English
12.09.2013

Orange is history: 3 eliminates free roaming

© Bild: APA/GEORG HOCHMUTH

As of today, August 19, the brand Orange no longer exists in Austria. Mobile phone provider 3 used the merger of the customer groups as an opportunity to present its new rate packages. There are still inexpensive entry-level plans. But the free roaming plan 3Like Home, which allows customers to use Internet and telephone services in 3 countries like Great Britain and Italy at no additional charge, was eliminated.

A total of eleven new voice plans from 3 were presented on Monday. As in the past, 3 offers entry-level plans starting at EUR 10, but the talk time and data are limited. Unlimited talk plans start at EUR 25. Some Europe plans, which offer 100 minutes within and to Europe starting at EUR 15, were taken over from Orange. However, the Europe plans do not include data roaming, because EU data roaming packages are only available in plans with a basic fee of at least EUR 65 per month, or must be added for an additional fee.

No more 3Like Home
As 3 confirmed at the press conference, the innovative 3Like Home package that allowed free roaming and telephoning in the 3 network in countries like Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden has been eliminated as part of the relaunch. For new customers, there is an additional plan called 3Europa that offers 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text messages and one gigabyte of data in these countries.

The 3Like Home plan will still be apply for existing customers, even if they do not extend their plan, 3 assured futurezone. But customers lose their free roaming when they switch to a new plan. The elimination of the innovative plan did not go unnoticed on the Internet. Shortly after the new plans were announced, the group Wir wollen 3LikeHome wieder was founded on Facebook and had over 1,000 members on Monday evening. Customers also expressed their disapproval on the 3 Facebook page.

Customers can still save money with SIM only plans with a low basic fee, if they already have a phone. The low SIM only plan is available as a special offer starting at EUR 7.50 and includes 1,000 minutes, 1,000 text messages and 1 gigabyte of data in Austria. A series of prepaid plans are also available from 3 and have no activation fee or minimum commitment period. These monthly plans range from EUR 8 to EUR 18.

“One and one is more”
“One plus one is not always two, it can also be more,” said 3 CEO Jan Trionow at the presentation of the new 3 strategy in Vienna on Monday. The goal of the merger was to combine the best of both worlds, he said. He added, hardly anyone inside or outside the company would have thought it possible to complete this “huge project” so fast in light of the fierce competition between the two companies in the past. “We want to stay on the offensive,” Trionow summarized, and then added that the 3 and Orange infrastructure together is the most powerful network in the country.

According to 3, nothing will change for Orange customers, who can now only find the 3 portal on the Internet. All contracts, services and even accrued bonus points will be maintained for former Orange customers. Customers with bonus points from Orange can extend their contract in the old system, or transfer to a new bonus program that 3 also introduced for 3 customers as part of the relaunch.

Contract extensions
This means that any former Orange customers who are planning to extend their contracts in the coming weeks should call the service hotline or visit a 3 shop to find out if a new phone will cost less in the old Orange bonus system or in the new 3 system. Only the 3 bonus program is shown on the Internet. The old system is to be continued at least until the end of the year, 3 told futurezone. A EUR 100 bonus is being offered to new customers, which is paid when the contract is signed.

According to 3 spokesman Tom Tesch, the existing 3 contracts are also not being changed. For example, many customers feared after the changes were announced that the bandwidth limits for mobile Internet will also apply to existing contracts. This and the rumors that tethering for the iPhone would no longer be supported are not true. According to 3, there are also no plans to disable the iOS function for new contracts.

Goal: 30 percent market share
According to 3 CEO Trionow, the goal of becoming the number two on the Austrian market over the long term and growing the company’s market share from 24 percent to 30 percent has not changed. For 2014, he expects a breakthrough with LTE, which will also make new rate packages possible. Customers of 3 and Orange are also to profit from the completed network integration in the coming weeks. Instead of 4,000 stations per network, there will then be over 6,000 and a corresponding improvement in signal strength. Because both providers use different frequencies and these are still being used, the number of stations will actually increase by 50 percent, Trionow explained to futurezone.

At the press conference, 3 also explained the ominous billboards posted in recent days with pithy negative statements contradicting election billboards and some competitor billboards. According to 3 spokesperson Petra Jakob, the combinations were random, and 3 had no influence at all on what billboard was put up where. The billboards now feature the 3 advertisements.