Thursday, December 4, 2008

Even more competitive mobile broadband pricing in 2009

UK ISPs will tomorrow implement a voluntary Code of Practice designed to stop them misleading customers over broadband speeds and improve customer service. They will act the day after telecoms watchdog Ofcom published still-to-be-defined proposals for enforcing consumer protection policies that punish mis-selling and help customers switch broadband providers. More than 40 ISPs including Be, BT, Demon, Pipex, Plusnet, Sky, Tiscali and Virgin Media, have agreed to provide more accurate estimates about achievable data speeds in their promotional material, following widespread complaints about slower-than-advertised bandwidth in the past.

Ofcom's draft annual plan for 2009/10 will also examine the mobile broadband market, with a view to deregulating controls in the hope that competition amongst mobile operators will bring per-megabyte prices down further. The European Commission is already piling considerable pressure onto mobile network operators to reduce prices, which - combined with an expansion in the number of mobile virtual network operators - means the mobile broadband market is closer to reaching the level of competitiveness that Ofcom requires if it is to deregulate.

"If [mobile broadband] price points get to the stage where mobile operators are no longer perceived as an oligopoly acting in a cartel fashion, providers could be allowed to set their own prices more freely and competition would settle the rest in much the same way as it has in the fixed telecom world," said Scott Morrisson, research vice president at analyst Gartner.

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