cap in order to safeguard consumers from horrendous bills.

EE, O2, Three, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone are the first major mobile providers that decided to sign a new Code of Practice prepared by Mobile Broadband Group (MBG) and endorsed by the British government. Among many new protection policies in the Code, the most exciting is the introduction of so-called “liability cap” which protects pay monthly customers from being faced with shock bills. The operators established that the cap will be set at £100 so that their customers will not pay more than that if their phone was lost or stolen. The requirement is that customers have to report the incident to the police and their operator within 24 hours.

If you have a PAYG SIM card, you won’t lose much money due to your phone being misused by criminals. In the worst case scenario, you will lose money equal to the value of your phone plus your credit, which probably is never more than 30 quids. Pay monthly customers have much more to lose. National Mobile Phone Crime Unit reports that there are roughly 300,000 mobile phones reported as stolen each year. Some consumers supposedly received bills as high as £23,000 for unauthorised calls made by criminals. Citizen Advice Bureau estimates that in a period of 11 months (from April 2014 to February 2015) thieves were responsible for £140,000 of loss just for the bills on stolen mobile phones.  The new liability cap will give contract customers some peace of mind as they won’t have to worry about the mobile charges that thieves can run up.

Among the members of MBG, only Three UK has introduced such a cap so far. Other operators promised to do so this year. EE said that their cap will be rolled out in the upcoming weeks, Virgin announced it to happen on July 1, Vodafone will follow others this summer, while O2 gave itself a deadline of September 2015.  However, outside the MBG there is one operator that has already thought about the issue.  It is Tesco Mobile which have even lower cap of just £50.

Nevertheless, the official statistics show how big problem stolen mobile phones is. Remember that normally the operator will probably hold you responsible for any charges incurred before informing them and it’s up to them whether they will reduce the bill as a gesture of good will. Even though being robbed of your phone shouldn’t be a likely situation we can see how PAYG SIM cards are superior to PAYM ones in such a case, but thankfully the “liability cap” will protect customers against receiving a shocking bill.

Written by adm

March 26th, 2015 at 5:08 pm

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Hutchison in serious talks to take over O2

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First we had the Big Five, which has quite recently been reduced to the Big Four. Is Three the magic number then?

First we had the Big Five, which has quite recently been reduced to the Big Four. Is Three the magic number then?

Hutchison Whampoa, owner of Three UK, confirmed that it is negotiating terms of acquiring O2 UK for over £9 billion.

Beginning of this year showed that 2015 might very likely be the year of consolidation. First it was BT that announced its desire to come into the mobile market through an acquisition of one of the main players. BT was supposedly in talks with both O2 and EE but shortly afterwards O2 was not longer in their scope of interest and currently BT is continuing its negotiations with EE which may likely end up positively. A couple of days later, it turned out that Hutchison Whampoa, mother-company of Three UK, also wants to invest their money in a potential huge buyout. Naturally, the operator they approached was O2. This was officially confirmed by the multinational telecoms corporation a few days ago and the proposed deal is estimated at £9.25 billion.

BT’s plans to merge with EE is considered to be a natural move for a company that wants to offer quadplay and from the point of view of customers and regulatory bodies it shouldn’t pose any risks or worries. This isn’t the case for Hutchison-O2 deal. Mainly it is due to the fact that this will effectively reduce the four main providers balance and leave only three major operators in play. We have seen the results of this in other European markets. For example, after Three purchased Orange in Austria that highly competitive market became less competitive and prices of some contract plans even went up. This may not happen in the UK but we would definitely see the price war slow down considerably.

Most experts believe that the BT-EE deal will not have any problems with being granted approval by Ofcom and the European Commission; however this may not be the same for Three’s potential deal with O2. First of all, we heard Ofcom stating that the four operators’ status quo in the UK seems to be the best solution for the market. Second, the final decision has to be made by EC which usually looks deeply into such market changes and most likely would accept the deal only after securing much advantage for other players in the market.  But Hutchison has already successfully dealt with the EC several times. For example, it bought O2 Ireland for around £600 million last year so regulatory bodies are not an obstacle that cannot be overcome.

Should the deal come through, Hutchison Whampoa would amass customer base in the UK of roughly 34 million, which would effectively make it the biggest British operator with around 41% of the market. There is also the case of O2’s brand which is more recognizable than Three’s and has deeper roots in the British society. In the Republic of Ireland, both O2’s and Three’s brands are still in operation but O2’s sports sponsorships are being taken over by Three which might signify that the O2 brand will sooner or later disappear from the Emerald Island. Time will tell if O2 UK shares the same fate.

Written by adm

January 27th, 2015 at 11:56 am

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Both EE and O2 are up for sale!

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New Year may be bring a big change on the British telecoms market

New Year may be bring a big change on the British telecoms market

Owners of EE and O2 are considering their options as both BT and Three UK are interested in buying them out

Last week rumours about talks between operators were confirmed. Both O2 and EE were approached by BT representatives as it seems that the British telecommunications company wants to come back to the mobile market. Analysts estimate that EE is the largest network in the UK with one-third of the market in their hands, while O2 is just behind it with a quarter of the market.  The potential value of these main operators is £10bn and £9bn respectively. EE is owned by Deutsche Telekom and Orange and these two shareholders were looking into many options, however, this is the first time that a possible sale is seriously considered. The other operator, who is up for grabs, is O2. If BT bought it, then the history would make a circle as O2 was originally cut out of BT Group in 2001 which was then operating in the red.  A few years later it was bought by French Telefonica.  There has not been any official statement released by BT so what we know is that both main operators have talked with BT but they are probably secretly negotiating.

But the situation got a bit more complicated as Hutchison Whampoa, Three UK’s parent company, also got interested into expanding their market share by acquiring either O2 or EE. This Chinese multinational company has been recently spending a lot of money on buy-outs and merger. For example, this year it has bought O2 Ireland. With two potential buyers it seems that we might soon see a big change on the telecoms market

Obviously the talks are in preliminary stages and such a big acquisition had to be approved by Ofcom. The watchdog once stated that having four main operators creates a healthy market in the UK. This means that Hutchison Whampoa may have to worry about whether it would be allowed to conclude such a purchase. On the other hand, BT’s return to the market would definitely create a new powerful competition on the market but would not disturb the balance and we would still have four independent operators.

Written by adm

December 2nd, 2014 at 12:04 pm

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O2 introduces data sharing plans

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O2 new plans may be of interest for tech-savy consumers

O2 new plans may be of interest for tech-savy consumers

O2 launched new plans for all pay monthly customers to share data across many devices.

On November 24, O2 announced that they are introducing two new plans dubbed “Sharer Plan” and “Family Sharer” to make sharing data between people and devices easier. Basically, these two new plans allow customers to use the same bundle on many SIM cards. The “Sharer Plan” is aimed at individuals that use multiple devices, while the “Family Sharer” plan is designed to cater for the needs of families.

The idea behind such plans came from recent research results which showed that there are over 70 million mobile devices in the UK, which means that an average Brit has 1.5 devices, while each household has 3 mobile gadgets on average. Based on that data, O2 decided to introduce a way for consumers to get one big bundle and use it across all devices.

Individuals, who wish to use one bundle in many devices, should select the “Sharer Plan”. The cost of opt in is £6 per month and it is available to any customer with at least 1GB of monthly data on O2 Refresh tariffs.  You can use one bundle on up to 10 devices, which means the lead device and 9 additional SIM cards.

The “Family Sharer” plan allows family members to get a data allowance bolt-on of between 1GB and 8GB and spread across up to 9 people.  An additional option to this plan is to get a £15 contract for each member of the family which will give unlimited call time and text messages. If you need “Family Sharer” just for data, for example for a tablet, then the cost is £6 a month.

Customers can check how much of their data allowance has been used through My O2 app and get a text notifications when they reach 80% of that and another one when it has been fully used. In such a case, they can get additional data bundles that start from £3.

In order to sign up for one of the plans you need to either visit an O2’s retail outlet or turn it on through the phone.

Written by adm

November 27th, 2014 at 9:37 am

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Talk Talk moves to O2 network

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Is O2's mobile coverage a better choice for Talk Talk?

Is O2’s mobile coverage a better choice for Talk Talk?

An unexpected decision will result in Talk Talk customers taking advantage of O2 mobile coverage

Talk Talk is a well-established telecoms provider, the second to offer quadruple play service (TV, fixed line, broadband, mobile), which offered mobile services as MVNO. Since its beginnings in 2010, the company piggybacked on Vodafone’s mobile network.  This provider doesn’t have a strong position on the mobile services market and is much more known for its fixed line and broadband services. However, Talk Talk boasts having around 350,000 mobile phone customers (both contract SIM cards and PAYG SIM cards).

Pundits were surprised to hear that Talk Talk made a decision to change their network partner from Vodafone to O2. This was unexpected as for some time the rumours said that the MVNO will be sold to Vodafone. Nevertheless, the announcement dispersed that rumour as Talk Talk enters into a “multi-year” partnership with O2 which will share its 2G, 3G and 4G network. Thanks to this Talk Talk will have better mobile coverage (at least 4G one) and will now have to look to O2 mobile coverage checker to see where they have signal.

The mobile provider wants to capitalize on the trend to offer quadruple play services and the move to O2 is in their opinion beneficial to their growth in that sector.  Obviously, Vodafone is disappointed by this turn of events. Their spokesperson said that their four-year long cooperation had been good but they understand the decision.

If you are a Talk Talk customer or think about switching over, then first you should check their current mobile coverage through our website.

Written by adm

November 20th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Scotland’s independence may result in higher phone bills

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Scotland’s independence

Scotland’s independence?

Some British operators informed that if Scotland votes for independence this week, Scots may end up paying more for telecommunication services.

The operators that penned the letter, i.e. BT, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, EE and Three UK, assured their customers that the results of the Scottish independence referendum won’t affect the continuity of the business and telecoms service will continue to be provided.  This commitment, however, doesn’t mean that the current status quo will be kept. Mobile providers expressed their concerns related to how the industry would be regulated if Scots vote “Yes” this Thursday. Such factors as mobile spectrum or EU regulatory framework were listed as potential problematic issues.

The letter looks like a short warning that if Scotland became independent, there are so many unknowns that those operators may have to modify their service. Presumably they would have to increase their PAYG and PAYM tariffs to break even. The letter signatories backed their concerns by saying that Scotland has “demanding topography and relatively low population density” and apparently this may lead to higher “industry costs”.

Nevertheless, British operators don’t want to get involved in politics and they “pledged” that they would try to do their best to keep on providing their services in independent Scotland and stay committed to their customers and employees.

The upcoming referendum may mean a lot of changes for the British society and as telecommunication services are integral part of it, they wouldn’t be unaffected. For operators, independent Scotland would be a new market to compete for and as usual in such cases the consumers should benefit the most from it.

Written by adm

September 17th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

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Results of call quality tests make EE the winner

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Ofcom inspects quality of calls

Ofcom inspects quality of calls

Ofcom announced that EE offers the best quality of calls in the UK, followed closely by O2
British telecommunications watchdog looked into the quality of service provided by mobile operators. Their study is related to a plan to improve mobile coverage in the UK. Ofcom compiled data provided by such operators as EE, O2, Three and Vodafone, as well as Rootmetrics’ findings and consumers’ opinions.
The overall result says that 76% of consumer are satisfied by call quality provided by their operators, however, people from rural and remote areas are less happy about their mobile services than urban dwellers. Deeper look into quality of calls showed that EE has the highest percentage of calls completed successfully (97%). The second best was O2 with 95.3%, which was followed by Three and Vodafone with 94.5% and 92.6% respectively. In general that shows how high the quality of service provided by British mobile operators are. But yet again there were significant differences between urban and rural areas. This shows that while the quality is exceptional in towns and cities, operators still need to work on mobile coverage in remote areas.
Consumer research conducted by Ofcom on mobile reception led to similar conclusions. Most people don’t experience any problems with mobile coverage, while around one-third said that they have troubles with mobile coverage at least once a week. That figure goes up in the countryside.
Analysed mobile operators have more than 90% 3G mobile coverage which is in line with Ofcom’s regulations. They still intend to improve it to 100% but they also promised to bring 4G mobile coverage up to the same standard. Ofcom is currently working with the Government on expanding mobile coverage in remote areas, so it seems all stakeholders are involved in providing even fuller mobile coverage in the UK.

Written by adm

August 23rd, 2014 at 10:25 pm

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Use data in Europe for £1.99 on O2

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Data roaming in EU on the cheap with O2

Data roaming in EU on the cheap with O2

If you are a pay as you go customer, O2 offers 50MB of data in the EU for £2, while contract customers will get unlimited data for one day at the same price.

O2 UK decided to update its data roaming deals and add a new cheap and simple deal both for Pay Monthly and Pay & Go tariffs. This new O2 Travel tariff costs just short of £2 and gives O2 pay as you go SIM card users 50MB of data to be used all around Europe. This is a good value-for-money service as standard EU data rate is 19c per MB, in short 50 MB would cost you five times more! In the case of Pay Monthly tariff, unlimited data in Europe costs £2 a day.

There are two things you need to remember when selecting this data roaming service. First, you need to have O2 Travel activated to be able to turn on the deal. In the case of PAYG SIM cards, you try to activate it by texting TRAVELON to 21300 or check it by calling customer service on 4445. Contract customers can check it on MYO2 or call customer services; however, some contracts cannot use O2 Travel. Second, in both situations, PAYG and PAYM, the deal lasts from 00.00 to 23.59 UK time, so don’t turn it on just before midnight. This also means that if you use pay as you go SIM card then try to use your allowance before midnight as otherwise you will lose it.

The idea behind the £2 O2 Travel roaming deal came after the operator conducted a research that showed that a vast majority of travellers leave their phones at a hotel when going sightseeing. Simultaneously the same group of people admitted that they feel that they lack source of information about food establishments or directions. The O2 deal is supposed to provide solution to these issues as each data roaming can give even PAYG SIM card users a confidence that they can use their smartphones abroad and not worry about exuberant costs.

Nina Bibby, Marketing and Consumer Director at O2 said: “People use their mobiles as a source of information on a daily basis; we believe it should be no different when they are on holiday. By giving our customers access to all the data they need for just £1.99 a day when they are in Europe, we are offering them a worry free way to get the most out of their smartphones, whether it’s looking for a great place to eat, or navigating the streets of an unfamiliar city.”

Written by adm

July 24th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Irish market consolidates as Three buys out O2 Ireland

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Irish market consolidates as Three buys out O2 Ireland

We hope that big sums scare them off

After long talks Three finally acquired O2’s business in Ireland and became second biggest operator in the country.

Few days ago Three Ireland proudly announced that their acquisition of O2 Ireland has finally been concluded. The £675 million acquisition was on hold until the European Commission approved it. This move made Three Ireland almost the largest mobile provider on the island.

However, the deal didn’t go as smoothly as expected. Irish telecommunications watchdog, ComReg, complained that the buyout will reduce the number of major operators to three and this may reflect on customers as less competition means higher rates. Vodafone, the largest operator in Ireland, also expressed its concerns about additional spectrum that Three will have and comment on the acquisition by saying that it may badly influence competition on the market.

The new joint venture will have 37% of the market share, while the biggest operator, Vodafone, has just three percent more. Right now the plan for Three Ireland is to become market leader and they hope to achieve it soon.

‘We will now get down to the task of combining the strengths and talents of the two businesses to create a major force in the Irish mobile market, which will be good for competition, good for consumers and good for Ireland’ said Three CEO Robert Finnegan.

Written by adm

July 17th, 2014 at 9:40 pm

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Most customer-friendly operator

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Most customer-friendly operator

Ofcom reveals latest phone complaints study

After more than 3 years of dominance O2 was dethroned by Three UK as the 3G operator became the least complained about operator in Q1 2014. Most customer-friendly operator

The research conducted by Ofcom checks which operator receives the most and the least complaints from let-down customers. For very long O2 could boast having the title of least complaint about operator in the UK, however, for the first time ever Three UK has overtaken O2.  The 3G operator scored 0.04 complaints per 1,000 customers and it’s their best result so far.

If you look into the past we can see that in the span of two years, Three UK improved its customer service greatly as their result from 2012 was almost 0.20. However, there is a general trend in the industry to provide better services and treat customers respectfully so that they are satisfied. The industry average lowered from 0.14 to 0.06 in just 24 months.

The last place in the ranking for some time has been occupied by EE with 0.12 complaints per 1,000 customers. Ofcom explains that those unsatisfied customers usually had problems with changing provider, billing and how their issues were handled. Obviously, the high score of EE may be attributed to the fact that Ofcom counts together complaints related to T-Mobile, Orange and 4GEE.

Written by adm

July 1st, 2014 at 9:09 am

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