On Wednesday Orange announced a simple new single tariff range for all its new contract users. Although there are some benefits to both consumers and Orange of tariff simplification, the main impact appears to be to increase the price of calls for off-peak users, which is a sensible strategy for Orange and consistent with other tariff increases we have seen recently. Orange may lose customers because of this, but it has helpfully given four weeks warning of the change to the other operators, who may react with changes of their own.
Weak economic growth is usually blamed, but we believe that other forms of communication are substituting for fixed voice calls. Substitution of fixed line calls by calls from mobile phones is increasingly less important. By contrast, our conclusion is that Internet-based communication (email and instant messaging) has recently become a far more important source of competition to fixed line voice calls.