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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sunrise Launches Daily Unlimited Plan

Swiss operator Sunrise is extending its unlimited mobile offer to prepaid customers, offering unlimited communications for 24 hours for CHF 2.50 (US $2.57). This includes unlimited calls, SMS and MMS in Switzerland, as well as unlimited data at up to 300 Mbps. The 24-hour period starts whenever the user initiates the first call, text or data connection. Sunrise said the offer will work well for tourists and other customers who may not use their phone everyday.

Sunrise also introduced new mobile broadband offers for users of laptops, tablets or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, replacing its previous Take Away Freedom subscriptions. All three new plans come with unlimited data, while the price varies according to speed, at CHF 9.00 (US $9.25) per month for up to 2 Mbps, CHF 19.00 (US $19.52) for up to 10 Mbps and CHF 49.00 (US $50.34) for the maximum 300 Mbps plus 1 GB of roaming data in its Region 1, which includes Europe, the United States and Canada. No minimum contract is required with the plans, and customers with a Freedom or Home subscription receive a 10 percent discount. In addition to a mobile hotspot from CHF 1.00 (US $1.03), Sunrise also offers a SIM for CHF 9.00 (US $9.25) per month that allows customers to use their smartphone plan on another device.

With these offers, Sunrise is responding to increased consumer demand for both flexibility and generous data. Unlimited offers have traditionally been aimed at higher-end postpaid customers. Offering unlimited calls and data not only to prepaid customers but on an ultra-short-term, essentially pay-as-you-go basis is unusual, and appears to address the needs of a niche demographic—tourists and travelers who will not need the service long-term or even every day during their trip, but who will use their smartphones heavily when they do use them. As an alternative to international roaming charges (for users from outside the EU, of course, after the end of such surcharges there in June), Sunrise’s offer seems like a very good one, with the daily price low enough not to be a deterrent to use.

Sunrise also extends the unlimited concept to long-term plans, at least as far as data is concerned, and again with flexibility in mind, as embodied in the no-contract provision and in the SIM offer allowing the plan features to be accessible from another device.  

Since unlimited data offers are a gamble for operators, there is an incentive to hedge them in some way. In this case, we wonder whether the strategy of differentiating the plan levels by data speed is a sound one. The trend in the worldwide mobile marketplace is toward ever-greater speed, and consumers increasingly use apps and services (such as streaming entertainment content) that demand very high data speeds. Therefore, lower prices contingent on lower speeds may not be particularly appealing to the targeted users—even if those speeds are adequate for most purposes. 



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tele2 Lithuania Acquires 3,000 Users for Mobile PBX

Mobile operator Tele2 Lithuania said that almost 3,000 corporate subscribers have already connected to its new Mobile Station PBX service, launched in March 2017. According to the operator, the offer allows businesses to replace their fixed IP telephony infrastructure. The solution can be downloaded onto a smartphone as a mobile app, or it can be managed via a self-service portal. Feature phones can also be attached to the service.
 
Mobile Station integrates standard IP telephony functions such as call routing, recording, audio-conferencing, voicemail, missed-call information and other features. The basic cost is €7.50 (US $8.21) per device per month, while the premium Mobile Station Pro tariff is €8.90 (US $9.75) per device per month. Tele2 Lithuania’s business subscriber base totaled 169,500 at the end of the first quarter, which represents an increase of 9.4 percent over last year.
 
Small and medium-sized businesses are more likely than larger enterprises to have a heavy reliance on BYOD for employees’ communications needs, and SMBs are also more likely to have gone all-mobile. For these reasons, mobile-based, app-driven solutions that provide all or most of the functionalities of fixed line PBX systems are a good way to increase an operator’s revenue from SMB clients.
 
According to its statements, Tele2 Lithuania has had success with this offering in the first three months or so of its availability. The prices are reasonable, and the features are evidently what clients desire. While the number of new clients may not be very large, it has been only a short time since the product launch, and we cannot assess what percentage of the operator’s business customers are SMBs.
 
In any case, we believe that a fairly traditionally-oriented product such as mobile PBX substitutes can still be a winner in today’s mobile marketplace, and that in operators’ pursuit of targeted, value-added offerings that place them beyond the category of mere commodity-providers, this type of product should not be overlooked.  



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.



To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Google to Add Android Infotainment OS to Volvo, Audi Cars

Google has announced deals with Audi and Volvo to add its Android in-car infotainment system to their next generation of vehicles. In a short statement, Google said that the official licensing agreements mean that Audi and Volvo car owners will eventually be able to use the automotive version of Android to control their air conditioning, sunroof and windows, to find nearby restaurants with Google Maps, listen to Spotify and other entertainment content, and ask Google Assistant for help. The company added that a preview of the Audi and Volvo systems will be on display at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco beginning on 17 May.

In a separate statement, Volvo said that it plans to launch its version of the Android OS on new models within two years, adding that the large catalogue of popular Android apps developed by Google, Volvo or third-party app developers will offer connected and predictive services in and around the car. Audi said the Android OS will be included in the new Audi Q8 Sport concept technology platform, with the new functions running on the large MMI touch display on the dashboard. The information will also be visible in the Audi virtual cockpit in the driver’s direct field of view, marking the first time the new services have been fully integrated into Audi’s brand-specific infotainment system.

With these agreements, Google is moving to provide a fully integrated Android mobile operating system for motor vehicles. That is a significant step forward, in that existing built-in Android solutions (provided by Honda and Hyundai in some of their car models) have been implemented without the full participation of Google and therefore use old versions of the operating system. Google’s current product, called Android Auto, is not integrated with cars’ on-board computers and needs for there to be a smartphone in the vehicle.

While the full details and functionality of Google’s new Android solutions for Volvo and Audi will become clear after they are demonstrated at the San Francisco conference this week, it is likely that it will be superior to the existing solutions, and that it will give seamless access to selected infotainment content from providers with which Google has partnerships.

In this respect, we see both opportunities and challenges for mobile operators. Of course, while the connectivity for the on-board infotainment system will not come through a smartphone, we imagine that in most cases it would come via the networks of local MNOs. If this type of service sees significant uptake in the marketplace—which would depend on it expanding beyond just these two auto-makers—MNOs would be seeing a new revenue stream. There would need to be mobile service contracts and plans, independent of existing smartphone plans. Or in-car service could be a new plan element to be added to the contracts of existing customers.

However, as we have frequently observed, operators do not want to be relegated to the role of “dumb pipes” in any sector of the mobile market, so in this case they may want to see what they provide to drivers in the way of special, relevant content. The challenge lies in the fact that in a sense, Google will have beaten them to it, by signing deals with Spotify and other content providers, as well as making its own content particularly easy to access. Nonetheless, we believe that MNOs can offer special access to information and entertainment content, as well, and that the best way to do this would be to target the content locally. Operators will be able to make deals of their own with content providers in the home regions of the customers, so that navigation aids, shopping aids, and even entertainment products could be tailored to the specific tastes and needs of the operator’s customers. And mobile operators do have privileged insight into their own customers’ preferences. 



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.



To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Orange Spain Poised to Enter Home Security Market

Orange Spain is teaming up with specialist manufacturer Tyco to launch a home security service with 24-hour monitoring and emergency response for €29.95 (US $32.82) a month plus a €99.00 (US $108.47) one-time installation fee, according to a report. The service, which becomes available on 24 May, can be set up with a smartphone app and comes with sensor-controlled wireless video surveillance equipment that continues working even during a power outage. Only eight percent of Orange customers currently have a security system in their home, the company says, adding that it will be the first unit in the Orange group to launch such a system.
 
The launch of Orange’s home security service comes nearly two years after Telefónica joined forces with IoT network company Sigfox, insurer Securitas Direct and home alarm provider Verisure to launch a similar service in Spain for Movistar users.
 
Home security systems enabled by the internet are increasingly popular across a broad swath of markets, and mobile operators have made various kinds of efforts to profit from the trend.
 
The most basic, least risky approach is simply to derive revenue from the connectivity needed to run the systems. While this is all upside, there is not a great deal of revenue to earn, because most of the time, security systems do not consume a great deal of data. A more aggressive tactic is to co-brand with existing security systems currently on the market, offer special deals to subscribers that incentivize them to sign up for the service.
 
Orange Spain is going one step further by taking a “soup-to-nuts” approach and creating its own security system, available exclusively to Orange subscribers. Given that only 8 percent of those subscribers now have a home security system, the field is wide open for Orange, and the pre-existing customer base is relatively easy to pitch to. Buying such a service from an already-trusted provider, for many people, is preferable to initiating a relationship with a new company. The exclusivity is likely to make the offer more palatable, and if the price point is right, we imagine that Orange could do quite well with it. The operator is, of course, late to the game, two years behind competitor Movistar. However, the market may be more mature now than it was then.




Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance. To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mexico Requires FM Radio Functionality for Smartphones

Mexico is set to become the first country in the world to legally require smartphone manufacturers to activate the FM chips that are included in nearly all the devices available on the market, so that consumers can listen to FM radio on their phones. Last week, the country’s communications regulator, IFT, introduced a legal provision requiring manufacturers to activate smartphones’ FM radio chips with a view to “preserving the right to access information.” The IFT cited a report by the Mexican Chamber of Television and Radio Broadcasters indicating that only a few smartphones have the FM chip activated because operators “make significant amounts of money from the consumption of streaming data” and would “lose revenue if users had the ability to access the radio for free on their mobile devices.”

The built-in FM capability of most smartphones is a well-kept secret as far as consumers are concerned. While it might seem out of place to get excited about a type of “old technology” at a time when smart-device functionalities are growing by leaps and bounds, the Mexican government is taking a stand on the issue in the name of consumer rights and basic fairness. Forcing manufacturers that want to export to the Mexican market to activate the  FM chips would enable Mexican users to receive radio broadcasts on their phones without using any mobile data, and with less depletion of battery power.

This is significant for mobile operators, because when those chips are activated, a free entertainment-content service can compete with the popular streaming entertainment content services that consume large amounts of mobile data, in particular 4G/LTE data. Not only does that stand to take revenue away from the MNOs due to reduced data consumption, but it would have an effect on the deals they have entered into with streaming entertainment services such as Spotify with the express purpose of attracting customers. For most device manufacturers, there would likely be no negative impact, but for Apple there easily could be, because FM radio via smartphone would be competing against iTunes and Apple Music.

The will to activate FM radio on smartphones could spread beyond Mexico. In the United States, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a regulator known for his pro-operator stances, has made some strong statements in favor of FM. This past February he said, “It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.” He added that FM capability would be valuable from a safety perspective, too, because it would allow users to receive emergency broadcasts during catastrophic events if wireless networks stopped functioning. Nevertheless, Pai said that the FCC should not force device manufacturers to enable FM but instead leave the matter up to the market. The Mexican regulator takes a different view.

It should be noted that we have no idea to what extent FM radio would undercut streaming content. Obviously the selection of music on the radio at any given time is far smaller than what is available via the internet. At the very least, those users who consume data through streaming radio broadcasts could switch to FM transmission and save money. In general, we believe that while there would be an impact, it would not be very great, and for operators to be seen opposing the activation of FM chips would probably have a deleterious effect on their public image. 




Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.


To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Hrvatski Telekom Introduces Zero-Rated Streaming

Croatian operator Hrvatski Telekom has become the latest member of the Deutsche Telekom group to introduce a new mobile tariff with unlimited streaming for selected applications. Aimed at the youth market, the monthly plan comes with 3 GB of data, unlimited on-net calls, 400 minutes and 400 SMS to other networks, and rollover of any unused minutes, SMS and data to the next month. The main novelty is the unlimited use of YouTube, Netflix, HBO Go and Pickbox via the Stream On service, without consuming the data traffic included in the package. The new plan costs HRK 149.00 (US $21.67) per month.

While some countries restrict zero-rating because of concerns about net neutrality, in those markets where it is feasible, operators may offer free access to apps and services of their choice as a way to incentivize potential customers to subscribe as well as to promote habits of more intensive data use.

Hrvatski Telekom’s Stream On service is quite generous in its offerings—several premium and very popular music, video and movie apps that are bound to appeal to young customers. And as we have shown on a large number of occasions, the youth market is a key one for operators to target and cultivate with carefully tailored offerings. Providing youth with affordable plans is an excellent way to foster long-term brand loyalty and keep customers on board until the time when they are able to spend more. Furthermore, and most importantly, while revenue is arguably lost by zero-rating (which of course brings in “zero” revenue), it is likely to be made up and then some in the long run, when the customers are upsold to more expensive plans without zero-rating. We have seen that free access to selected streaming can cultivate larger appetites for data consumption, so promoting the use of data-hungry apps through these giveaways is a solid investment in the future.




Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Fjordkraft Launches MVNO Via Telenor With Discounts for Power Clients

Norwegian electricity provider Fjordkraft has begun offering mobile communication services on Telenor’s network. Fjordkraft, which is owned by network companies BKK and Skagerak as well as by the power producer Statkraft, has approximately 1 million residential electricity customers. They will be able to get mobile services at discounted rates.

Each Fjordkraft Mobil subscription includes unlimited voice calls, SMS and MMS. The data allotments can also be used when roaming in the EU and EAA. The pricing is as follows: A subscription with 1 GB of mobile internet costs NOK 199.00 (US $23.28) per month, or NOK 119.00 (US $13.92) to power customers. The 3 GB subscription costs NOK 279.00 (US $32.63) per month, or NOK 199.00 to power customers. The 5 GB service costs NOK 339.00 (US $39.65), or NOK 279.00 to power customers. The 10 GB is priced at NOK 439.00 (US $51.35), or NOK 339.00 for power customers. The 20 GB service costs NOK 539.00 (US $63.04), or NOK 439.00 to power customers. Unused mobile internet allowances can be rolled over, and there is no contractual commitment.

For companies whose core business is outside the mobile telecom sphere to offer mobile services can be a very sound strategy to bring in revenue. In addition to free-standing MVNOs and MVNOs offered by MNOs, we have seen numerous examples of virtual operators started by retail and other entities. In such cases, it is important to have a pre-existing client base that would be receptive to an offering of mobile services (at the right price, of course), in this case from Norway we see a synergy that makes sense.

Fjordkraft has a large number of customers for home electricity, and considering that—for better or worse—many customers conceive of mobile services as an essential utility akin to electricity, we can certainly envision many of Fjordkraft’s customers being amenable to signing up for mobile packages from a company that they already depend on daily and trust.

The offerings are well-designed, in our view, in that they include unlimited voice and texts as well as a tiered slate of data offerings to cater to the varying needs of Norwegian consumers. We have written recently about the increasing demand for flexibility with regard to plan features among consumers across a wide variety of markets. The pricing of the packages is relatively low to begin with, and the significant discounts across the board makes them even more appealing to Fjordkraft’s electricity clients. From the company’s standpoint, it also holds out the possibility of attracting new electricity clients who are eager to avail themselves of discounted MVNO connectivity.




Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.


To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com