Orange and T-mobile merger: it’s official (finally)

The Orange, T-Mobile merger is now official. And hardly surprisingly, Orange have emerged as the dominant partner, with UK boss, Tom Alexander announced as the new CEO. It is hoped that the merger will create savings of over £400m per year by reducing the number of base stations, rationalising stores and network operations. The merger will create the UK’s largest network by subscribers, coverage and just about anything else you care to mention.
At the moment each brand will retain it’s own name, but there is heavy speculation of a complete merger within a few years. What will be the new name? Torange? Morange? Orange-Mobile? Continuing a fruit based theme (not that Orange is supposed to be associated with the fruit, only the colour), how about Tangerine?

More on the merger here.

T-Mobile is giving away iphones

I blogged about this previous: T-Mobile were giving away iphones in order to retain their contract customers. I now have first-hand experience of this. I called the operator as my contract is due for renewal shortly. I told them I was interested in the iphone and they tried to offer me a number of other handsets including the G2 and the HTC Windows Mobile model. I kept telling them that I wasn’t interested in those and that I would take my contract to an operator that offers the iphone. They then made a firm offer that they would give me an iphone one month before my contract renewed in order to keep my business. They even told me that if my contract had been for renewal within the next month they would have given me an iphone right away.
So there you have it. T-Mobile will give you an iphone if it looks like you’re going to take your contract away!

T-Mobile’s missing data

It looks like the data that was sold by a T-Mobile employee is out there! I got a call from someone asking about my T-Mobile contract and offering me a better one. It sounded like it was from India. On checking the number, 05603018128, it looks to be a virtual number used by a VOIP system. In otherwords, it is untracable. When I told them I was aware of the missing data, the caller hung up.

If you have received that call, I suggest comlaining to the following:
Information Commissioners Office – unfortunately they can’t do much unless you can identify them, but at least it will help if someone does.
T-Mobile– although they are not making the calls, it is worth telling them in case they are able to trace the data.

In the meantime, I have commented on the subject at Mobile Marketing Magazine.

T-Mobile data sold by employee: what is the real problem?

Yesterday’s announcement that a T-mobile employee sold data, including phone numbers, names and addresses, raises some important issues for the sector.

The fact that it has been so widely reported shows that privacy is a major issue for people, especially when it comes to their mobile phones. Marketers need to understand the issue of privacy.

The response from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is interesting. The commissioner, Christopher Graham said:
“If public trust and confidence in the proper handling of personal information, whether by government or by others, is to be maintained effective sanctions are essential.” In saying that he was pushing for greater penalties, suggesting that the individual should be jailed.

Fair enough. But there are greater issues than simply the bad behaviour of one individual.
Firstly, where is the corporate responsibility? T-mobile state that the employee was sacked and that systems have been put in place to prevent it happening again. But why did it happen in the first place? And why should the blame go solely on one person? I believe that the operators have a responsibility to protect their data better. That isn’t just my view, you’ll also find that the Data Protection Act also agrees with me!

The fact is that data leakages have been commonplace from the mobile operators for years. I know of one contractor who was working short term for an operator. He could see all of the data and SMS content from the operator’s users. His girlfriend was on the particular network, so for a bit of fun he decided to see if he could see her text messages. He could. And it turned out she was having an affair with someone else!

On a further issue of corporate responsibility for data, who was buying it? Again, the telco’s or service providers who were intending to market to the T-Mobile customers should be carrying out the necessary due diligence to ensure the numbers were ligitimately obtained.

The second issue is that of the ICO, and their response. Christopher Graham was asking for tougher penalties. Looking at the $5m plus fines raised against spammers in Australia, I would agree, however, as I have already said, it should also apply at a corporate level, not simply ‘rogue’ individuals. However, in my experience the problem with the ICO is not simply the penalties, but actually enforcing the regulations in the first place. I blogged about tracking some spammers a few months ago. However, the net result is that it seems the ICO are not sufficiently resourced to trace them in the first place. When they are given information on spammers, they do not seem to be sufficiently resourced to make a prosecution.

So, perhaps the lessons to be learnt from this are:
The operators should do more to prevent data losses in the first place
The ICO should be given more resources to investigate and make prosecutions