back to article T-Mobile picks Orange for merger

T-Mobile and Orange are merging their UK operations to create the largest operator in the UK, with ownership split between France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom. The companies reckon that by merging the networks they can save €4bn running a new operation owned 50:50 by the current parents. That new operation will be the UK's …


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  1. Rocketmailman

    Good or Bad

    or, put another way, is it T-Orange or Orible?

  2. The Metal Cod

    "Cut Customer Service Spending"

    Looks like time to find a new mobile provider is coming then. I dumped Orange because of poor service, T-Mobile have been nothing but helpful to me. That phrase "Cut customer service spending" sounds ominous. If the awful attitude and service from Orange takes over then I'm off.

  3. Pie Eater
    Paris Hilton

    Network share, or will T-Mobile become an MVNO?

    It'll be interesting to see how this is structured. It sounds as though Orange is taking over the running of the network, and that T-Mobile just becomes a super-MVNO, which the parent company can then sell to Orange (or anyone else who wants a large pre-pay customer base).

    Paris, because that where FT are based.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I hope they chose something other than tea orange as the name.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    cuts in customer service :D

  6. Jimmy Floyd

    Dolphins, panthers, aadvarks, lesser-spotted primates...

    I left Orange for T-Mobile a few years ago when they brought in that ridiculous animal-based pricing plan which seems to have been dreamt up by a part-time stoned existentialist at France Telecom. I note they're still plugging that one.

    Still, if it brings down Orange's cost of mobile interweb to something approaching reasonable then I, for one, will welcome our new Franco-Prussian mobile telecommunications overlords.

  7. Radio


    Does this mean I can now get the exclusive Teflon white Hero on Orange? ;-)

  8. alistair millington

    Just as long as

    T mobile doesn't take up those stupid animals. They need to be shot.

  9. Taz Taziuk
    Thumb Down

    Bah, Humbug

    I've stuck with T-Mobile for as long as I've had a mobile because they have the cheapest call rates to Canada from the UK by far...50%...this is gonna screw me over.

  10. Ally J
    Thumb Down

    What shall we get from the merger?

    I have a sinking feeling this will mean Orange's level of customer service combined with T-mobile's technical knowledge.

    I have a feeling we're doomed.

  11. Vitani

    As a T-Mobile customer

    I hope this means I can finally get a 3G signal in my totally rural location of... Lincoln

  12. Number6


    Are they going to call the new company Orange Tea?

    I left Orange for T-Mobile a couple of years ago. Looks like they've got me back, at least until the end of my current contract.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Are overlaping networks anything other than a waste of money?

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Does this mean that T-Mobile will take down the friggin' mast that they stuck at the bottom of my garden 2 years ago as there's an Orange one down the road too? Or am I asking too much to want the £15k they knocked off the value of my house back?

  15. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Oh well

    That's T-Mobile down the crapper then - and MVNOs (like Virgin Mobile) with them. Being an Orange customer is not something I'd wish on anyone but my very worst enemy.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    An ungodly mess

    I have a feeling that this is going to turn into an ungodly mess.

    Not only do you have to throw the JV with 3 in there regarding the cell site deal, but you also have to consider the fact that neither Orange nor T-Mobile are standalone UK based operators anymore. Both operators IT systems and infrastructure are heavily tied to their international operators. Integrating these systems, while taking into account the diverging interests of France Telecom and the rest of T-Mobile will be astonishingly difficult. This is the sort of thing that'll take five years or so to achieve.

    In the meantime, there will be pressure from shareholders to start realising value straight away, so there will be job cuts almost instantly. Inevitably, this will be to the IT and operations staff -- the ones who know how all the systems work. So, you'll be trying to integrate these incredibly complex IT systems covering mediation, rating, billing, customer services, web portals, provisioning, ESBs etc. etc -- all completely different -- without the key people who actually know how they work.

    A receipe for disaster. They may have 28 million (notional) customers now. I can bet this'll be back down to 16MM or so after the merger has finished!

  17. Neil 4

    spend between £600m and £800m integrating their businesses.

    That'll be the cost of the redundancies, then.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Does this mean I have to turn into a raccoon, or a dolphin, or some other weird as shit animal?

  19. adnim

    Cheaper calls

    "The companies reckon that by merging the networks they can save €4bn"

    That's wonderful news, what's that? The savings will go into the pockets of shareholders and executives, not the customer? Well who would have guessed.

  20. Paul R

    Just great...

    I moved away from Orange to T-Mobile at my last contract renewal. Ah well, was thinking of geting an i-Phone next anyway, so looks like I'm off to 02 next.

  21. SuperTim

    Twice as many

    Disgruntled customers?

  22. spencer

    Is this good or bad....

    for t-mobile/orange users?

  23. jackharrer
    Thumb Down


    "The UK will then be down to four network operators: T-Orange, Vodafone, 3 and O2. This is probably a sensible number for a country of this size."

    Right now operators in UK have 20% smaller profits than rest of EU because of fierce competition. Also prices are quite low. When we get only 4 operators, that will effectively reduce competition and put prices up. I'm not really so sure if that's such a great idea.

  24. Rhys Briffett
    Jobs Halo


    T-Mobile have always had excellent customer service with me and now they're cutting the costs by slashing the budget for customer services?

    Guess I'll be getting that iPhone after all...

  25. caffeine addict
    Thumb Down


    A while back I was looking into home GSM repeaters and found that ones that worked for Orange also worked for T-mobile but not Vodafone or 3, so presumably there are two differing GSM platforms. If so, T-Orange is probably the only merger that makes sense.

    Hopefully they'll scrap the rubbish t-mobile system round here and keep the Orange one. Unlikely, I know...

  26. MrAFuller

    LTE may just get the investment it needs

    With T-mobile hell-bent on LTE in its German (home) market, perhaps now they will have the much-needed cash to invest in the UK market.

  27. ElNumbre
    Thumb Down

    Ohh Cock.

    I hope TMob customers (me included) don't have to take Orange tariffs - they're the biggest pile of plop going, especially with regard to mobile internet.

    Might have to switch to Three in about 16 months.

  28. Dave_H

    Won't improve service

    "The biggest savings will come from dismantling redundant network infrastructure, as Orange and T-Mobile have heavily overlapping networks."

    Won't improve the lack of service in my area then! - rural Northamptonshire, bang centre of the country.

  29. Jay Castle

    I really, really hope.....

    ......that customer service will still be handled by the Orange side of things. T-Mobile are so shit at it, t's not even funny!!

  30. SynnerCal

    What about Three?

    As far as I remember, Three has business relationships with both of these companies - I'm sure I remember reading that T-Mobile/Three were sharing some infrastructure; and (reputedly) Orange provides the phone coverage when you're in those areas that a Three 3G signal can't reach.

    In which case, I wonder what - if anything - this deal will do to Three? Does this mean a closer tie-up between T-Orange and Three, or are Three going to take fright and look for another partner - Vodafone perhaps?

    If - whatever happens - this means a stronger/wider-availability of a 3G signal then this deal is good news to me. Oh, and as long as they don't change the T&C's for WebNWalk PAYG...

  31. Danny 5

    wrong title

    i'm missing a "two wrongs don't make a right" title!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Good or bad?

    Firstly: "The UK will then be down to four network operators: T-Orange, Vodafone, 3 and O2"

    I make that three networks - '3' don't have enough coverage to warrant being called a network... perhaps we should term it as three networks and one notwork?

    Anyway, I can't decide whether this is good or bad - hopefully they'll merge the network but start from scratch on the customer service side of things - t-mobile's customer service varies, but orange's is consistently worse.

    My hunch is: good for orange customers, bad for t-mobile customers

  33. zedee

    The obvious new brand

    It's got to be Pekoe, innit?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    from 5 to 3....

    Well, seeing as T-Mobile and 3 have consolidated over 2,000 of their sites already and are well on the way to having the joint network completed, that is essentially going to give us 3 3G Networks.

    Good news if you have an orange mast overlooking your house - as when TM/3 want to consolidate a site, chances are the landlord will push for a review of the terms of the lease, and this will mean that there won't be any break clauses for TM/3 to get out of for some time yet.

    Cue Orange serving notice on a whole lot of sites......

    If you live in the middle of nowhere - still no 3G reception for you - but that's your own fault for living in the middle of nowhere

  35. Daniel Owen


    Not sure if this is good news, or "don't care" news.

    Orange are still in my good books after letting me cancel my contract and flog my i8910 for £300 profit.

    Coverage is ok on my hero too, can't imagine it will get worse if I can use T-Mobile's masts in the future too.

  36. J 21


    Does this merger violate the terms of a pay monthly contract, thus allowing me to leave T-Mobile without being charged?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Good or bad?

    "My hunch is: good for orange customers, bad for t-mobile customers"

    That's my feeling too - I switched to T-Mobile a couple of years ago because O2 were consistently shit. In the meantime, I've stuck with T-Mobile because they're better than the alternatives in terms of having a tariff that suits my mobile usage (which is very low - just because mobiles are deemed a necessity doesn't stop them being a pain in the arse)

    Not only have I just renewed my contract (getting a tenner a month off in the process) but I've also taken out a T-Mobile 'Daily Broadband' package for when I'm cycle-touring. If that goes bye-bye then so do I, and it would be a pity - whilst I've not dealt with T-Mobile customer service over the phone, I've found the staff in their York and Leeds stores to be very knowledgeable and helpful (quick shout to Luke in the Leeds store for not giving me funny looks when I told him I ran Linux on my netbook)

    OTOH, I'm going to wait and see what happens - I had similar misgivings when Demon were taken over by Cable & Witless, but there have been few ill effects so far. Who knows, that could be the case here ...

  38. Stacy
    Thumb Down

    Bad luck!

    They did the same over (nl) here a couple of years ago when I was an orange customer. What it meant was that orange stopped developing pricing plans, so when 3g finally became available it was 6 euros per *MB* or so, and they closed the orange shops down giving twice the customers in the T-Mobile shop with the same staff. When you did eventually get served (could take 90 mins sometimes) you were just told sorry we don't deal with orange customers - just wait for your contract to run out and we'll be glad to move your over to T-Mobile (what? I thought it was a merger and so I was with T-Mobile already?!?!?!?!?!).

    And this after a long marketing campaign saying how great it was going to be with two lots of shops to help all the customers...

    Good luck - you're going to need it!

  39. kevjs

    Oh drat...

    A few years ago I switched from Orange's abysmal network and customer services on my personal mobile, and later recommended a similar (and very successful) switch at work - now it looks like I'll be moving back :o(

    While Orange and their network was a big pile of steaming mess; T-Mobile have been nothing but helpful and have been able to provide a network that works (when you have a signal - their only problem - at least having a signal means a working connection unlike Orange) - the people I feel sorry for are the polite and helpful folks in T-Mobile's CS.

    Let us hope and pray that T-Mobile staffers are the ones that do the day to day running of the network and customer services - if it's left to Orange we'll be doomed....

    12 months of my contract to go, hopefully that will give me enough idea of whether the network is heading to the dogs are not, without it become a big pile of plop.

  40. Chronos

    Doesn't this mean...

    ...that one company will control 1.8GHz in the UK in its entirety? Where does this leave the MVNOs such as Tesco and Virgin?

    I also thought there were limits to how much spectrum one network could "own" or did Mandy change that a few days ago?

    Most confusing.

  41. StooMonster
    Thumb Down


    Neither T-mobile nor Orange work at my house.

  42. Ted Treen

    One can only speak...

    as one finds.

    I (& SWMBO) have been with Orange for ten years, and there have been one or two problems occur - nothing life-threatening, though.

    I can only say I've found Orange CustServices AND staff in the Orange Shops to be helpful, courteous, efficient & effective.

    No, I don't work for Orange, nor am I associated with them in any way. I can omly report my experience, & I wouldn't think of leaving Orange as they've given me no reason to go, and several reasons to stay.

  43. Vince

    @J 21

    "Does this merger violate the terms of a pay monthly contract, thus allowing me to leave T-Mobile without being charged?"


  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read the press release...

    Wait until the details of the deal are released, at the moment both companies have only just started formally discussing the possibilities. There is a long way to go before anything is finalised...

    The deal if 50/50 so no reason for people to assume that customer service is going to go downhill or fear the worst. So it doesn't mean that Flext will be gone and replaced by the animals from Orange, both companies will remain as separately branded entities for 18 months after the deal is agreed.

    Lay-offs will be expected - there is no point in having both operators contact centers as separate entities, so combining and reducing costs will obviously happen. If the best bits can be kept, there is no reason why the current Orange service wont improve, unlikely, but no reason why it will automatically be dragged down.

    I work for one of the operators, and can only hope we cut the deadwood from both sides - projects and people, and management can somehow make this a streamlined and efficient joint venture.

  45. Red Bren

    Spare 3G licence anyone?

    When the original 3G licences were auctioned by the government, were any clauses put in place so that in the event of a merger/take-over, the spare licence(s) would have to be released to allow another operator into the market? Or will T-Orange/O-Mobile/W-hatever be allowed to keep both licences prevent a new player or MVNO from competing?

  46. \\\

    Wonder how it'll affect mobile internet

    I left Orange a couple of years ago for T-Mobile due to mobile internet. Both "unlimited" internet.

    Orange £8/month - 30Mb fair usage policy

    T-Mobile £7.50/month - 1Gb fair usage policy

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Please bring back Mercury One2One and Hutchinson Orange. Both very innovate and competitive companies with decent customer services.

  48. G-Man

    Smacks of desperation...

    I wonder how long "O'Mobile" will be top dog in terms of market share? Certainly both companies have their failings that will need to be addressed immediately to stop a mass exodus.

    O2 have done very well in the last 2-3 years selling iPhones to iDiots but their network has had some embarrassing crashes and the iPhone bubble will burst eventually. Vodafone are re-focussing their activities too.

    Post merger, cue lots of O2/VF and possibly 3 activity to win over lots of disgruntled/confused customers. Everyone wins???

  49. Simon B

    Yet more unemployment, oh joy!

    Yet more unemployment, oh joy! Just what the country needs.

  50. Lionel Baden
    Thumb Down

    fine im off

    Im leaving T-Mobile for Orange !!!

    no but seriously if they start turning off t-mobile masts im gonna be pissed its the only f'ing signal i ca get at home

  51. Anna Logg

    oh dear

    These mergers tend to be good for nobody, with the possible exception of the shareholders.


    Voda and 02 do have a small slcie of GSM1800 spectrum to play with, 5 MHz each IIRC.

    A monumental integration nightmare at all levels.

  52. Soruk

    @ Chronos re MVNOs

    Virgin seen to be all for this deal, and as for Tesco, it won't affect them as they use O2's network.

  53. MikeWW

    Pros and Cons

    I'm not happy about T-Mobile and Orange merging either - I left Orange to go to One2One (yep, that's how long I've been with them!) because the customer service was shocking and I could never get a signal. It makes you feel much better driving down a country road in the middle of nowhere in Winter at 4 in the morning when your mobile phone actually works!

    On the plus side at least it isn't a tie up with Vodafone. My wife used to work for a company that they bought because "they liked the way they did things, especially with regard to customer service". 6 months later they were forced to change to the Vodafone way of doing things and their appalling customer service. Not only did this mean a lot of very unhappy customers, many of whom left, but also unhappy employees as they often had to deal with the Head Office staff themselves. If you work for them and get appalling service then what chance do you have as a customer?

  54. Justabloke 1

    @Ted Treen

    yes One can only speak as one finds...

    I've been an Orange customer for over 10 years and have found that while I've never had a problem with coverage, customer service has gone from bad to dreadful over the last 2 or 3 years, to the extent that even if they gave me my current plan for nothing I doubt I'd stay with them now. They've only kept me the last 2 years through bribery.

    The problem is of course, that for every happy user for any network there will always be an unhappy user... so where does one put ones monthly money?

    In my experience mergers of this sort rarely if ever improve anything for anyone.

  55. Michael Jennings

    I am cynical about the "merger" thing

    The reason for this "merger" thing is that if it were an outright sale of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telecom and hence the German government would have to take a very large write down in their books immediately, and they don't want to. By retaining half the equity for now they can either amortise their loss slowly or postpone the writedown some distance into the future. Really,though, this is a takeover by Orange/ France Telecom. In 18 months the T-Mobile brand will be gone, and they have probably already agreed that Orange will take at least a majority stake then. This makes me pessimistic. Orange has by far the worse customer service and their "Animal" plans are stupid, whereas T-Mobile's Flext deals and Web 'n' Walk are good value. and sensibly constructed.

  56. Richard 50

    The only way is down

    T-Mobile Customers should be very, very, frightened. Orange started out with decent customer service, but since then, I've experienced:

    * A billing system that sends bills to someone I've never heard of, at my address

    * A billing system with painfully obvious IT problems, not properly handling payments

    * A SIM card which when transfered to a newer phone caused numbers from one UK exchange to be rejected as NU, but only if the phone was turned on (voicemail if off)

    * A bunch of harrassed sounding staff who seem too overwhelmed to give proper support

    * A (mobile) support number for my phone which seemed to be the private number of a relative of the support person.

    * Idiotic SMS messages telling me what bonuses I haven't earned, this month

    * An inability to respond to any communications, latterly, even when threatened with Oftel

    * An opaque charging structure, entangled with "no way back" options

    * And those idiotic animals

    Abandon hope, all ye who enter here...

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where the HELL is our so-called Monopolies Commission???

    I can remember the days when our Monopolies Commission actually worked for their crust....

  58. OneTwoThreeFour
    Thumb Up

    Quite hard to put a good spin on this

    I used Orange->Virgin (T-Mobile) and just moved to 3. In cities the coverage seems the same, but in rural areas I get good Orange/3/O2 and no T-Mobile.

    I remember Orange's customer service being pretty awful, and they sent us several faulty phones which we spend a lot of time messing around with sending them back again, which eventually prompted me to move to Virgin Mobile.

    I think Virgin have great customer service, poor network (T Mobile's network is sooo shit!) but they've pretty much lost their differentiation now their plans are so complicated. And I really hate Virgin Media, who signed us up under a special offer they then claimed didn't exist costing us an extremely large sum of money (maybe around £150?).

    The biggest shocker for me was 3: really good customer service, great value pay-as-you-go and indispensable free Skype coupled with very good network coverage. Amazing.

    If anyone's looking for a new network, I highly recommending having a look at Three!

  59. Tim J

    @John 186 (at 16:33) - Re Monopolies Commission

    (1) The Monopolies and Mergers Commission is called the Competition Commission these days.

    (2) What's happened today is that two private companies have announced a *proposed* merger. No regulatory body can possibly stop them making such announcements.

    (3) The regulators will undoubtedly be all over this, be in no doubt. The current word is that the European Commission's competition bods are going to be taking the lead (as it has pan-European ramifications), and will be looking at it in conjunction with OfCom - a timetable of six months of so until they give their verdict is being talked about.

    (4) As well as either blocking or allowing the merger, the regulators can also conditionally allow the merger to proceed so long as the parties agree to a number of stipulations. I dare say this is the most likely course of action.

    Anyone yelping about the lack of regulatory oversight at this point in time is entirely missing the point.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Where the HELL is our so-called Monopolies Commission???

    Doing what it does best by encouraging them?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tim J

    "The Monopolies and Mergers Commission is called the Competition Commission these days."

    "Anyone yelping about the lack of regulatory oversight at this point in time is entirely missing the point."

    Words upon words, when the average citizen is looking for reassurance, in a political climate where takeovers and mergers are increasingly perceived - rightly or wrongly - as a source of concern.

    The only thing I - or any of us - are "missing" is an immediate and clear public statement of the state of play from whatever the Competition Commission calls itself these days. Not unreasonable and not rocket science.

    Be in no doubt? I doubt everything from govt these days other than the glint of silver in their palms...

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