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EE unveils new 4G Mobile Broadband Devices, Tablet en Revised Plans

22 May

Given EE’s massive head start over the competition, its 4G network is coming on leaps and bounds. And today, EE has announced new mobile broadband tariffs, released three new 4G mobile broadband devices, plus a new own-brand tablet.

EE’s 4G coverage now covers 2,588 villages and small towns around the UK (many with populations of well under 10,000 – such as Silverburn in Scotland with just 65 people), following the second phase of its roll out. Meanwhile, the current ‘Double Speed’ network is being doubled in size to 40 towns and cities by the end of 2014.

Coverage is also a priority on areas of high-usage, such as airports, roads, railway lines and stations. EE announced that it has 47 major train stations covered, and 22 of the busiest airports. Coverage of the M25 London Orbital motorway and the M62 exceeds 80%.

EE is now connecting more people to 4G plans than 3G on its ‘legacy’ Orange and T-Mobile brands. Data usage is now up 66% as people watch more television and video, and other data intensive tasks, on the move.

New Mobile Broadband devices

EE already offers both dongles and portable hotspot (‘MiFi’) devices, but today it has announced three new products:

In-car Wi-Fi
Osprey: In-car Wi-Fi

Buzzard (£49.99 on PAYG and cheaper on contract) is an in-car device that connects to any 12v cigarette lighter socket, sharing a data connection with up to ten devices. It comes with a storage container designed to sit in a cup holder.

Osprey
Osprey

Kite (£69.99 on PAYG and cheaper on contract) is a more traditional portable hotspot, while Osprey is a more rugged and colourful device selling for £49.99 on PAYG (and cheaper on contract).

Eagle - 4G enabled tablet (made by Huawei)
Eagle: 4G enabled tablet (made by Huawei)

There’s a new tablet too, a rebadged Huawei unit called Eagle, available for £199 on PAYG or £49.99 on a two-year contract with a monthly plan of £15 or above.

New Mobile Broadband tariffs

EE

EE Extra 
More data and double-speed 4G

Data allowance**

1GB

3GB

15GB

25GB

50GB

24 Month

£10

£15

£20

£30

£50

1 Month

£10

£15

£20

£30

** Depending on 4G WiFi device chosen

Add-ons:

  • 100MB – £1
  • 1GB – £5
  • 10GB – £15

Video (via Recombu.com)


Original Press Release

LONDON 21 May, 2014 – EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, today unveiled the next phase of its world class 4G service, including rapid network expansion andthe launch of new 4G plans and devices. The company will dramatically improve accessibility of superfast mobile internet across the UK, and set a new benchmark for the 4G user experience.

The move comes as EE 4G customer numbers hit 3.6 million and sales of EE 4G plans outstrip 3G for the first time, representing a tipping point for the business. 4G is rapidly changing mobile behaviour, with customers increasing their data usage by 66% in a year – watching more television and video, working, banking and shopping on the go.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said: “With more experience of 4G than any other UK operator, we have unique insight into how the technology is changing behaviour. Our mobile devices have effectively become mini TVs with video traffic already making up over half the data on our 4G network.

“We’re committed to remaining one step ahead – adapting our network to make 4G available where it matters most, with a focus on more rural areas, transport links and offering our customers the best network experience and great value, innovative devices and plans.”

RAPID NETWORK EXPANSION

EE is accelerating network rollout in rural areas and ontransport routes, as well doubling the footprint of its uniquedouble speed network, meeting the growing demand for consistently fast speeds across the busiest areas of the UK.

1.     Rural revolution: EE completes second phase of rural roll out

EE is bringing the UK’s fastest network to 2,588 villages and small towns with populations under 10,000, including many rural areas. From Silverburn in Scotland with less than 65 people, to Aberdulais in South Wales with 500, more than three million people in rural areas now have access to a mobile network to rival the UK’s largest cities.

Businesses and residents in many of those rural areas of the UK will now have access to high speed internet in the home or office for the first time, with 4G speeds often faster than the fixed line connection they previously depended on.

2.      4G in the fast lane

In addition to residential zones, EE is focusing on areas of high usage, including airports, roads, and train lines and stations. 47 major train stations and 22 of the busiest airports, from Bournemouth to Aberdeen, are now 4G-enabled, along with upwards of 50% 4G coverage on 50 of the busiest motorways and A-roads. Coverage of major roads in more built up areas, such as the M25 and M62 is greater than 80%.

The ongoing investment forms part of EE’s plan to offer a superfast digital network in the places customers want it the most, recognising the increasing need for a reliable, high-speed data connection on the move to support in-car navigation and passenger data usage.

By enhancing the 4G network on the busiest roads in the UK, EE will allow business customers to remain productive on the move. A programme is in place to cover the busiest motorway service stations, completing the connected journey.

3.       Extending EE’s unique double speed 4G network

EE will double the footprint of its unique, high capacity network to 40 towns and cities by the end of the year, allowing millions more customers to enjoy the UK’s fastest speeds, and targeting the parts of the country where data usage is showing the quickest growth.

EE’s double speed network ensures that its customers are guaranteed the best mobile experience, whether that’s downloading large files, uploading images or streaming video.

REDEFINING THE 4G WiFi MARKET

From 28 May, EE is introducing a range of EE-branded 4G broadband devices and plans, designed to take advantage of EE’s double speed network. Available on pay as you go (PAYG) and consumer and business pay monthly plans, the devices include:

·         The UK’s first 4G car WiFi – the ‘Buzzard’ is the first in a series of superfast in-car devices available direct from EE. The simple and affordable plug-and-play device (only £49.99 on PAYG) will enable any car with a 12v connection to instantly become a 4G WiFi hotspot for up to 10 connections, and avoid the need for expensive in-built solutions. It also comes in a unique storage container designed to sit conveniently in a cup holder.

·         Superfast 4G for work and play – EE is introducing two new 4G WiFi devices optimised for EE’s double speed 4G network. For busy professionals a new sleek pocket-sized premium   device called the ‘Kite’* (£69.99 on PAYG); and for a younger audience, the UK’s most affordable 4G WiFi unit – the colourful and rugged ‘Osprey’ (only £49.99 on PAYG).

·         The UK’s most affordable 4G tablet – with the ‘Eagle’, an Android tablet offering specifications and features traditionally associated with more expensive devices for just £199 on PAYG or £49.99 on 24 month pay monthly plans of £15 and above.

In support of the new devices, EE is also introducing the UK’s best value set of 4G WiFi plans. A new range of 24 and one month plans will be available, offering a variety of data allowances for unparalleled value and choice. New plans for small businesses will also be available.

The Buzzard, Kite and Osprey will be available on EE’s Shared plans, as well as the new 4G WiFi pay monthly plans, and are free on 24-month plans of £15-per-month and over.

THE BEST 4G EXPERIENCE

Video usage on the EE network has risen significantly in recent months, and early findings from EE’s latest Mobile Living Index[i] reveal that the video experience is now as important as making calls and web surfing for 4G customers. Video and TV are expected to increase data traffic 1100% in the next four years, and will be more than two thirds of data on the network by 2018.

To meet growing customer expectations, EE is putting the video experience at the heart of its network plans, ensuring content owners can give customers a reliable, high-quality, user experience.

On the 20th May, Minister Ed Vaizey announced the launch of the Mobile Video Alliance (MVA), founded by EE and run by the Digital TV Group (DTG), which represents the UK’s broadcast industry. The MVA connects broadcasters and content owners with mobile operators for the first time to create the best possible experience of mobile video apps. Broadcasters have mastered content delivery in the home, to the web, and now they’re focusing on the third axis – mobile platforms.

EE has also embarked on a programme for selected video and TV content owners, who desire an optimum user experience for their customers over EE’s 4G network. For example, work with the BBC iPlayer team has already seen significant improvements for their customers on the speed of programme load times.

For more information on the new plans and devices, please visit: ee.co.uk/campaigns/ee/mobile-broadband-launch-may-2014

For more information on EE’s network roll-out, please visit:ee.co.uk/ee-and-me/network/locations

Source: http://jmcomms.com/2014/05/21/ee-unveils-new-4g-mobile-broadband-devices-tablet-and-revised-plans/

Could mobile operators become the prime real estate landlords for the digital economy?

27 Jan

Finally it is here: The mobile data equivalent of toll-free numbers. Last week AT&T unveiled a “Sponsored Data service”, meaning that their customers are able to use participating services without eating in to their data allowance. AT&T will treat Sponsored Data traffic no differently to regular data traffic, thus providing digital retailers and OTT service providers with an efficient way to communicate and trade with their customers.

Coleago has long argued that with the growth in the digital economy, sellers of physical and digital goods and services are looking for the mobile data equivalent of a toll-free number. In the past many businesses encouraged consumers to trade with them over the phone by publishing toll-free numbers. The growth of online shopping with mobile devices provides impetus for extending the concept to mobile data. The message from retailers to consumers is “it does not cost you anything to visit our digital store”.

The good news for mobile operators is that this provides an additional revenue stream. But the concept could be taken further. In Europe, North America and other markets where most people purchase their smartphone from mobile operators, these operators can control what consumers see on the screen of their new smartphone when they take it out of the box and switch it on. A smartphone screen provides the digital real estate for sponsored apps.  Apps placed on the home screen would be the most valuable, and the giants of ecommerce such as Amazon may have the scale to pay to have their app on the home screen. EBay, travel and financial sites and many other e-tailers may also be interested in sponsoring apps placed on subsequent screens.

Of course users can delete and move smartphone apps. However, judging by how many people do not bother or do not understand how to change their browser home page, it is likely that many of the preloaded apps will stay where they were first placed. This effectively means that mobile operators become landlords in the digital economy.

 

Source: http://coleago.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/could-mobile-operators-become-the-prime-real-estate-landlords-for-the-digital-economy/

Smartphone plans across major US carriers – A Comparison

26 Jun

The intent of this article is to elucidate various cellphone plans offered by the 4 major mobile operators in USA – Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. It will help American residents in analyzing various carrier plans. Readers in other countries will be able to comprehend the cost of wireless services for US subscribers. Plan pricing and details are latest as of this writing and subject to variation in different parts of the country. These are monthly tariffs with taxes and fees not included.

Post-paid users account for more than two-thirds of US mobile subscriber base, so let us start with monthly bill plans.

Smartphone plans - Table 1

One notices that there is only little cost difference between the plans of two biggest operators, Verizon and AT&T. However, there are other factors too that affect a new customers’ decision. Device availability could play a role. Coverage and network quality is best in Verizon, but AT&T’s LTE and 3G network is generally rated faster wherever it exists. Another comparison parameter used to be the ability to swap SIM cards in GSM phones. That is why it was a good idea to use a GSM service like AT&T if the subscriber traveled internationally, but that difference is fading away now. Latest phones from Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers have built-in SIM card slots in Verizon and Sprint models. Customer service is also a differentiating factor. My personal experience with AT&T and prior to that with T-Mobile was generally satisfactory.

Although behind on LTE deployment, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile offer very competitive and simpler plans. Given the way their tariff model works, Sprint looks good for individuals but expensive for families. Unlimited no-tier data has been the operators’ USP.  T-Mobile has recently started offering no contract plans. That brings flexibility but not much financial gain for the customer.  However, T-Mobile is the best value for money if you bring your own device.

AT&T Wireless and Sprint Nextel also have individual and family plans for new subscribers. As discussed earlier, Sprint’s unlimited data plans are cheaper for individuals. Adding extra line is more cost-effective with AT&T whereas Sprint offers a better value for money for a family of two.

Smartphone plans - Table 2

Smartphone plans - Table 3

Now let us briefly discuss the uncomplicated and hassle free prepaid plans. About a third of US subscribers are using prepaid services. Nowadays, all 4 carriers offer pay as you go plans with unlimited talk and text and following is their pricing structure –

Verizon Wireless: 2 GB data – $60, 4 GB data – $70

AT&T Wireless: 2 GB data – $60, 4 GB data – $80

Sprint Nextel: Unlimited data – $70

T-Mobile: 500 MB data – $50, 2.5 GB data – $60, Unlimited – $70

Above analysis only looks at smartphone plans, since that is the direction in which the whole industry is moving. Smaller or regional carriers may have lower prices, but it just wasn’t practical to discuss all of them in a single article. While tariffs charged by service providers in other countries have not been listed here, it is widely believed that US subscribers pay higher for mobile phones services as compared to most of the world. In return, they get a service quality (coverage and capacity) which is among the best in the world.

Source: http://wirelesstelecom.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/smartphone-plans-across-major-us-carriers-a-comparison-2/?goback=%2Egmp_136744%2Egde_136744_member_252863294

Thinking about upgrading to a 4G phone? Prepare to pay more. Before you know it, those 2-gigabyte data caps your carrier put in place just aren’t going to cut it.

9 Feb

The average American will use 6.2 GB of data on their mobile devices each month in 2017, according to the latest annual Visual Networking Index released by Cisco (CSCO,Fortune 500). To put that into context, Americans used just 752 MB Americans on average last year.

Cisco is predicting that smartphone networks will get faster and faster. But you pay more as a result.

If data plans stay the same five years down the road, the average user’s smartphone bill could grow by $40 a month.

The wide-spread roll-out of 4G, the lightning-fast wireless networks that all four of the major carriers are in the process of deploying across the country, is expected to be the main culprit. 4G is capable of speeds comparable to your home broadband service, and it’sroughly 10 times faster than 3G. By 2017, Cisco predicts that the average smartphone connection speed will grow more than three-fold.

The faster the connection, the more stuff people consume on their mobile devices — particularly large video files, which will be the primary driver behind the download explosion, Cisco says. Streaming video services such as Netflix (NFLX), Hulu and Google(GOOGFortune 500)-owned YouTube are expected make up two-thirds of downloads in five years.

Related story: Video and mobile are breaking the Internet

The number of 4G devices is relatively small now. Just 1% of devices were connected to 4G networks last year — but those smartphones and tablets accounted for 14% of global mobile traffic. By 2017, Cisco estimates that 10% of the world’s devices will have 4G connections, and they will make up almost half of all traffic.

Clearly, people who have (or plan to buy) 4G-capable phones will download like crazy. That has vast implications for wireless carriers — and your wallet.

Today’s mobile-data-per-user average sits just below the entry-level 1 GB data tier thatVerizon (VZFortune 500) has put in place and well under the 3 GB tier that AT&T (T,Fortune 500) offers. But if Cisco is right that we’ll all be consuming 6.2 GB-per-month on average in five years, those same Verizon or AT&T customers would have to pay $40 a month more in their cell phone bills to cover all that data.

Related story: Why your cell phone bill is going up

The companies haven’t exactly been shy about stating the rationale behind switching to tiered and shared data plans. As customers rack up more and more gigabytes on their 4G devices, they pay more.

But if those plans don’t change, carriers with data caps or tiers are going to have a revolt on their hands. For the time being, Sprint (SFortune 500) and T-Mobile continue to offer unlimited data service for mobile customers

“As you have more people using bandwidth-intensive applications on the networks, carriers are putting data caps in place,” said Thomas Barnett, manager of Cisco’s Visual Networking Index team. “But carriers will need to evolve their tiers for cell service to remain affordable — while still getting those top users reined in.”

AT&T and Verizon declined to comment on whether they’d consider raising their tiers as average use ticks higher in the future.

But those tiers have clearly been very effective. American mobile customers offloaded half of their traffic to Wi-Fi networks last year. In other words, the prospect of paying more has forced customers to think twice about when they need to use a 3G or 4G network.

By 2017, Cisco forecasts that 66% of smartphone and tablet traffic will be over Wi-Fi. So that may be a way for consumers to keep watching Netflix on their phone or tablet without paying an arm and a leg to their carrier. To top of page

Source: http://money.cnn.com/2013/02/05/technology/mobile/smartphone-4g/index.html

T-Mobile’s next steps: no-contract unlimited 4G, free 4G for laptops and tablets, and HD Voice calls

9 Jan

T-Mobile’s next steps: no-contract unlimited 4G, free 4G for laptops and tablets, and HD Voice calls

T-Mobile just unleashed a flurry of news at CES: The company’s popular Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan is going contract free tomorrow, it’s launching a new program to bring 4G wireless to laptops and tablets, and it’s also the first U.S. carrier to launch HD Voice for clear calls.

Oh, and it has also partnered with Major League Baseball to power a new on-field communication system. Whew.

First launched last September, T-Mobile says its Unlimited Nationwide 4G data plan has been a smashing success, attracting nearly 46 percent of new subscribers last month. Starting tomorrow, T-Mobile is going to make the plan even more appealing by offering it for $70 a month with no contract.

Such a move could help T-Mobile stand apart from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have both moved away from unlimited plans. But it’s hard to say if it will be enough to stem T-Mobile’s subscriber bleed. T-Mobile remains the only U.S. carrier without the iPhone, which has led to some dismal earnings for the last several quarters.

T-Mobile is also launching “4G Connect,” an effort to equip more laptops and tablets with 4G access. The program will kick off on a few Windows 8 laptops and Ultrabooks, including the Dell Inspiron 14z and HP Pavilion dm1. The amount of free data on every device will vary, but T-Mobile says you’ll be able ot get up to 200 megabytes of free monthly 4G service when you pick up on of the 4G Connect computers. For additional data, you can choose from any of the carrier’s monthly plans.

HD Voice, which offers a significant improvement on call quality, has been flipped on for T-Mobile’s network today, the carrier announced. You’ll need a compatible 4G smartphone to take advantage of HD Voice, and it’ll only work with other HD Voice capable T-Mobile subscribers for now. But it’s still a major get for T-Mobile. For all of its competitors LTE network advancements, call quality hasn’t improved much.

T-Mobile also said that it has launched support for 1900 megahertz spectrum in Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Virginia Beach, which will allow unlocked iPhone owners to utilize the full speed of its network. The carrier now supports the iPhone-ready spectrum in 46 metro areas.

When it comes to its own LTE network, T-Mobile plans to kick off its coverage with Las Vegas in the next few weeks, the Verge reports. The carrier plans to cover more than 100 million people with its LTE network by the middle of the year.

Source: http://venturebeat.com/2013/01/08/tmobile-no-contract-unlimited-4g/

Sharing your mobile “internet” data connection – free

3 Jan

 

Dispatch hotspot  diagram

Dispatch hotspot diagram

I don’t get to make promises but I trust this year is gonna be a lot more fun and fruitful. Hence, I am continuing from where we left off last year and I am doing this with great respect to our growing need for data (internet data to be precise).

You’ll agree with me that it is becoming more and more expensive to get good internet connections for the increasing number of gadgets ranging from smartphones-to-tablets-to-laptops and even desktops. this has paved the way for proliferation or would I say exploitation by most telephone network providers by providing countless numbers of data packages, all in the bid to cash in on customers pocket content (cash). I however have some pretty good news for y’all. Shhhhhhhhh, don’t tell anybody outside cos I am about to let out some pretty useful secrets for absolutely “FREE”.

Easily Share your mobile data connection

You can share your device’s mobile data connection with a single computer via a USB cable or via Bluetooth: USB tethering or Bluetooth tethering. You can also share your tablet’s data connection with up to eight devices at once, by turning your device into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot. (Not all carriers and tablets support these features.)

When your tablet is sharing its data connection, an icon appears in the Status bar and as an ongoing notification in the Notifications panel (see Managing notifications).

You can also obtain a network connection for your device from a computer via Bluetooth: see Obtain a network connection via Bluetooth tethering.

USB tethering is active
Bluetooth tethering is active
Portable Wi-Fi hotspot is active
Multiple tethering or hotspot connections are active

For the latest information about tethering and portable hotspots, including supported operating systems and other details, visit android.com/tether.

Share your device’s data connection via USB

Wireless Hotspot

Wireless Hotspot

If your computer is running Windows 7 or a recent distribution of some flavors of Linux (such as Ubuntu), you typically don’t need to prepare your computer for tethering. But if you’re running an earlier version of Windows or another operating system, you may need to prepare your computer to establish a network connection via USB. For the most current information about which operating systems support USB tethering and how to configure them, visit android.com/tether.

  1. Use the USB cable that came with your tablet to connect your tablet to your computer.
  2. Open the Settings application.
  3. Touch Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  4. Check USB tethering.The tablet starts sharing its mobile network data connection with your computer, via USB connection. An ongoing notification icon is added to the System bar, to the left of the time.
  5. Uncheck USB tethering to stop sharing your data connection. Or just disconnect the USB cable.

Share your device’s data connection via Bluetooth

If your computer can obtain an Internet connection via Bluetooth, you can configure your tablet to share it’s mobile data connection with your computer.

  1. Pair your tablet with your computer.
  2. Configure your computer to obtain its network connection via Bluetooth. For more information, see your computer’s documentation.
  3. Open the Settings application.
  4. Touch Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  5. Check Bluetooth tethering.

Share your device’s data connection as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot

  1. Open the Settings application.
  2. Touch Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  3. Check Portable Wi-Fi hotspot.

wi-fi-hotspot-sharing

After a moment, the tablet starts broadcasting its Wi-Fi network name (SSID), so you can connect to it with up to 8 computers or other devices. An ongoing notification is added to the System bar, to the left of the time.

When Portable Wi-Fi hotspot is checked, you can change its network name or secure it. See Rename or secure your portable hotspot.

Uncheck Portable Wi-Fi hotspot to stop sharing your data connection via Wi-Fi.

Rename or secure your portable hotspot

You can change the name of your tablet’s Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and secure its Wi-Fi network.

  1. Open the Settings application.
  2. Touch Wireless & networks > Tethering & portable hotspot.
  3. Ensure Portable Wi-Fi hotspot is checked.
  4. Touch Portable Wi-Fi hotspot settings.
  5. Touch Configure Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Configure Wi-Fi hotspot dialog opens.

You can change the network SSID (name) that other computers see when scanning for Wi-Fi networks.

You can also touch the Security menu to configure the network with Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) security, with a preshared key (PSK).

If you touch the WPA2 PSK security option, a password field is added to the Configure Wi-Fi hotspot dialog. If you enter a password, you will need to enter that password when you connect to the tablet’s hotspot with a computer or other device. Or touch Open in the Security menu to remove security from your Wi-Fi network.

  1. Touch Save.

Voilà….Enjoy.

Source: http://adamufunbala.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/sharing-your-mobile-internet-data-connection-free/

Data caps may create an uncompetitive broadband market

19 Dec
Calling monthly broadband bandwidth usage caps “the product of an uncompetitive broadband marketplace,” the Open Technology Institute questioned the value of data caps and lambasted the FCC for ignoring the issue.

In a new study released Monday, OTI concluded that limiting bandwidth is unnecessary and could harm the unprecedented growth and innovation that has occurred on the Internet.

“As this paper documents, data caps, especially on wireline networks, are hardly a necessity,” the report reads. “Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further increase revenues from existing subscribers and protect legacy services such as cable television from competing Internet services.”

Open Technology Institute data caps report

Internet service providers argue that growing broadband traffic and the need to maintain quality service are two important factors in capping usage. However, OTI said that network congestion occurs in different locations at limited times of the day.

Further, the Institute is worried about overage fees having a chilling effect on broadband growth in the United States, and it feels that regulators are not doing enough to address the issue.

“Even as Internet service providers complain to regulators they need caps to manage the flood of new data traffic, many boast to Wall Street of their rapidly declining costs for equipment and transporting data, despite adding more and more subscribers to their network,” said Benjamin Lennett, OTI policy director, in a news release. “Repeated calls from public interest groups urging the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the issue and require service providers to provide data that justify caps have been largely ignored.”

From the FCC’s side of it, the ongoing challenge to its net neutrality rules is part of the reason that usage-based billing has not yet been addressed in depth. Earlier this month, Commissioner Ajit Pai said that the FCC may attempt to regulate the pricing of usage-based broadband in 2013 if a legal challenge brought by Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and MetroPCS regarding net neutrality is decided in the commission’s favor.

Source: http://stratcommservices.wordpress.com/2012/12/19/data-caps-may-create-an-uncompetitive-broadband-market/

Belgian TETRA Operator Outlines Public-Safety Mobile Data Plan

22 Nov

“One European TETRA public-safety national network operator is moving forward with mobile data plans for its users through a commercial mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service rather than waiting for spectrum and technology details to be hammered out through the European Union and various public-safety association working groups.

ASTRID, the Belgian nationwide TETRA operator, is analyzing offers to a public tender for a data MVNO model under which the three Belgian GSM network services would be used initially. The service would incorporate a subscriber identity module (SIM) card configured with public-safety features such as nationwide roaming and end-to-end encryption.
“In Europe no spectrum is free from regulators to deploy a dedicated data network for public safety,” said Christian Mouraux, ASTRID product management and market intelligence manager. “People are working on it, but we are not there yet.
“In the meantime, we don’t want our users to go to the public GSM operator. We want to offer them an MVNO service, put in place and managed by ASTRID, so they can get a higher service level from GSM operators.”
The tender has three parts. First, ASTRID is seeking a third-party roaming hub partner to ensure international and nationwide roaming, something not currently available in Belgium. Another part of the tender includes a dual SIM card, with a mobile termination (MT) that would be activated by the roaming partner and a second MT that is silent and could be activated by ASTRID once it launches its own dedicated network. The third piece of the tender is for the management platform including the servers, virtual private network (VPN) and control units for the public-safety service.
ASTRID received applications in April and selected a short list of the best candidates in May. The full specification was provided in July. ASTRID received the candidates’ first offers last week and is starting negotiations. “Our objective is to award the contract to the best bidder by the beginning of February and then start with the implementation ASAP,” Mouraux said.
“This is a real step forward, especially in regard to being able to access not just one, but all in-country networks, using a common SIM card — ASTRID’s plans are ambitious,” said Duncan Swan, partner with U.K. consultancy Analysys Mason. “ASTRID has undertaken a lot of work to understand the level of data requirements from their users and came up with the unequivocal recommendation that mobile broadband is a necessity for public-safety operations.”
“Certainly with the sum of the three GSM operators, they have the coverage that is close to our coverage and might be better in some places,” Mouraux said. “Belgium is a small country with high population density.”
Mouraux said the main challenge of the service will be during emergency situations when commercial networks become congested. Priority access isn’t available through GSM technology, but once the commercial service providers roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE), priority access could be available.
ASTRID’s 40,000 public-safety users pay a yearly fee for the mission-critical voice service and low-speed data. Mouraux said the higher-speed data service fees would work the same way. There will be a monthly data volume, and users would pay more if they exceed that threshold.
Pricing the service responsibly will be a key to its success, Mouraux said. “Our users will be willing to pay a higher price to get the higher data service, but they won’t pay three times the price,” he said. “There will be a delta between GSM and the public-safety MVNO service because we will add value and security, but we have to take care that it’s not exaggerated.”
ASTRID officials are viewing the MVNO model as a short-term solution. Once a dedicated broadband network is in place, the MVNO service could still carry less mission-critical data traffic. “For the long-term approach, we are still working in some working groups to find frequencies,” Mouraux said. “It will be a minimum of 10 years to do that in Europe. For the short term, we would like to do the MVNO model.”
In the United States, recent legislation established 20 megahertz of spectrum and $7 billion for a nationwide public-safety broadband network. European regulators have not yet identified dedicated spectrum or funding for public-safety broadband services”

Everything Everywhere should price LTE for all postpaid mobile broadband users, not just the highest spending ones

18 Oct

Now is an exciting time for Everything Everywhere (EE) as the soon-to-launch LTE operator works out how it can best ensure a successful LTE launch and create a strong and sustainable position in the UK mobile market. At the moment the operator, the combined UK arms of France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, is finalising its LTE prices ahead of the Oct 30 announcement. It will be focused on how best to balance some important and related goals: increase revenues to make a return on 4G investments; add as many high value subscribers to the network as possible; and define its newly-launched brand (“EE”) while enhancing brand equity.

The operator has already laid the foundation for its LTE launch by offering some of the most popular high-end smartphones in the market that happen to be “4G ready”, and it has built out what is expected to be a high level of LTE coverage in sixteen large UK cities.

Pricing and marketing lessons from LTE markets

EE has the luxury of being able to look at how LTE operators in other markets have priced and positioned services to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Pricing strategies have so far fallen into two camps: charge a clear premium for LTE over 3G, or price LTE on a par with 3G. Although some operators, such as DoCoMo in Japan, are charging a slight premium over 3G, the “slight premium” approach is in a minority next to the “clear premium” and “no premium” approaches and is gradually but inexorably becoming “no premium” as LTE competition develops for these operators.

To date, 4G pricing and marketing strategies have been determined by the quality and coverage of LTE networks in the context of operators’ broader strategic objectives. Some operators, most notably in the Nordic markets, priced LTE at launch at a premium of as much as 50 per cent over their 3G tariffs. Early LTE marketing closely resembled early 3G marketing: targeted at tech-savvy early adopters by highlighting technical capabilities in isolation rather than the actual end-user experience. Despite being the first to see LTE networks, the technology has yet to gain as much traction in the Nordic markets as it has in markets where LTE was priced at little or no premium at launch.

Other operators, most notably in the US, launched LTE by charging the same amount for LTE access as they did 3G, with the only premium on the amount the LTE device would cost to buy over a 3G device. US operators aggressively marketed the technology and highlighted several core concepts in their messages, backed up by solid coverage and a good range of devices: LTE offers better quality of experience over 3G though faster speeds. The result of this approach: the US is by far the largest LTE market in the world.

Launching LTE and charging no premium for access over 3G by focussing on enhanced experience has seen operators sign up more LTE users than operators that have charged a significant premium. That’s not to say that the “no premium” operators haven’t been able to charge any premium for LTE. Operators have seen success in offering LTE access for the same price as 3G with small per month download allowances (e.g. 500MB or 1GB), and then offer larger per month GB (e.g. 2GB plus) allowances only on LTE. In this way, operators have been able to offer LTE to the whole valuable postpaid mobile broadband user base, and also charge a premium for users who want high per month download rates.

In terms of branding, operators are often unclear about if and how they can (re)-position in their markets when they have launched LTE. EE will want to make sure it hits the right note with this, especially as it has the luxury of both a blank sheet of paper in the UK public’s mind as well as the largest mobile user base in the UK thanks to its Orange/ T-Mobile legacy.

With the migration from 2G to 3G, operators were in a position to offer something wholly new: mobile broadband. With LTE, by contrast, the most successful LTE marketing campaigns have focused simply and clearly on how LTE offers a better and enhanced mobile broadband experience. Perhaps surprisingly, offering a better experience by offering faster mobile broadband speeds has chimed with consumers as much as offering more room and comfort in first class does for premium air passengers.

The danger to EE of charging a premium based on its 4G lead

Because of EE’s unique spectrum situation, it has a lead of at least six month over rivals with LTE.  It will be tempting to charge a premium over 3G price plans and get the most it can out of the highest spending mobile users in the UK, the so called “creaming” or “skimming” approach. But given that EE’s rivals will launch LTE in only around six months time, this would be a mistake. EE’s strong 3G rivals are sure to price LTE extremely competitively to sign-up a broad base of users when they launch. When this happens EE will still have the advantage of an optimised and more widespread network, but it will struggle to maintain a clear premium because of it.

Charging a high premium for LTE over 3G will mean that EE will miss out on signing up as many mid-to-high ARPU users of rival networks as it would if it didn’t charge a premium. This would result in a significant lost opportunity for EE to lock-in these valuable (let’s call them “low-end premium”) users to lengthy 24 month contracts.

If entry-level LTE is too expensive, many valuable UK consumers that don’t use lots of mobile data but still pay £30 ($48.30) or more on their monthly bills will switch-off from what EE is doing. EE can encourage lower-spending postpaid mobile broadband users to sign up for more expensive tariffs by offering higher device subsidies only on higher-priced (£40+)  price plans, thereby ensuring that it doesn’t sign up unprofitable low-spending postpaid users.

EE has a unique and one-off opportunity to position in the UK market by offering the best mobile broadband experience to a broad base of premium monthly mobile broadband subscribers. If it adopts this approach, EE will lay the foundations for a profitable and sustainable business by focusing on offering the best mobile broadband network to the most profitable users in any mobile market: postpaid mobile broadband users.

Source: http://www.telecoms.com/50927/everything-everywhere-should-price-lte-for-all-postpaid-mobile-broadband-users-not-just-the-highest-spending-ones/  October 16, 2012  Written by Paul Lambert

FCC Chairman: I’m concerned about data caps

12 Sep

Gigaom

Has FCC chairman Julius Genachowski changed his mind on the acceptability of data caps? As far back as 2010 he defended the idea of wireline ISPs using broadband usage caps as part of the network neutrality order and did so again in May at The Cable Show when he reiterated the position. The chairman has said he doesn’t mind the caps and is in favor of ISPs having the opportunity to experiment with different business models, but last night at a Silicon valley event it seemed like his mind has changed.

When asked about the impact of data caps on broadband innovation by my colleague Janko Roettgers and how his thinking had evolved on the topic, the chairman said he was concerned about data caps. He added, “Anything that depresses broadband usage is something that we need to be really concerned about.” And he further said, “We should all…

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