Dixons Carphone has announced a new mobile phone network, called iD, which promises to be the cheapest on the market and offers free roaming in more countries than its competitors.
Launching in May, the network uses existing mobile masts and infrastructure owned by Three. It will offer 12-month plans with 4G data and increased contract flexibility over the networks currently available. A main aim of iD will be to pair up customers with the right price of contract, as the retailer says in the UK alone, consumers spend £5.42bn ($8.15bn) too much on phone contracts each year.
In a bid to remove so-called "bill shock", the iD network has price plans that can be controlled and capped to prevent customers from spending too much each month. To stop customers racking up enormous data charges when using their phone abroad, iD offers free roaming in 22 countries, more than the 18 offered by infrastructure partner Three and the 17 countries covered by Lyca, a company specialising in cheap international calling and data.
Tariff details have not yet been announced but as a teaser, Dixons Carphone has said the Samsung A3 will be available on a 12-month, 4G plan from iD with 300 minutes, 5,000 texts and 1GB of data for £19.50 per month. iD plans will be available from branches of Carphone Warehouse, Currys and PC World, as well as online.
The olive branch
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said: "It's quite a coup that iD piggybacks off Three's network given that Carphone Warehouse hasn't offered any deals from the network in years. Perhaps iD Mobiles was the olive branch...iD's success all hinges on how keenly these shorter contracts are priced. We eagerly await more concrete details, in terms of cost and the full range of handsets that will be offered.
"Carphone's 'insider' knowledge – from selling deals across most of the big players – means iD should be able to win customers round by both undercutting existing deals on the market and delivering added value to its contracts."
Graham Stapleton, CEO of Carphone Warehouse, said: "We've been listening to our millions of customers' network requirements and desires for years. In doing so we have identified some common challenges. People want great flexibility from their plans and are fed up with the 'one size fits all' approach.
"This is just the beginning. We know that there are lots more customer issues and frustrations with existing mobile plans that we're eager to tackle. We want this network to be focused on the individual and we will continue to listen to customers over the coming months, asking them to help develop and evolve iD."