Posts

What Will the Telecoms Market Look Like in 2015

So we are just over one month into 2015 and it is already looking like it will be an interesting year in the telecoms market. Apple have managed to start two more law cases so no change there. They have also announced record profits. The CEO of Blackberry has demanded developers should be made to produce apps for his devices. Bit of a Stalinist approach to the market – you will build them even if no one wants them. This from a company that would never let anyone near their software – chickens coming home to roost.

Then it looks like all change in the UK mobile market with BT buying EE and O2 merging / being bought by 3. So what will this mean to consumers and businesses over the rest of the forthcoming year. It does always assume that Ofcom will allow there to be only three mobile operators in the UK when they have publicly stated they want four. An interesting challenge for the new head to find in her already bulging in-tray. I think she will allow it given the number of MVNOs that now exist who will be classed as quasi operators. After all you can pick up a mobile contract with your weekly shop in Tesco’s who often offer very cheap sim free phones with clubcard points thrown in.

It was all started by BT wanting to join the quad players (phone, broadband, mobile and TV) in the residential market. Following the launch of BT Sport they were just missing the mobile element having got rid of O2 many years ago. Having decided they didn’t want them back and EE were a better bet, they would be in a position to compete with Virgin. Sky have quickly responded with an announcement that it will launch a mobile service next – surprise surprise in conjunction with O2.

That leaves a few companies sitting on the edges of the dance floor looking at who’s left to partner up with before the evening is over. Most notably TalkTalk and Vodafone is that the next marriage made in heaven or would it be out of necessity?

That potentially would create four companies targeting the quad play domestic market in what is a price sensitive market and probably in a race to the bottom. The domestic broadband market is evidence of that where prices and one could argue service/product quality has fallen dramatically.

With all this focus on the domestic market both in terms of time and resources will the business consumer suffer. For the suppliers which will be the most lucrative to focus on – that will determine their priorities. For some businesses the potential of a single supplier may be attractive whilst others on principle do not like all their eggs in one basket. It should be noted that integration will take some time and businesses anticipating a single contact point for faults will be disappointed. BT do not offer it yet so expecting them to merge EE’s support into their existing centres quickly is being a tad optimistic.

Also of interest will be how the cultures and approaches of the combined companies in the various merging will work out. For example 3 have been ahead of the market in extending the mobile packages to overseas countries without charge. I am sure some companies with large roaming bills would welcome this change as the business providers continue to make large portions of their profits in this area.

Certainly I think businesses should be wary of making long term commitments until the dust has settled and they know what and more importantly who they are signing up with. The company they sign with may look very different by the end of the year.

Should You Pay for Customer Service

Yesterday EE announced that if you want to jump the inevitable queues in their customer service you can do so but it will cost you 50p http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28790807

This to me is wrong on so many levels. Firstly it says they cannot be bothered to just have enough staff to deal with the enquiries they are getting and provide a reasonable level of service to everyone.

Secondly it suggests that they have many issues with processes, billing, faults etc that they have not fixed that are generating the calls in the first place. Again rather than address the cause they will make customers pay for something that is not their fault.

Finally it is creating a two tier service between those that can pay and those that can’t. Whilst I would want to draw too many parallels with the NHS and private health care as at least in that case people have a choice in how they spend their disposal income. What EE have done is introduce something that was not in their contract at the beginning and until that contract ends they cannot move to another provider that treats all customers equally.

What would happen if everyone in the queue opted to pay the 50p then they would all stay where they are, maybe then they would introduce a super premium service

That is to say I don’t have a problem with companies that often different tier products eg the various coloured American Express cards that come with different costs and different features bit.ly/1sWJXzT

What do other people think – is paying for basic customer acceptable?