The UK’s first-ever “people powered” mobile phone network is to launch later this year, offering customers a say in the business as well as financial rewards for their input.
Dubbed GiffGaff, the operator is to invite customers to provide feedback online to help shape the future direction of the business.
The company, which is a subsidiary of O2, will offer bill rebates and free airtime to consumers who bring in new business by encouraging friends to join as well as those who are especially receptive to inquiries.
Mike Fairman, head of GiffGaff, said: “There is so much collaboration already on the web that we wanted to see whether we could harness the enthusiasm people have online, take that idea and get a bunch of mobile users together and launch a business that is people-powered.
“The idea is simple: the more you do, the more you get back.”
GiffGaff will be a SIM-only service, with customers signing up for 30-day rolling contracts, and will go live before the end of 2009.
Mobile phone internet use spikes between 10 and 11 at night, a survey has shown, with hundreds of thousands of Britons taking to the web on their handsets while out drinking or returning from the pub.
In a study conducted by O2 it was revealed that 42 per cent of those surveyed used their phone to send emails late at night once a week.
Meanwhile, a third of the sample used their mobile to visit social networking sites at this time, while a fifth are partial to downloading music.
Antony Douglas, Head of Content for O2, said the trend was being driven by people returning from a night out.
He commented: “The O2 Pulse research confirms that one of the first things people do on their way home from a night out is surf the web from their mobile.
“With applications and the internet now so easily available, customers are hungry to chat, gossip, play and Facebook the small hours away on their phones, which might lead to a few embarrassed red faces in the morning – and not just from over-dosing on chilli sauce.”
O2, which is the official UK carrier of the iPhone 3G S also discovered that one third of all MMS messages are sent between 10 and 11’o clock.
T-Mobile and Orange are poised to merge to create the UK’s largest mobile phone network.
According to reports, France Telecom, Orange’s parent company, is currently conducting exclusive talks with T-Mobile’s owner over a deal.
Should an agreement be reached, the new company would be the market leader in the UK with a market share of 37 per cent – equating to some 28.4 million customers.
A statement from the two mobile phone companies said that a merger would “bring substantial benefits to UK customers”, among them better coverage and new and improved services.
The deal would also result in cost savings of £3.5 billion from efficiencies, it is forecast.
Gervais Pellissier, finance director of France Telecom said: “By combining our operations in the UK, we anticipate the long-awaited consolidation in one of Europe’s most competitive markets, thereby creating a well positioned player.”
Under the mooted plan, both the T-Mobile and Orange brands are to be retained for at least another 18 months.