Orange has joined most of the other networks in simplifying its data charging tariffs and opening up unmetered data access.
On Pay Monthly there’s a £5 rate for evening and weekend web use, or Monthly Anytime browsing for £8. For PAYG users there’s a prepay £5 rate for seven days; and for both Pay Monthly and PAYG customers there’s all-day usage at £1. Orange also has a price cap for customers who don't sign up to a bundle. These customers will be able to browse the mobile internet as they do now, but will only be charged up to a maximum of £1.50 per day (Pay Monthly) or £2 (Pay As You Go).
On top of that, all Orange customers will now have free access to their own personalised Orange World homepage, as well as news headlines and favourites. There’s no charge for mobile internet searches or for browsing the catalogue of downloadable video, games, music and ringtones.
It seems likely that the previous fair-usage limit of 1GB per month will still apply, and Orange is trying to discourage customers from using some internet-based services – notably VoIP and IM. The reason isn’t of course that free internet calling might impact its own voice-call revenues; instead “we would discourage any customer from using VoIP through the mobile internet due to the quality of service they may experience”.
Orange does promise its own “high quality” IM service in the next few months “which will deliver a far superior customer experience to currently available services”.
Orange has also come up with a couple of new approaches to Pay As You Go tariffing. The Speak Easy plan has a flat rate of 15p a minute for almost all calls to any network at any time. And Reserve Tank is a kind of overdraft facility that makes it possible for Orange PAYG customers to make that essential call even after they have used all of their prepaid credit. The user pays £1 to sign up for it, but it gives them an ‘overdraft’ of up to £2.50 worth of calls.
Orange is also changing the Magic Numbers facility, which discounts calls to frequently-called contacts – PAYG customers can now nominate three numbers rather than one when they join Orange. Calls to Magic Numbers cost 15p for a whole hour.
Orange says the changes to its PAYG plans follows research that showed users home in on loyalty rewards, better call rates to other networks and flat, easy-to-understand pricing as the most important factors in choosing a mobile network.