Operator ditches devices on business deals as part of a move to help them better adopt data-centric services
O2 business director Ben Dowd has confirmed it has begun phasing out the sale of feature phone handsets on its business contracts.
The move is part of O2’s strategy to help reduce the “digital divide” in businesses, and helping them adopt data-centric services such as social media, email on the move and implement flexible working. The move will not affect consumer.
“If you look at the handsets that we range going forward, in business we will not be ranging feature phones,” Dowd (pictured) explained. “We’ve got a reasonable base of feature phones like every operator, but the reality is you can now buy 4G devices for well under £100 and therefore the opportunity is to move them to 4G. It’s more efficient for us and for them. That’s what we are doing right now.”
Dowd was coy on the size of the opportunity, stating between five and 20 per cent of its base (he wouldn’t give the exact figure) were still feature phone users – a sizeable number of which are in the public sector. He noted a recent O2 survey which revealed twice as many staff in the public sector regarded themselves as “digitally hopeless” compared with those working in the private sector.
“The public sector has a disproportionate amount of feature phone users,”said Dowd. “What we are trying to do is to make that process really slick and work out how we make their lives easier.”
Down to customer choice
“Most of those customers will be coming up for renewal and that’s the opportunity to have a conversation around benefits of using a smartphone and using data,” he said. “We are very much trying to take the approach that every connection going on to our base going forward will be 4G.”
However, Dowd has ruled out the possibility of adopting the same strategy as EE last year by removing new 2G and 3G connections from its business.
He insists it’s all about choice and while in future he envisions an entirely 4G base, for now its down to customer choice.
“When we talk about network modernisation, that covers 2G, 3G and 4G. EE might think its all about 4G but it’s not all about 4G.
“I don’t think its right to go down the route with a customer and try and force them onto something. What you have to be able to do is sell the benefits.”