Sunday, December 06, 2009

The phoney war

The cellphone operators raise TMP's blood pressure as much as any of the cartels that 13 years of Labour misrule has allowed to flourish and torment our lives in this benighted land.

TMP exists on the fringe of coverage for all the networks, rumour has it that a local resident once objected to the location of a relay mast, and around 500 residents have been cursed with indifferent to crap coverage ever since. Even a

For reasons of pure inertia, and the effort Orange puts into preventing its customers from finding ways to escape from its clutches, we cannot presently recall, we've put up with Orange for the past 10 or so years. However, 10 years ago, TMP world HQ was located in an area of urban coverage. 5 years ago TMP relocated - but with the relatively dull services possible at that time, it wasn't a terrible nuisance to be out of cellphone range. However, over the past 5 years the integration of the internet and cellphones have made the absence of cellular coverage a major factor of social exclusion. Maybe not quite as bad as living just off the broadband coverage map, but a pretty close thing.

So TMP has become increasingly agitated by the lack of coverage, and started to shop around to see if any of the other networks were any beter. We always checked with visitors to see if their phone worked and if so, what network. O2 seemed to come off better than Orange (anything was better Orange), and there was some talk of O2 making a picocell/femtocell - a miniature local base station that looks like a wifi router (which is what it basically is) that you plug into a broadband router for backhaul - available in fringe areas.

We are also weary of lies told by cellphone salespeople. We switched one from Orange (France Telecom) to O2 (Telefonica) two years ago, and were assured we were in a coverage area. Of course we are not, but we simply couldn't be bothered to go through the huge hassle again of baling out of 02, and transferring the number again. And O2 and the rest know it.

The efforts that their marketing departments go to in order to invent obscure and confusing "subscription plans" is quite astonishing. Orange feel the need to call their hideous creations banal but cuddly names like Dolphin and Panda. Rat and Louse would be more appropriate and reflect the nature of those tormenting the punters more accurately.

TMP will keep you advised of our experiences of getting PAC numbers from Orange and o2, and then setting up a deal we can all understand with Vodafone. We are expecting pain.

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