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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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New HTC Desire Eye only at Three UK

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Are you interested in the newest HTC phone?

Are you interested in the newest HTC phone?

Three UK has secured an exclusive right to distribute state-of-the-art HTC Desire Eye smartphone.

Come November, Three will start offering the newest HTC masterpiece as the sole distributor in the UK. The talked-about phone is HTC Desire Eye which is a duo-camera monster. HTC wants to cater for the needs of the newest generation which is snapping photos like crazy. That is why the Taiwan manufacturer equipped the phone with two 13 megapixel cameras, so that not only can you take a high resolution photo of the surroundings, but also make a perfect selfie. HTC sees this camera as something much more than the most impressive selfie snapper, as it is also suitable for video chatting which turns out to be a trend among young adults nowadays.

Desire Eye will obviously be the flagship of the Desire line. In terms of specifications it is not the most powerful device on the market but it houses a 2.3 GHz Snapdragon chip which makes it a solid smartphone. The screen is 5.2” which is bigger than HTC One. Interestingly, the phone is water-resistant up to 1m for about 30 minutes – this is great considering that they achieved it without any ugly flaps.

Head of devices at Three UK Sylvia Chind commented on this announcement saying “We are delighted that Three is the exclusive operator partner for the HTC Desire Eye in the UK. The new Re camera opens up a new world of creative opportunity and by utilising the many editing and upload features, our customers can share their videos and photos effortlessly across our reliable network.”

There has been no announcement about the pricing of the phone, so as soon as more details emerge we will inform you.

Written by adm

October 16th, 2014 at 2:57 pm

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Three UK fined £250k for poor customer service

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Ofcom fights bad customer service

Ofcom fights bad customer service

Ofcom decided to punish Three UK for not complying with rules on handling complaints.

The British telecoms watchdog launched a monitoring and enforcement programme some time ago. Ofcom’s initiative’s goal is to watch over how customer complaints are being dealt by operators. Recently, we have learned that they had their first success after investigating Three UK.

The regulator found some issues in Three’s complaint handling processes. As it turned out some complaints weren’t resolved in a fair and timely manner. The main offence was that some customer cases were closed even though they weren’t properly dealt with. Other problems involved situations when customer calls were not registered in the system and as a result they weren’t treated according to the operator’s complaint handling process.  Ofcom was also dissatisfied that Three’s customers weren’t aware that they could try to fight for their rights through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Three UK is obliged by the law to inform their customers that such scheme as ADR exists. Alternative dispute resolution is part of consumer protection policy and it is a free-of-charge method of referring a complaint that couldn’t be resolved to an independent body that could give an objective ruling.

Ofcom decided to fine Three UK £250,000 for non-compliance with approved Code of Practice for complaints handling. The watchdog also acknowledges that Three UK ensured that its complaint handling process will be in line with the legal requirements.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, commented on this situation saying “When things go wrong, customers are not only entitled to complain to their provider, but must have confidence that their complaint will be dealt with fairly.That’s why we impose strict rules on providers on how they must handle complaints.We treat any failure to follow these rules very seriously”.

Written by adm

October 14th, 2014 at 12:21 pm

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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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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Three UK turns on free roaming in 5 new countries

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Three UK extends it free roaming deal

Three UK extends its free roaming deal

Three UK announced adding five new countries to their Feel At Home deal which enables using UK allowances when abroad (free roaming).

Feel At Home is Three UK’s offer for travellers that want to save money on mobile costs when staying abroad. Essentially, the deal, launched in August last year, allows Three’s customers to use their allowances when they are in eligible countries. The allowance can be used to use data or call and text British numbers. Feel At Home is free of charge and it switches on when you enter one of the selected destinations. The offer is available to all types of customers but if you have a Three PAYG SIM card than you have to remember to convert your credit to some Add-ons in order to take advantage of Feel At Home.  All this means that Three UK has almost effectively turned off roaming charges in 16 countries.

Initially, Three UK kicked off Feel At Home with seven destinations: Australia, Denmark, Austria, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy and Sweden. In December 2013, there were four other countries added: Indonesia, Macau, Sri Lanka and the USA. Now on July, 1 2014 we will see five other places included in the deal: Finland, France, Israel, Switzerland and Norway. This brings it to total of 16 destinations where your normal allowance will be used.

There are however few restrictions concerning Feel At Home. First of all, tethering is forbidden and if you have All-you-can-eat tariffs than you may not use more than 25GB, send 5,000 texts or call longer than 3,000 minutes. I doubt that such restriction should make anybody feel uncomfortable. Additionally, Three UK proposes this deal only to people who are on holiday or on business trip abroad, so if you plan to stay in one of the countries for longer you might be cut off from using your allowance abroad. Secondly, pay as you go SIM card owners have to remember to get some add-ons and remember to replenish them when they are out of allowance. However, you can always buy add-ons through My3 app. Thirdly, you cannot call numbers that start with 070, 09 or 118.

All in all, we see a positive move of operators such as Three UK that reduce roaming costs not only in Europe (to comply with EU laws) but also all around the world in popular destinations. Moreover, it is also nice that such deals are introduced also for PAYG SIM cards.

Written by adm

June 10th, 2014 at 11:26 am

Vodafone boasts the most loyal customers

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Vodafone leads in customer loyalty research

Vodafone leads in customer loyalty research

Survey shows that Vodafone customers are the most loyal ones out of all main operators, while Three UK found itself at the bottom.

A price comparison website ran a survey that collected answers of more than 2,000 respondents about their loyalty and attachment to mobile providers.  The results indicated that Vodafone is the most loved operator and customers tend to stick with it once they start using their services, as on average they spend more than 6 years at Vodafone. On the other side of the ranking was Three UK where an average customer decides to switch after 15 months.  The second place was taken by Orange and T-Mobile (so EE now) with an average of almost 5 years per customer, while the third spot in the ranking was taken by O2 with a result of just over 3 years. When asked about the reason of opting for Vodafone’s services, a lot of the customers said that the mobile coverage (41%) and word-of-mouth promotion (28%) were the main reasons behind it. Customers who responded to this survey also admitted that they stayed for so long with Vodafone because of good mobile coverage (78%), swift customer care (71%) and affordable prices (67%). Majority of Vodafone’s customers also expressed their willingness to stay with the operator after their contract is over.

It’s hard to say how much this survey reflect the general attitude towards mobile operators as the sample group was relatively low and homogenous (they were all users of one price comparison site), but it may suggest some positive trends in Vodafone.

Written by adm

April 9th, 2014 at 11:43 am

Posted in mobile coverage

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Insure your phone at Three UK

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Three UK launched a comprehensive mobile insurance service

RootMetrics checks the Three UK launched a comprehensive mobile insurance service

Three UK Rescue is brought to customers in cooperation with Asurion. The idea is to provide extensive insurance policy that would meet all possible needs of Three’s customers. You could insure your phone against pet damage or flushing a phone in the toilet, as well as lending to friends and family. You can have your phone replaced internationally for 20 pounds extra.  While domestic replacement should happen next day with the same model delivered(as long as the claim is not accepted during the weekend).

Three Rescue is also an application to increase customer protection. The app can back up your data, track your lost phone online, remotely set off a sound alarm if you lost your phone or even completely wipe the content of your phone.

Monthly premium can cost from as little as £2 for the most basic phone to £10 for state-of-the-art devices like iPhone 5s or Samsung Galaxy S4.

Margie Waltasaari from Three UK said ‘Mobile phone insurance has a poor reputation due to slow processes, widespread cover exemptions and low service levels. We believe Three Rescue will address that through a combination of great service and the extra steps we take to help our customers to get their mobile lives back.’

Written by adm

April 1st, 2014 at 10:56 am

Fight spam messages

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Fight spam - Operators launch a crackdown on spam texts

Operators launch a crackdown on spam texts

Main mobile providers decided to work together in order to get rid of spam text messages.

Fight spam. EE, O2, Three and Vodafone in collaboration with GSMA launched a new ‘spam reporting service’ in hope to begin a crackdown on spam messaging.  The service will be operated by GSMA, an umbrella organization for mobile operators, and customers will be able to report any nuisance text messages. To do so, they will have to forward the spam message to a free number ‘7726’. The system has been working for long time but now operators want to work in unison and aggregating data from major operators will help pin point perpetrators and punish them financially.

According to estimates, there were roughly 516 million spam text messages received in the UK just in the second half of last year, while in February 2014 alone this amount amassed to 99 million unsolicited texts. The expectations are that as the operators start sharing data it will be easier to find spammers and disconnected them more quickly.

Operators that want to stop at this to fight spam. They have already been talks with government’s Information Commissioner’s Office to setup a similar service to stamp out even a bigger issue which are unsolicited phone calls.

GSMA CEO John Hoffman said: “Increasing numbers of consumers are victims of spam and mobile network operators are working hard defending against these threats. The GSMA Spam Reporting Service provides operators with a tool to measure the extent of fraud and phishing and provides the insight needed to address sophisticated messaging threats that could harm users.”

Written by adm

April 1st, 2014 at 10:54 am

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