In the U.K., TalkTalk Mobile, the new MVNO from ISP TalkTalk, is launching with a suite of three free-device Smartphone plans (called Small, Medium, and Large), and is heavily promoting the lowest-end of these as a “revolution” by virtue of its extremely low cost of £5 per month. These plans are available only to TalkTalk’s fixed line subscribers.
While this offer may function as an attention-grabber, outside of being a public relations ploy we fail to see how it can have much value either for consumers or for TalkTalk. The £5 plan has such low monthly allowances of calling minutes (100), texts (250), and especially data (100 MB) that it is hard to imagine it appealing to any users, except perhaps as a first-time plan that parents could buy for young children. Even then, the data allowance is so limited that it would effectively render any Smartphone a “dumb phone.” And in the event a subscriber was to go over the included allowances, the costs would rise quickly and significantly. Moreover, the Medium and Large plans, while they offer viable allowances (up to 2 GB of data, which can be doubled to 4 GB if customers sign up online), are quite unexceptional and in our view endow TalkTalk with no real distinctiveness with regard to competitors.
In a climate of saturation and intense competition, providers will inevitably try just about anything to set themselves apart and garner attention – including, at times, offers such as this one that border on the nonsensical.