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Concern for customers as Sainsbury's pulls the plug on its mobile network

Wednesday, October 14th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Sainsbury’s is pulling out of the mobile market, it has emerged today.

Mobile by Sainsbury’s, which was launched in July 2013 and uses Vodafone’s network, will cease to exist from 15 January 2016.

A statement on the website for the supermarket’s mobile service told customers: “We’re sorry to let you know that from 15 January 2016, the Mobile by Sainsbury’s phone network will no longer be available.

“We’ve loved having you as a customer, and we know that changing your service provider can be a hassle.

“So, we want to make the process as straightforward as possible.

“Firstly, we’re telling you now so that you have plenty of time to decide what to do.”

The statement advised Pay As You Go customers that they can still top up until 14 November, in store and online, and will be able to use any remaining credit until 15 January.

Pay Monthly SIM Only customers are advised that their service will continue to work normally until 15 January.

The statement added: “You don’t need to do anything for the time being, but please remember to use any outstanding credit before 15 January, when the service will stop working.

“Once again, we’re sorry – and want you to know that we’re here to help.”

A statement from Vodafone UK, which acts as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) for Mobile by Sainsbury’s, confirmed the joint venture was coming to an end.

It said: “We regret that Mobile by Sainsbury’s – a joint venture between Sainsbury’s and Vodafone UK – offering a mobile phone service to Sainsbury’s customers is ending and the service will no longer be available from 15 January 2016.

'Inconvenienced'

“Mobile by Sainsbury’s priority now is to help its customers and make sure they are inconvenienced as little as possible.”

Earlier this year, Cable.co.uk reported that Vodafone had denied claims that it was planning to exit the UK MVNO market.

An MVNO is a mobile provider that effectively piggybacks on an operator’s network to provide services to its customers.

In submissions to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about the potential merger of BT and EE , TalkTalk said it understood that Vodafone was in the process of “withdrawing entirely from the MVNO market”.

But Vodafone had said: “We have no plans to exit the UK MVNO market”, adding that a decision to terminate an agreement with TalkTalk was not made by Vodafone.

At the time the compay said: “TalkTalk announced an MVNO deal with O2 and we continue to provide MVNO services to Sainsbury’s and Talk Mobile.”

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