Mobile Telecoms Industry In Scotland
Telecommunications across Scotland and the UK has changed over the years. However, it is something that has slowly changed and is fairly equal across the British Isles. Since the industry was privatised by the UK Government in 1984 it has remained centralised and doesn’t vary much when you move into the different regions. British Telecoms, despite privatisation, is still the main provider of fixed telephone lines and they still have a Universal Service Obligation to British consumers and businesses which is overseen by Ofcom. This website will update you on telecom industry advancements.
Something that has changed a lot since privatisation however is the increase in use of mobile phones. The changes in technology and also the way in which people work has meant that a lot of businesses now give their employees mobile phones – and this is true of industries in the private, public and charity sectors. Typical employees who require mobile phones will be sales people, facilities managers and community care providers who do not have a set physical location.
We have several clients who we manage mobile telecoms costs for. An example case study for one of these clients is The Raeburn Group, a company based just south of Glasgow. In this case study, we analysed the data and produced a call profile for each handset. Whilst this did take a lot of work, we recommend it. For it, we compiled data on each handset for all calls made, how long the calls were, what kind of calls they were (for example: international, voicemail or landline) and how much of the company bill that handset was costing. From there we could identify the highest costing handsets and which ones were not being used very often. We were then able to address if that particular employee really required a mobile phone or if it was just an expense to the business. Comparing the amount of data and the costs also allows businesses to identify if anything doesn’t look right and if billing may be incorrect.
However, the UK can still be extremely unequal when it comes to phone signal and some rural areas of Scotland have drawn a short straw. This does mean that businesses that have staff working in these areas will be limited in which provider they can choose and whilst phone signal is usually okay (you may have to go outdoors to make a phone call) it is a lack of 3G people tend to complain about. Each network usually has coverage maps on their website for businesses and consumers to check and there are comparison sites for this purpose. One example of a comparison site is OpenSignal and you can see from their UK map that generally cities receive strong signals whilst rural areas are patchy. The map shows that rural areas in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, the border area between England and Scotland, northern Wales and parts of Northern Ireland have some of the weakest signals across the British Isles.
It’s also important to note some of the legal issues that businesses need to adhere to. When a business issues a company mobile to an employee they need to read through the HMRC pages regarding them. If a manager covers the mobile phone costs of an employee then they’ll need to ensure that the correct tax and national insurance contributions are paid.
However, another important point about the mobile phone industry is the policy controlled by the European Union. In 2007 it was announced roaming charges would eventually be eradicated by EU law (with some telecoms providers removing them early) and the European Commission plans to have all national and roaming tariffs at the same rate by 2015.
Since privatisation over 20 years ago, the introduction of mobile phones has changed the way a lot of employees work. As mentioned it is a British industry and, as we found out on the 19th of September, it will continue to be. However we may need to see how the increase in devolved power might affect the telecommunication industry. For now however, one of the most effective ways for organisations – in Scotland and the rest of the UK – to manage their mobile costs is by keeping a close eye on their data to see if some costs don’t add up.
Written by Morag Lee. Morag currently writes for Business Cost Consultants, an independent utility consultancy which manages the energy, water and telecoms costs of their clients. She also runs her own lifestyle blog and her interests include eating out, baking, netball and the Android phone system.