I was amused by a comment made by the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones when reviewing new products, including 3-D handsets at the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona today. I couldn’t capture the exact phrasing, but the essence was ‘[although there are all these innovative products] for many users a good 3G data signal would be really good.’ As one who frequently finds gaps in coverage when travelling around southern England, I hope the operators were listening.
In my earlier blog, Bill Shock, I recounted the story of a young woman who had been treated to a bill of £27,000 after losing her phone overnight. This prompted me to look at the relationship between price and usage.
Data on cost and usage of international roaming traffic, especially data traffic, is not widely available, but that for domestic traffic is more readily available. Prices and usage for domestic mobile calls vary considerably between countries, which permit comparison of any relationships between the two. Continue reading “Price Sensitivity and Bill Shock”
Every now and again a new story about international roaming charges comes to my attention. Recently I could not help overhearing some English people in a restaurant talking about the experience one of their daughters had following loss of her phone. Seemingly the daughter had been travelling in Spain and had taken an overnight bus to a new destination. After she had set out, she found she didn’t have her phone with her. She thought that she had probably packed it in her rucksack by mistake (it has been with several items she did pack) and as it would have been very difficult to get to the bag while travelling left it at that and fell asleep. The next morning she found that her phone was indeed missing and duly reported it to her network operator. Under their rules, the same as those applied by most operators, she was liable for any calls made before she reported its loss. This turned out to be some £27,000. At that price presumably this was for data download, rather than voice. Unfortunately I didn’t hear then end of the story as I was interrupted by the waiter at that point, so I don’t know if the operator did the honourable thing and waived the bill or not. I also don’t know when it occurred; the people recounting the tale were speaking as if it was recent, but they were doing so some months after the EC mandatory limit on bills for data downloads were introduced. Continue reading “Bill Shock”
O2 has signalled the end of flat rate data charging in Europe, following AT&T’s recent announcement of the same policy in the US. The rapid growth in mobile data traffic and the high cost of building new network infrastructure make the end of flat rate charging inevitable. It was really a question of who would move first. The alternative, which I still expect to happen, but perhaps to a lesser extent that I previously thought would be more network mergers on the lines of the Uk Orange – T-Mobile merger. Expect others to follow O2’s example.
Ofcom has announced lower mobile termination rates (MTRs) than expected. In fact significantly lower by the end of the five year period, down from 4.3p to 0.5p per minute.
Doubtless the major mobile operators will protest, as it will effectively reduce their income. Under the current system they derive net income from smaller players, fixed network operators, and call charges to their customers. Smaller players such as 3, which has been campaigning for lower charges, will welcome it, as MTRs represent a significant net cost to their businesses. Continue reading “Mobile Termination Rates”