My favourite week in the mobile industry trade fair calendar is rapidly approaching. Yes, I am talking about Mobile World Congress in Barcelona--the show that has ballooned from a modest event in Cannes to a rather bloated celebration of anything that has the remotest connection to mobile or wireless technology (including smart toothbrushes with Bluetooth for optimal brushing!).
France has been a highly interesting market to watch since January 2012, when enfant terrible Free Mobile launched its low-cost mobile plans and changed competition on the mobile market forever. Since then we have seen the emergence of new brands such as Sosh and a price war that continues to have repercussions for all market players.
Three UK remains alone in defending a mobile-only strategy, continuing to question the appetite of UK consumers for so-called quadruple-play services. While some believe that mobile-only is no longer a viable approach and see converged offerings of fixed and mobile services as the way forward, it must not be forgotten that a merger of Three and O2 would create the UK's largest mobile operator by subscribers (31.5 million).
Quad-play or multi-play strategies got another airing this week, as one operator hailed its success in bundling fixed, mobile and TV services together and another raised doubts again over the appetite that consumers are likely to have for such service bundles.
If BT succeeds in its bid to acquire EE, one thing it won't be doing is bringing the Orange and T-Mobile brands back to life in the UK: according to the Financial Times, BT has no interest in rekindling the two former brands as it intends to focus on driving 4G data services, for which EE is of course famous.
The Spice Girls may have waxed lyrical about two becoming one, but in Europe's mobile market many operators would be happy if four just became three. Indeed, the buzz around consolidation refuses to die down as we move further into 2015, and operators continue to believe that consolidation is necessary for their future survival.
The issue of coverage versus signal quality was addressed this week by the CEO of Vodafone UK, Jeroen Hoencamp. Perhaps he was attempting to allay any potential concerns that Vodafone is still well behind EE in terms of LTE network coverage, but he made some valid points over the value of consistency when 4G services are actually available.
I'm not sure which new year's resolutions might apply to telecoms companies, but further meditation on how they can stop making their customers angry all the time by living up to their promises is probably no bad way to start.
With a Dutch CEO, and French and German parents, EE today has a more European than British flavour. That could all change if BT acquires the UK operator: the former UK incumbent entered into exclusive negotiations with EE shareholders Orange and Deutsche Telekom on Monday.