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Mobile phone groups lag in broadband market

18 августа 2008

Mobile phone operators look set to be second-tier players in the fixed-line broadband market.

Orange is the mobile operator with the largest number of fixed-line broadband customers, at 1.1m, but it has been suffering significant problems.

In March last year a survey by Watchdog, the BBC consumer programme, found Orange to be Britain’s worst internet access company. Watchdog viewers were asked to rate their broadband suppliers on, among other things, customer service and product reliability.

In the three months to June 30, Orange lost 44,000 broadband customers. That compared with the same period last year, when 5,000 were lost. The customer losses were partly the result of Orange halting its marketing campaign while broadband problems were sorted out.

Tom Alexander, chief executive of Orange UK since January, told employees in an e-mail last week that broadband customers were now getting an improved service.

“It’s fair to say that the service is in better shape than it has been for a number of years,” he said.

France Telecom, Orange’s owner, regards mobile and fixed-line businesses as mutually reinforcing, and Mr Alexander is reviewing the case for launching a television service over broadband.

However, O2 and Vodafone, the market leading mobile operators, have far less ambitious plans in broadband. They regard fixed-line internet access as a loyalty tool to retain their mobile customers.

O2 started selling broadband last October and signed up 62,800 customers in the second quarter. It has set itself a challenging target of having 1m customers by 2010.

Vodafone began selling broadband in January last year and has fewer than 50,000 customers. Vodafone has this year focused on selling wireless devices to customers that enable them to link their laptops to the internet through its mobile network rather than via fixed-line broadband.

Источник: Financial Times

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