Rather than buy or build a telecom network, Tesco decided to use the expertise of existing telecoms. Tesco Mobile was launched in 2003. By December 2004, 500,000 customers had signed to its mobile service and in December 2005, Tesco announced it had one million customers using its mobile service. By April 2006, there were over one and a half million telecom accounts in total, including mobile, fixed line and broadband accounts. Tesco Mobile is a joint venture between O2 UK and Tesco. In 2007, O2 Ireland and Tesco Ireland launched Ireland's first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Tesco Mobile. Tesco Mobile is available in almost 700 Tesco stores. Tesco's mobiles and SIM packs are also now available in its smaller Metro stores. Airtime sales totalled over £350 million for 2005/06. Tesco now operates ISP, mobile phone, home phone and VoIP businesses marketed via the Tesco website and through Tesco stores. Tescos mobile phones are aimed towards the family market, which is not targeted by O2. Tescomobile states that their aim is to offer choice with a range of products to suit all pockets, with a friendly, reliable service.
Tesco's stated approach is to get back to basics. Knowing that many people find the mobile phone market confusing, they decided to keep things simple and offer a no frills service. They aim to offer value, simplicity and choice with supermarket style offers and the chance to earn Clubcard points when buying handsets and call time. Their number of customers keeps rising and they've won numerous awards for customer service. Tesco mobiles doesn't offer Internet or picture messaging and so suits those who just want a cell phone to be a simply a phone in the UK.
In 2005, Tesco introduced a 'Value' tariff, and reduced international calling rates. The flat-rate Value tariff is intended for users who only want to call and text on their Tesco mobile phone. It's available to customers who purchase a special SIM card and lets mobile users call or text for a single lower rate. The Standard tariff offers calls and texts at a slightly higher rate. It also allows you to have three numbers to which you get half price calls and texts. Tesco phones Extra Tariff is cheaper, but to stay on this tariff you must spend a certain amount each month. This tariff allows Internet access and picture messaging etc. Tesco's most recent offering, Standard Plus, offers pay as you go contracts with a monthly free text bonus or free minutes when users top up by a specified amount each month. It's designed for people who top-up regularly and want the flexibility of PAYG. The deal gives customers similar bonus airtime and text benefits to those received by customers who have monthy contracts.
Topping up Tesco's mobile phones can be done at tills, online or voucher by phone. You can also buy bundles, where you get extra credit. Call credit never expires with Tescomobile phones and calls always cost the same so you don't get penalised if you need to use the phone during the day. Tesco's ping me a pound service allows you to transfer £1 of credit to another Tesco mobile and can be useful if members of the same family have Tesco phones.
As with all Tesco's products, you can earn Clubcard points when you register a Tescos phone. If you link a Clubcard to your Tesco Mobile number, you'll earn points just for talking. When you top-up your Tesco Mobile phone at Tesco and use your Clubcard, you get double Clubcard points. It's possible to link all your family's Tesco Mobile phones to one Clubcard and earn extra points that way.
Only 18% of the UK population presently recycles their mobile phones. Most people have no idea what to do with them once they've finished with their phone and simply throw them in the bin. Tesco aims to encourage recycling by offering free airtime, Clubcard points or a donation to charity to anyone who recycles a phone through their scheme. It isn't necessary to be a Tesco phone customer to take advantage of this. Through Tesco mobile phones you can recycle your working mobile phone online and earn airtime if you're a Tescos mobiles or a Tesco Gift Card if you're with another network. You can also get Green Clubcard Points or donate a small sum to charity.
You can access Tesco's Mobile Phone website at www.tesco.com/mobilenetwork/ though they have a dedicated topup site at www.tescomobile.com though please note that www.tescomobile.co.uk goes somewhere else as does www.tescomobiles.com and www.tescomobiles.co.uk (we haven't checked other variations like tescosmobile etc.) www.tescophone.com and www.tescophones.com will take you to other Tescos Services and although you can find links to the mobile phones site it would be simpler to bookmark the site especially as many of the variants are not owned by them such as www.tescophone.co.uk and www.tescophones.co.uk and the last thing you want is to accidentally give personal information to the wrong company.
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