Carphone Warehouse and Google this week unveiled separate plans to launch mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), yet despite the fanfare that greeted Google's Project Fi some analysts have hailed Carphone's iD as the more interesting MVNO story.
"Realise Google Fi is a big MVNO story but @DixonsCarphone new MVNO is much more interesting. Value 4G & no roaming," tweeted CCS Insight analyst Shaun Collins.
Collins is referring to the fact that UK-based Carphone Warehouse is planning a competitive offer that will include 4G data speeds, free voice, text and data roaming and contract flexibility including 12-month plans. The iD MVNO will use the Three UK network.
Carphone claims that iD's roaming plans will cover more countries than any other UK mobile operator, including 20 markets in Europe as well as Australia and the U.S. Three UK provides free roaming under its Feel At Home plan in 18 markets worldwide, of which 10 are in Europe.
The retailer said its goal is to address consumer frustrations with current mobile phone plans.
"People want greater flexibility from their plans and are fed up with the 'one size fits all' approach. In fact, a recent study by Which? found that overspend on mobile phone charges in the UK amounts to £5.42 billion (€7.5 billion/$8.2 billion) each year--showing just how many people aren't on the right plan for them," said Graham Stapleton, UK CEO at Carphone Warehouse, which is part of the Dixons Carphone group.
The iD plans will go on sale in May. The first offer will centre on the Samsung A3, available for a limited time on a 12-month 4G plan with 300 minutes, 5,000 texts and 1 GB data for £19.50.
"This is just the beginning. We know that there are lots more customer issues and frustrations with existing mobile plans that we're eager to tackle. We want this network to be focused on the individual and we will continue to listen to customers over the coming months, asking them to help develop and evolve iD," added Stapleton
iD will certainly need to stand out from the crowd in what is a highly competitive mobile market. Network partner Three UK already offers extremely competitive 4G data plans under its SIM-only deals, for example. In addition, BT has just re-entered the mobile market as an MVNO, and is in the process of buying mobile network operator EE. Three UK parent Hutchison Whampoa has also agreed to buy O2 UK from Telefónica.
It's also not the first time that Carphone Warehouse has entered the MVNO market: the company launched talkmobile on the Vodafone UK network in 2007.
When Carphone first unveiled its MVNO agreement with Three UK in February, a spokesman for the retailer said the move "will see Vodafone take full control of Carphone's talkmobile network."
Meanwhile in a separate release this week, Dixons Carphone confirmed it has agreed to sell a majority 83 per cent stake in The Phone House Netherlands to Relevant Holdings BV, a company set up by the shareholders of Optie1. The move follows the sale last week of The Phone House Deutschland GmbH to Drillisch AG.
The sales form part of a European review launched by Dixons Carphone following the merger of the two UK retailers.
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