Internet service provider TalkTalk has announced it is entering the mobile phone market, launching itself yesterday as a 'mobile virtual network operator' (MVNO) providing budget tariffs aimed at occasional users with basic needs.
The simplified price plans are categorised as 'small', 'medium', and 'large', and start at £5 a month for 100 minutes, 250 texts, and 100MB of data for two years. It's not a lot, of course - you'll practically eat up your allowance just turning your device on and off every day – but customers who sign-up via the web get their data allowance doubled for free. That makes for 200MB total on the cheapest bundle, an amount that's just about feasible if your mobile Internet usage is restricted to a couple of Google Maps every now and then.
Rounding out the modest, entry-level package, subscribers also get a Samsung Galaxy Y thrown at no cost, enabling casual callers who may still be deploying feature phones to get a suped-up device – it might seem like a pre-historic handset to the kids, but it's certainly one way to get mum and dad to ditch their Nokia bricks and join the smartphone revolution.
"We want to do in mobile what we did in broadband and that's to bring greater competition and choice and offer the best value to our customers," said Tristia Clarke, Commercial Director of Talk Talk.
Not everyone is sold on the deal, however, and TalkTalk's boasting of its ultra-competitive broadband pricing could backfire: the cut-price ISP was shamed by Ofcom as one of the UK's worst ISPs earlier in the year.
In addition, the Galaxy Y runs the old generation Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, features a single-core832MHz processor, and a 2-megapixel camera, sounding more than a bit rubbish on paper these days.
"This is a [rubbish] deal just to get an £89 phone – if you can't afford £89 upfront, then you'd be better off on PAYG," wrote GCday in the Guardian's comment section.
Not just that, but if the user goes over the bundle deal, the extra costs are high: calls are 30p a minute and 5p per MB of data. It's all liable to add up pretty quickly, in our opinion, and it's not like good mobile deals are in short supply.
"Looks designed to drag parents in unwittingly to something that looks affordable but quickly racks up huge data costs. 100MB per month = 3.5M per day. On some web sites such as this one that means loading 6 web pages," mrimpossible added.
The 'medium' bundle, though, sounds like a decent proposition for on-the-go web surfers: 300 minutes, 3000 texts, and 500MB doubled up to 1GB when signming up online. However, a final gripe exists in that TalkTalk Mobile, as the company's new arm has been dubbed, is only making the super cheap plans available to existing customers.
In other words, average people desperate to rack up astronomical extra charges browsing Facebook on a geriatric handset can't do so unless they're a TalkTalk customer.