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'Depth and complexity' of Sky Mobile will make things easier for customers

Friday, December 2nd 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Sky has built a mobile network with “depth and complexity” in the two years since signing an MVNO agreement with O2, a Sky director has said.

Sky Mobile launched earlier this week with a promise to “shake up the market” with features such as Roll, which lets users keep their unused data in an online ‘piggybank’ for up to three years.

The service, which will be available to existing Sky customers from mid-December, will also allow customers to change their mobile plan each month through the Mix feature.

Sky agreed a deal with O2 to use its mobile network in early 2015, so this week’s launch has been a long time coming.

Vince Russell, Sky’s director of converged products, said the time has been well spent.

“We signed the deal last January and so it’s taken just under two years,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“But if you look at the depth and complexity of the mobile network we’ve built, we’ve done an amazing amount in that period of time.”

Sky has more control over its network than any other MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) in the UK, Mr Russell said.

“We own it from the network through to the customer service agents. That gives us great ability to manage the customer service, to make sure we deliver on that service promise.

“But also that allows us to set the rules around how our plans are created. That’s how we’ve been able to create things like Roll and Mix, and create that flexibility, because we own the whole thing end-to-end.”

'Bewildering array of tariffs'

He said Sky Mobile is also in a great position to introduce new technologies such as voice over wi-fi, which let’s you make calls over an internet connection in areas with no mobile coverage.

Mr Russell said the focus for Sky has been on creating simple plans and a flexible service for customers.

“Through building all of the ways that people get to manage their mobile account, we’ve tried to make all the things they might likely want to do as simple as possible online,” he said.

“In all the research and conversations we’ve had with customers, the one thing that comes through loud and clear is the bewildering array of tariffs that people have to navigate.

“With the SIM-only we’ve created a very simple, transparent, easy set of plans, you just choose your data plan and add your choice of calls and text – and we’ll bring that same degree of simplicity and transparency with our handset launch in the spring of next year.”

Kysha Gibson, director in telecoms and media at consultancy firm Baringa Partners, isn’t surprised that Sky’s mobile offering will initially deliver the greatest benefits for its existing customers.

“We should expect Sky to follow the model it used when entering the broadband market of leveraging its existing TV customer base first," she said.

“This has shown itself to be a winning formula. The main advantage is that Sky already understands its current customers’ lifestyles, interest, content usage and spending potential, meaning it can develop tailored mobile products.

“Sky’s decision to not to go down the integrated quad-play bill route also shows an understanding that many customers like separate bills, especially given each household is likely to have multiple mobile accounts.”

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