Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mobile Broadband data allowances double in 12 months

Mobile Broadband user allowances have doubled over the last 12 month period, to reach an average of 3.9GB, up from 1.8GB a year ago.

A new report published by Tariff Consultancy Ltd called Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009 highlights the growing importance of Mobile Broadband services in Europe.

Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009 – an analysis of current Mobile Broadband* pricing in 33 countries across Eastern and Western Europe - details the continued overall decline in price levels over the past year together with the spread of larger user allowance packages with flat rate pricing that is transforming the growth prospects for a number of mobile operators.

The main findings from the report include:

  • Mobile Broadband flat rate bundles are now the norm across Europe and are the most common form of price package

  • The average flat rate package bundle provided has doubled over the last 12 months to almost 4GB (based on the analysis of 100 mobile operators)

  • The most common monthly user allowance price point on offer across Europe is now 5GB and 10GB, closely followed by 1GB and 500MB allowances

  • There are at least 20 mobile operators across all countries which are now offering an 'unlimited' user allowance for their Mobile Broadband service

  • Pricing in 2008 has fallen by an average of 4% across all countries when compared with the previous year – even though average user allowances have more than doubled

  • 80 per cent of Mobile Broadband operators in Europe charge a Per MB out of monthly allowance – for national traffic - with charges ranging up to 3.27 euro per MB although typical rates are between 10 and 20 euro cents.

  • Average Mobile Broadband prices have fallen by as much as 53%, 43% and 35% in Latvia, Austria and the UK respectively over the past year.

  • In Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Spain average Mobile Broadband prices are now significantly lower than the most popular fixed line DSL Broadband service, which is driving customers to the mobile Broadband offer.

  • New offerings include: Prepaid; Per day, Per week, monthly with an 'off-peak' or time-limited tariff.

Commenting on the research findings, Tariff Consultancy Ltd Managing Director Margrit Sessions said, "Although Mobile Broadband pricing has continued to decline overall, the most striking feature has been the continued increase in monthly user allowances which have more than doubled in the course of a year."

With more mobile operators deploying HSDPA networks – capable of supporting downloads of up to 7.2MB – the increase in flat rate packages is likely to continue.

"Mobile operators have to ensure that they provision the network capacity to meet the demand that flat rate pricing will create and also safeguard against over-selling their service," continued Margrit Sessions.

Although subscriber number growth is driven by larger flat rate Mobile Broadband packages, it is clear that mobile operators will face a number of challenges if they are to translate user growth to profitability.

"The key to long-term success is for the Mobile Broadband operator to develop a segmented approach to its offer with the emphasis on improving its network coverage (for example by offering a Wi-Fi bundle as well) together with a more transparent pricing scheme," concludes Margrit Sessions.

*(defined as being download access speeds in excess of 384KB)

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