Orange was formed in 1994 for Hutchison Telecom‘s UK mobile phone network before being bought by Mannesmann AG in 1999. It was then sold to France Télécom in May 2000. It is the eighth largest telecoms provider in the world, with over 189 million worldwide customers and about 17 million UK customers as of 2009. Its annual revenue is about £4.5 million.
In the UK, Orange GPRS, EDGE and 3G services and is in the process of rolling out a HSDPA network. Orange’s 2G network covers 99% of the UK and, in 2008, Orange was spending up to £1.5 million per day investing in its network. In 2009, Orange UK decided to outsource its mobile network and Nokia Siemens Networks was chosen to manage, plan, expand, and maintain the Orange mobile network until 2014.
In 2009, Orange and T-Mobile announced a proposed merger and by March 2010, the European Commission had approved the merger with the new parent company being called “Everything Everywhere”. Both the Orange and T-Mobile brands were retained while the company is now the UK’s largest mobile operator with 37% of the market. It also acts as the backbone infrastructure for the first ever virtual network, Virgin Mobile.
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Orange offer a broad range of price plans on PAYG which mean it’s possible to tailor your tariffs to your particular needs, resulting in great value for money. The variety of plans is better than any other network, however, it does make choosing the optimal option very confusing. In fact, customers are almost given too much choice and may find it hard to pick the correct tariff. However, with some careful calculations, you should be able to pick something that will save you cash.
They are frequently rated as having some of the best customer service although some people have reported having problems with them. Also, despite the range of PAYG price plan options, they are still more expensive than many virtual networks. Although one thing going for Orange is the amazing Orange Wednesdays deal – every Wednesday, Orange customers can get 2 for 1 cinema tickets or 2 for 1 pizzas. You can’t complain about that.
Now that they have merged with T-Mobile they have one of the best 2G networks in the country so you are unlikely to experience any signal problems. At 93% of the UK, their 3G coverage is also fantastic so you should always be able to get the fastest speeds.
To conclude, they have great network coverage and the tempting Orange Wednesdays offers. However, the PAYG price plans can be a little confusing and they are still more expensive than other virtual networks. To learn more, please check out the Orange website or order a free Orange SIM with £10 bonus credit today.
At a glance
Orange charge 20p/minute for calls and 10p per text which situates them firmly in standard pricepoint territory. (As of 1st July 2011, Orange massively hiked its PAYG tariff prices to 25p/minute for calls and 12p for each text making them one of the most expensive networks in the UK). Data is quite expensive at £2/day with a limit of 25MB a day but there are options to get cheaper data if you need it. Unfortunately, they charge for 0800 calls and sending MMS messages and calling 0870 numbers is very expensive.
What makes Orange different is their various animal offers. While they are so many options it can seem complicated, you’ll probably find something that fits the way you use your phone.
The Racoon is great for those who just want a simple plan with low-cost calls. Calls and texts are set at a standard rate of 12p with no minimum top-up although, of course, better deals can be had as standard from virtual networks and it’s worth remembering that texts are usually only 12p on other Orange plans.
For high-volume texters, the Monkey plan is best as it gives free texts with every top-up – you get 300 texts for a £10 credit and 1000 texts for a £30 credit. You also get free music included in this deal as long as you top-up at least £5 although it is only music provided by Orange. You also get a 2MB daily data allowance and can get unlimited texts for a month with a £5 bundle.
Even better is the Dolphin plan which also gives you text bonuses when you top-up but, in addition, allows free data usage up to 100MB/month. Although this is only about 3MB a day, this is great value because for a £10 top-up you get 300 texts as well free internet. The unlimited texts bundle for £5 is also available on Dolphin.
Canary gives you free minutes and texts or MMS. For a £10 credit you get 100 of each while topping up £30 will give you 300 minutes and 300 texts or photo messages. If you send a lot of MMS, this can be a great money saver although do bear in mind that the minutes can only be used at evenings and weekends.
The last option is Camel which gives you free international calling minutes to over 50 foreign countries when you top up by £10 or more. However, the normal international rates aren’t particularly cheap when you aren’t using your included minutes.
Orange also offers bundles of minutes for a cut price – for example the 100 minute bundle lasts a month and costs only £5 which makes calls just 5p/minute. Or they let you buy 250MB of data for £5 which is only 2p/MB and lasts a month.
Finally, the Magic Numbers PAYG deal allows you to chat to three specific Orange numbers for an hour and pay only for one minute.
To compare Orange’s latest pricing with that of other networks, check out our price comparison table.
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