Those of you that have less of an interest in the world of mobile networks may not know that two of the leading providers are in fact owned by the same company: since the official merger of T-Mobile and Orange back in April to create the ambiguously named “Everything Everywhere” joint venture they have been operating under the same commercial banner.
However most people, even those who use the operators, will not have noticed any difference as they have still both been using their own separate branding, but today’s announcement is the first “major consumer benefit” to the happenings of 5 months ago: network sharing.
All 30 million (a number equivalent to just under half the population of the UK) of Orange and T-Mobile customers will today have been invited to sign up for the service which is being offered to all customers including pay-as-you-go, business and pay-monthly users free of charge.
As of October any customer that has registered on either network will automatically pick up signal from the other network (assuming that it is available) if they lose signal on the one they are with, which will have no effect on any existing tariffs or call charges.
This is really the first step in a line of improvements that will hopefully provide a better service for customers on both networks, which will soon include automatic switching to whichever network has the strongest signal at that moment in time whilst in a call, and also to include internet coverage and enhanced data.
Anyone who wishes to sign up to the service should visit their respective provider’s website to register their interest, as it will probably be worth the effort as there is no real downside to this improvement.
As Ceri Stanaway of Which? said “Mobile sharing will strengthen and broaden the area that the merged company is able to serve, and could make a big difference to Orange and T-Mobile customers who suffer from poor or patchy network coverage.
Bear in mind though that even the merged network won’t cover 100% of the UK, and Orange and T-Mobile users in remote areas may still struggle to get a signal no matter which network they use.
When the two companies merged, Orange and T-Mobile also promised that the merger would let them offer their customers “the very best service”. Both networks were below average for overall customer satisfaction in the latest Which? mobile network satisfaction survey, so we look forward to seeing if they live up to expectations when we repeat our survey next year.”
And both Orange and T-Mobile have a lot of improvements to be made if the survey mentioned is anything to go by: both Virgin Media and Tesco Mobile beat them for best providers (which is impressive seeing as both of them use virtual networks) with T-Mobile coming rock bottom of the pay-as-you-go providers despite being one of the ‘big four’ of Orange, O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
So good news for both Orange and T-Mobile customers, in terms of potential signal coverage at least, and fingers crossed for their sake that the improvements continue into the future! Will you be signing up to test out this improved coverage? If so, be sure to let us know whether you think it’s an improvement or not!
Via — Which?