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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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EE plans to invest £1.5bn in 4G mobile coverage expansion

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EE reveals a 3-year long plan  that leads to 99% mobile coverage

EE reveals a 3-year long plan that leads to 99% mobile coverage

EE CEO Olaf Swantee announced that his company plans to spend £1.5bn on their network modernization until 2017 in order to extend their mobile coverage.

The 4G operator impressed everyone by announcing a considerable investment package which goal is to bring 4G mobile coverage to everyone in the UK. This plan is part of a bigger strategy known as “Signalling the Future” which main purpose is to face the challenges of digital needs in the UK by greatly increasing mobile coverage especially in rural areas. The £1.5bn investment spread over next three years has two main goals: providing 4G mobile coverage to 99% of the population and covering 90% of the UK territory.

In order to reach the expected results EE will focus on implementing Micro Network technology in the countryside, using low frequency spectrum in that areas and introducing WiFi Calling and 4G Voice. In terms of the first point, EE wants to roll out small devices that can be mounted on buildings and will support current mast network. The projected effect of deploying Micro Network is mobile coverage in around 1,500 communities that do not have reliable and fast broadband. The second concept involves using 800Mhz spectrum in rural areas as it covers large distances and is ideal for 4G. Moreover, this low frequency spectrum will allow EE to provide mobile coverage in current black spots without significant expansion of the infrastructure. Finally, the 4G operator wants to allow customers to use 4G network to carry voice traffic (currently it is only used for data) and launch a service that enables making phone calls when there is a Wi-Fi connection in range, even if there is no mobile coverage.

These bold plans are put into motion as EE wants to secure its position of the largest 4G network and build solid foundations for the technologies of the future like 5G.

Written by adm

March 3rd, 2015 at 9:39 pm

T-Mobile and Orange stopped signing up new customers

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T-Mobile and Orange It's the end of five main operator brands. Who knows how many will stay by the end of the year?

It’s the end of five main operator brands. Who knows how many will stay by the end of the year?

EE announced that as of February 2, 2015, it stops selling Orange and T-Mobile plans and it won’t produce anymore PAYG SIM cards of these two brands.

It was believed that as a result of the deal with BT, EE will have to scrap their old brands, T-Mobile and Orange, by the time the operator is sold. Shortly after official announcement about the takeover, EE informed customers that their legacy brands are being phased out.

What it means is that since February 2 customers have not been able to get a monthly plan from direct sales channels like EE shops, while indirect channels offer T-Mobile and Orange contracts till the beginning of March. In terms of PAYG SIM cards, the published information says that EE has already stopped issuing new pay as you go SIM cards and all of these available in shops will become obsolete if not activated within a year. It is the last call if you want to become customer of any of the brands.

There are about 19 million customers in T-Mobile and Orange and the change will also affect them. They don’t need to sign a new contract straight away, but when the current one expires there will be no possibility to prolong it. EE has been actively promoting their 4G brand among that 19 million customers and it is said that already most of them are receiving exclusive deals to transfer their mobile services to EE. If you are a T-Mobile or Orange PAYG SIM card customer then it seems that EE will not force you to change the network but it hopes that the switchover will happen naturally as current T-Mobile and Orange pay as you go tariffs will not be updated so customers will eventually move to a network with better rates. It is still unknown how EE will try to attract their legacy brands’ PAYG SIM card customers to their 4G network.

EE explains the introduction of this idea by quoting their newest data which says that more than 90% of their new and upgrading customers choose EE over T-Mobile or Orange. As a result it won’t cause an upheaval if the brands are phased out as customers naturally go to EE. The 4G operator hopes to convert all T-Mobile and Orange customers to their 4G brand in the upcoming future and as so many people choose EE vast majority of customers will not feel forced to choose the new brand over the legacy ones. However, it is clear that EE did not expect such turn of events as last May its CEO stated that the T-Mobile and Orange brands “will stay for years” before finally phased out.

Written by adm

February 17th, 2015 at 10:05 am

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EE is to be bought for £12.5bn by BT

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BT is destined to become the largest operator in the UK

BT is destined to become the largest operator in the UK

After less than 60 days of negotiations BT informed that it will take over EE for 12.5 billion pounds.

In the middle of December, BT announced that it is in serious talks with EE over acquiring it. British telecommunications giant wanted to use EE’s customer base and network with the largest mobile coverage to enter the mobile phone market and as a result become a major player on the quad play market. Now, the operator assured that the negotiation period is over and the sale is going to be completed in March 2016.

The deal itself is a combination of shares and cash in the total value of £12.5bn. Deutsche Telekom and Orange, current owners of EE, will get 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively. Orange will additionally get £3.4bn in cash. The prices may seem to be overwhelming at first but if you consider what kind of potential is behind EE, you may see that BT got a fair deal.

The news means that BT will become the largest telecommunications company in the UK that will have both the largest broadband network and the best and the most advanced mobile coverage. Obviously, that was positively reflected on BT’s share price as it rose by 4.5%, proving that BT’s return to the mobile market. Gavin Patterson, the CEO of BT, called this deal a milestone that would help accelerate sales and create leading world-class digital infrastructure for Britain.

Some customers see this as a potentially dangerous situation as consolidation may hurt them because competition will lessen. Patterson reassured that if there are to be any changes for the customers they will be only positive. To his mind, consumers will be able to get a full package of telecommunications service at a better price, because quad play can offer price reduction as consumer buy services as a bundle.  Nevertheless, before the deal is finalized the operators need to get an approval from UK Competition and Markets Authority which looks over the market and keeps the market fairly competitive.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, commented on the news saying that he is excited by this deal and sees it as an opportunity for the UK to be the leader in mobile technologies. This will have great consequences for the market and we hope to see technological development as a result of the consolidation of the market.

Written by adm

February 10th, 2015 at 3:31 pm

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Enraged customer to pay £1200 for emojis

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Sad  face emojii best describes Mrs Cochrane's situation

Sad face emojii best describes Mrs Cochrane’s situation

Some phones may cause your emojis to be send as MMSs as one customer found after getting a £1200 bill from EE.  

Paula Cochrane of Airdrie in Scotland was shocked to learn that sending smiley faces may lead to exorbitant mobile phone bill. She signed a two-year deal with EE in September last year and got a new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Her contract was £30.99 a month but her first bill amounted to little over £100.

She was worried but thought it’s due to her using the new smartphone more often. Nevertheless, she tried to sort it out in December and was horrified to learn that her next bill will cost her £449. EE customer service informed her that it was due to a vast amount of picture messages that she was supposedly sending. Paula didn’t feel guilty and felt that she is being scammed. It turned out that her Samsung Galaxy sent all emojis in her texts messages like they were additional MMSs.  Currently, Mrs Cochrane owes EE around £1200 for the period between September and February this year. She sees that the whole situation is “daylight robbery” and doesn’t want to foot the bill.

The lesson learned here is that if you are an owner of some older smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4 as well as Galaxy Note or Ace then watch out as they may treat emojis as picture messages.  Other phone producer didn’t report this kind of issues with their phones. All Samsung users should either refrain from sending icons, emoticons or symbols or change the settings of the messaging app. In order to avoid being in situation like Mrs Cochrane you should go to Input Mode which is a feature of text messages section of phone settings and select “UniCode” instead of “automatic”. Alternatively you may choose to use one of the texting apps available for smartphones like for example, WhatsApp or simple Facebook Chat. As a result you will not be charged for picture messages but instead use your data allowance.

Written by adm

February 10th, 2015 at 3:26 pm

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EE’s network downtime caused customer outrage

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EE customers learned that network reliability is as important as mobile coverage. network downtime

EE customers learned that network reliability is as important as mobile coverage

Data centre breakdown left thousands of EE customers without connection last Thursday morning.

Last Thursday (Jan 22), many people that use EE SIM cards found themselves in a rather peculiar situation. Even though they should have mobile signal as they were within EE’s mobile coverage, it turned out that they can’t make calls, send texts or surf the Internet. Puzzled customers quickly went online and questioned EE via Twitter. The mobile provider quickly responded saying that from around 8 till roughly 9:30 am they had experienced some issues with their data centre in Luton, which made anyone that was routed through it to have problems with connection or mobile coverage. EE reported that all the users should have been okay by 10 am and if somebody can’t get a signal while within the mobile coverage, they should switch to the Airplane Mode for a second to restore the connection.

network downtime

Followers of social media registered that during the downtime, there were up to three times as many mentions of EE than usual but it went back to the usual number soon after the data centre in Luton was fixed. After a closer look at Twitter, we may see that some customers were experiencing connection problems throughout the whole Thursday, and there were even some posts like that on Friday, but it is not clear whether they had anything to do with the Luton event.

Events like that show that even though British network and 4G mobile coverage are constantly being developed, there are situations when a small issue in one data centre may affect thousands around the country. Obviously, downtime and system failures cannot be prevented in all the cases but mobile operators should remember that expanding mobile coverage is not all and the reliability of the network is as much important.

Written by adm

January 30th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

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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EE proposes innovative solution to extend mobile coverage

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Soon communities will have mobile coverage without such huge masts in the neighbourhood.

Soon communities will have mobile coverage without such huge masts in the neighbourhood.

New technologies allow EE to promise 3G and 4G mobile coverage in 1,500 black spot communities

The largest British mobile operator, EE, has announced today that it will use micro networks to bring mobile coverage to around 1,500 rural communities that previously had none.  This is possible thanks to a new technology that do not require large masts or miles of cable in order to provide mobile coverage.  The new approach uses new micro networks that connect smaller mobile antennas to an appropriate nearby large mast. As a result, the cost of infrastructure is dramatically lowered and the operator can provide mobile coverage to remote locations in a viable way.

From the beginning of next year, EE plans to roll out micro networks that would provide voice and data mobile coverage for both 3G and 4G technology. The promise made today plans to implement 1,500 micro networks by 2017 in areas with non-existent or unreliable mobile coverage. EE has already started the project with the first community being connected today. The trials started in the village of Sebergham, in Cumbria, were less than 350 people live. County officials expressed their gratitude for involving their region first as people from the countryside down there will benefit from having a reliable mobile coverage. EE is now analysing other areas to check where deployment of micro networks is feasible.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said:  “We’ve been working closely with Government on the long-term ambition to bring voice coverage to more of the UK, and we believe that this world-first technology will demonstrate significant advancements against that vision.”

Written by adm

December 2nd, 2014 at 11:08 am

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EE grown to become the biggest 4G provider in Europe

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EE continues to develop at an amazing speed.

EE continues to develop at an amazing speed.

5.6 million customers was enough for EE to be named the largest 4G mobile operator in this part of the world.

British joint-operation of two multinational mobile operators, EE has amassed enough customers to be the biggest 4G network in the Old World. This fact surfaced as the provider disclosed its Q3 report in which they admitted to adding 1.4 million 4G customers in the last three months. As a result, the total number of both 4G PAYG SIM cards and post-paid ones at EE is 5.6 million, making the operator the largest 4G network in Europe. This is unprecedented growth as their 4G customer base increased fourfold during one year.

EE’s Q3 results also showed that it gained a significant amount of contract customers, while their PAYG SIM card customer base shrank by 11% year-on-year. Additionally, EE boasts having signed up another 700 corporate customers that use 4G. The trends also show that more than 80% of new customers choose a 4G tariff.  It is definitely to a large extent due to EE’s mobile coverage that now reaches to more than 48 million people that live in 281 towns and cities and more than 2,500 villages and small towns.

Even though EE has been growing its customer base, the financial results are rather stagnant. The operating revenue did not change a lot year on year as it went down by 1.2% from 1.54 billion pounds to 1.52. However, if we don’t take into consideration regulatory costs, their revenue was stable at 0% year-on-year.

The company wants to build on current results and see their future in revenues from data and providing customers with new double speed 4G. Additionally, they want to expand their range of services, for example, by adding EE TV, which is a TV smart box for freeview channels and on-demand video.

Written by adm

November 6th, 2014 at 9:05 pm

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Free data for Christmas for new EE PAYG SIM cards

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Did Santa make you move to EE? Free data

Did Santa make you move to EE?

EE is giving out free 100MB of monthly data allowance to all new pay as you go customers who register before Christmas.

The Halloween is not yet over but we are starting to see first Christmas offers popping out here and there. The first mobile operator to jump the gun on Christmas deals is EE. Their new promotion is aimed at new customers who choose PAYG SIM cards. The Christmas deal includes affordable smartphones and tablets paired with a free monthly allowance of 100MB of data.

In terms of PAYG smartphones, EE offers quite a nice bargain on Nokia Lumias 635 as they are sold at £99. It is an attractive price for a phone that supports 4G speeds. But the 4G operator doesn’t forget about tablet-users as it prepared a good deal for 4G tablet as well. The slate on offer is Alcatel ONETOUCH POP 7S, which is a moderate device in terms of technical specifications but at this price it’s an entry-level device that may be one of the cheapest on the market so far.

The second part of the Christmas offer is a monthly allowance of free 100 MB of data to new PAYG SIM card phones and SIM-only customers. In order to be eligible to receive it, you need to top up your account by as little as £5 not later than on January 4, 2015. In terms of tablets, the SIM card needs to be registered online and this will have to be done by February 6, 2015. From then on, every 30 days you will receive 100MB of data as long as your PAYG SIM cards are active. EE hasn’t declared how many times you will get this allowance, but we might safely assume that it will be on to the end of 2015.

In order to qualify for this deal you need to move to EE and get a PAYG phone/tablet deal or just a PAYG SIM card by December 28, 2014 for phones and January 31, 2015 for tablets.

The biggest 4G operator in the UK definitely brought an interesting Christmas gift for mobile fans. Obviously, one may say that 100MB is not much especially considering 4G speeds. But to put it into perspective with 100MB you could browse the Internet for 4 hours, send 2000 WhatsApp messages or download 20 tracks. No the worst present PAYG SIM card customers could have got.

Written by adm

October 29th, 2014 at 9:57 pm

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