We've news today that British 'phone retailer, Carphone Warehouse, has confirmed it will be launching its own operator service next month, May 2015, called iD. iD will piggyback on Three's network and appears set to differentiate itself from rivals by offering plans based around what customers want, which includes avoiding nasty bill shocks, greater flexibility regarding managing usage and cheaper, cleaner costs when using your phone in other European countries. Many of Three's plans provide customers with their "at home" data roaming bundle, which allows customers to access their Internet data with no roaming costs as though they were at home. It's possible that iD will include a similar package, which could give very low cost or even effectively free data roaming in twenty two countries (these being Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United States of America). Unfortunately, iD are being quiet as to the exact structure of the plans they will be offering customers other than there will be thirty day rolling plans together with twelve months contracts, which appear to be structured as "SIM only" plans, in other words the customer brings his or her own device and iD simply provide the service.
iD's website also states that the carrier's plans are based around what the customer needs and are to be as flexible as necessary. We'll have to wait for further details to determine what this means. The site explains that iD will be using the Three network and once iD is up and running, customers will benefit from 98% coverage of the British population with what the carrier calls the UK's "fastest 3G network". Three are also rolling out their own 4G LTE network but compared with the other UK carriers, they're still lagging behind. At this juncture, it is also unclear how the deal between Three and O2 will influence the network iD customers may use. We understand that Three and O2 are to combine their networks, similar to the way that Orange and T-Mobile customers were able to roam onto the other partner's network following their merger a number of years ago.
Something else we are unclear about is how iD is to be sold. Presumably it will be offered across Carphone Warehouse's high street stores and online, but it's unclear if it will be made available for other retailers. The timing of another MVNO, Mobile Virtual Network Operator, comes when the UK is seeing several changes in addition to the merger of the Three and O2 businesses. BT, British Telecom, is in the process of launching its own network and buying EE (the owner of the EE, Orange and T-Mobile brands). Another competitor should be good news for the market.