Thursday, February 12, 2009

Government moves to settle mobile broadband spectrum dispute

Lord Carter, the communications minister, has today called a meeting with the UK's five mobile phone networks as he tries to thrash out a deal that will help achieve his ambition of universal broadband access by 2012.

The former head of regulator Ofcom is attempting to get the UK's two original mobile phone networks, Vodafone and O2 – formerly Cellnet – to share a slice of the airwaves they were given in the 1980s, so that rivals T-Mobile, Orange and 3 can use it for mobile broadband services.

Lord Carter, in his initial Digital Britain report last month, said the mobile phone companies must thrash out a compromise on sharing the airwaves by the end of April or the government would impose a solution.

The slice of the airwaves controlled by O2 and Vodafone is important to the introduction of universal broadband because it is at a low frequency, which means signals can travel over longer distances.

O2 and Vodafone, understandably, are reluctant to give up their spectrum at the 900 MHz frequency unless the government offers them a sweetener by giving them a slice of the airwaves freed up by the switch-off of the analogue TV signal.

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O2 launches into growing laptop market

O2 today unveiled its plans to enter the laptop market with a promise to couple market-leading home and mobile broadband with impressive devices and excellent customer service. With laptop sales expected to reach 9-10 million devices in 2009, O2 is ranging Samsung laptops to create exclusive packages that will give customers everything they need to be more connected, with minimum fuss and hassle.

O2 will introduce three new Pay Monthly deals, available online and at its 490 stores nationwide, on 27 February 2009. With broadband bundles set to take a large proportion of the overall laptop market within three years, O2 is entering this market in a strong position with an all-round package that will meet the consumer needs of style, substance, staying power, service and security head-on.

O2 CEO, Ronan Dunne, highlighted the great opportunity presented by the market today: "We all want to be better connected at all times and the substantial and continued growth in the laptop market is symptomatic of this desire. Laptops are rapidly eroding the desktop PC market and at the same time, the emergence of the mini-laptop has opened up a whole new market for ultra-portable devices – one that is expected to more than double in size in 2009 alone. To date, the subsidised laptop market has received some bad press due to poor equipment and frustrating customer service experiences. O2 is stepping into the market with a promise to turn this around by taking a holistic approach to the product offer. Our package ticks every box when it comes to the main purchase drivers in the market, which in turn means we are taking away the 'worry-factor' involved in buying a laptop."

O2's laptop package is designed to give customers everything they want at a price that they will love:

Style – Samsung's NC10 mini-laptop and R510 laptop models combine great design with looks for the ultimate in laptop style.

Substance – with strong specifications and great performance, Samsung's NC10 mini-laptop and R510 model deliver on functionality too.

Staying Power – Samsung's solid specifications deliver staying power and assure customers that their choice of device will meet their computing needs for years to come, rather than just months.

Service – Recognising the 'worry factor' that many consumers have when looking to buy a laptop, O2 will offer customers expert sales advice to meet their needs. This includes O2 Laptop Support at no additional cost for a limited period to help get them up and running, with a chargeable option to extend this cover, O2 Assistant software to allow computers to be fixed remotely and award-winning UK based customer service. In addition O2 is offering a 30-day Happiness Guarantee on all laptops and an extended two-year warranty on all devices at no extra cost.

Security – McAfee software to ensure customers feel secure online.

"The growth in the laptop market is clear to see and we want to be a part of it. But we want to ensure that our customers get a better experience, not just when they buy the package but throughout the duration of their contract with us. Our two year warranty and 30-day Happiness Guarantee are market leading and show our continued commitment to providing great service," adds Dunne.

"Our bundle packages, unique amongst those currently on the market, provide customers with everything they need and we are confident they will move people away from traditional laptop providers and into our stores."

Customers can purchase O2's new laptop packages at any of the 490 stores across the UK or by visiting our online shop at from 27 February 2009.

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