Orange and T-mobile customers to be able to roam for free

Orange and T-mobile have announced one of the first real milestones on the path to their full merger.

From October the 5th, customers on both networks will be able to sign up for free inter-network roaming. Customers will be able to sign up for free to allow their phones to automatically switch between the two networks depending on signal strength and network load.

So if you’re an orange customer and the signal is stronger on the T-mobile network where you happen to be at the time your phone will switch networks, just like it does with roaming abroad but without the astrononomical bill.

This sounds great, and I’m sure it will be for a while, but you have to wonder about the long term implications.

Take an area of a large city where both networks have good coverage, why maintain both lots of equipment? Why not just turn one lot off or sell it and move all your customers to the one that’s left? This seems like an obvious cost saving¬†exercise¬†for the newly merged business, but we’ll have to see how the trimmed down network copes with all the traffic, particularly with the continuing growth in data traffic. In the wake of Orange’s data fail the other week I’ll be watching carefully.

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