Orange and T-Mobile are set to disappear from our high streets as their parent company Everything Everywhere converts all of its 700-odd UK phone shops to its-- to sell us all on its supposedly super-speedy 4G service. But does that mean Orange and T-Mobile will cease to exist? And what will happen to treasured perks such as Orange Wednesday?
Orange is quick to reassure me: "Everything you love about Orange will stay exactly the same including Orange Wednesdays. Your number and price plan won't change, and you can still get in touch in the usual ways.
"As an Orange or T-Mobile customer you'll now use EE's new 3G network, the biggest in the UK, so soon you'll start to see 'EE' on your phone or device screen," the company says. "When EE launches, we'll make it easy and straightforward for eligible Orange and T-Mobile customers to move to EE."
But the removal of Orange and T-Mobile from the high street -- and the top of your phone screen -- will massively reduce their visibility compared to rivals O2 and Vodafone. It seems inevitable that this is the first step in phasing out those brands completely.
The orange and pink networks have spent countless millions on advertising over the last decade and more to become among the most recognisable companies in Britain. It would seem a huge waste to just wind them up and make up something new, especially when the alternative is as silly as 'EE'. Everything Everywhere must be very confident that it has enough of a customer base -- and a huge advantage in being the first to offer 4G.
I've been on Orange for years, for the sole reason that I can get two-for-one tickets at Cineworld and Odeon on a Wednesday night. (There's no way I've used the offer often enough to justify being on an expensive network for that long, but that's inertia for you.) Do I want to give that up and move over to EE for a 4G signal my current phone can't use? No.
But next year is a different matter. I'll be ready for a new phone and I'll want it to be 4G,. By then all the UK networks will offer 4G, but it seems likely that if I want super-fast data on my current deal I'll have to transfer to EE.
Orange is rather elderly for a mobile company. It started out in the early 90s as a joint venture between British Aerospace (!) and a bunch of international telecom companies, launching as a UK phone brand in 1994 with the memorable slogan, "The future's bright. The future's Orange." It was shuffled between Hutchison (which now owns Three) and Vodafone until it ended up with France Telecom in 2000. Orange Wednesdays launched in 2003, and two years ago its UK arm hooked up with T-Mo's Brit business to make EE.
There is one potential benefit to the demise of the venerable Orange, however: we won't have to put up with celebrity gurning, no patronising 'turn off your phone' message, no putting up with the same ad week after soul-sapping week -- I can only hope.any more. No
What do you think? Is the future bright for EE? Are you worried about losing your mid-week movie deal? Or is 4G way more EExciting? Talk about anything, anywhere in the comments below, or over on our super-fast Facebook page.