O2 has lost its roaming contract with 3, reportedly worth £100m per year, after 3 selected Orange as its national roaming partner from the end of 2006.
O2 has supplemented 3’s network coverage since the 3G network launched in 2003.
“All potential suppliers were evaluated prior to the auction and those that met 3’s requirements for the supply of national roaming services were invited to register,” said 3 in a statement. “Orange tendered the most competitive bid for the supply of voice, text and data services.”

Happy together — Bob Fuller of 3 (top) and Bernard Ghillebaert from Orange UK  
The 3 network provides coverage for voice, text and 3G mobile services to 88% of the UK population. Orange claims to have 99% coverage for voice and text services and will take the slack when 3 customers lose 3G coverage.
3 customers will continue to roam on O2 until the transition phase commences in late 2006. After that, existing customers’ handsets will select the Orange network in preference to O2, although they will still be able to roam on to O2. Going forward into 2007, all new customers will only roam on to the Orange network.
3 UK CEO Bob Fuller said: “It was important we had a competitive tender and I am delighted with the outcome of the process. This is a good agreement for both 3 and Orange and will ensure that we continue to offer a great service to our customers.”
Bernard Ghillebaert, Executive VP of Orange UK noted that it makes commercial sense to utilise its network assets within the wholesale market. “The Orange network is renowned as one of the most robust and reliable networks in the UK … We will continue to offer the highest levels of network reliability and service to all of our 15million customers and look forward to a fruitful relationship with 3.”
The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
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