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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ooredoo Oman Sponsors Muscat Festival

Ooredoo Oman will be the gold sponsor of this year’s Muscat Festival in the Gulf nation, running from 10 January through 9 February. The operator will offer family activities including competitions, music and cultural performances and, for the first time, a virtual reality booth with a team-focused game. In addition, products and promotions on Ooredoo’s service plans will be available during the event.

One of these is the Super Data offer for subscribers to the New Shababiah plan, which the  operator has just brought back. For OMR 3.00 (US $7.77), subscribers get 5 GB, valid for seven days, with no limitations on the number of times they can activate it via the operator’s app. Subscribers to Ooredoo’s Mousbak and Shababiah plans can take advantage of this offer by upgrading their plans to New Shababiah through the app, and any unused and bonus data and credit will be transferred.

Ooredoo Oman is one of two MNOs in the country, roughly splitting the mobile market with government-owned Omantel. To play a prominent role in a well-attended national entertainment festival is a savvy move for the operator in terms of enhancing its brand and name recognition. It is also an excellent opportunity to gain new subscribers and upsell existing subscribers, during the event itself.

Activities such as music performances and family-friendly competitions are good for raising awareness of the brand and imbuing it with creative positive associations, including a sense that Oordeoo is public-spirited. The virtual reality activity booth seems like an especially good idea, in that it will help accomplish these things while also reinforcing the perception that Oordeoo’s technology is advanced and showcasing the speed and quality of its network.

Bringing back the Super Data promotion during the festival makes sense in that some participants will feel the need to use an extra amount of data on a short-term basis while attending the event, in order to share video and photos with friends and family. A 5 GB short-term data boost would serve that need particularly well.


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, January 9, 2019

New U.S. MVNO Aims to Put Customers First

Community Phone, an MVNO based in the U.S., just opened its first retail store, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near Boston. The MVNO launched its service, which runs on Sprint’s network, last year, signing up its first customers from an outdoor table in Harvard Square, a prominent public space in Cambridge, and from centers for senior citizens.

The operator is tiny, with a subscriber base of only around 300, and it presents itself as a community-based, grass-roots alternative to traditional mobile services. The CEO and co-founder, James Graham, is 22 years old and is often present in the store, available to speak with and assist anyone who comes in. The other co-founder, John LaGue, is also frequently on-site. Community Phone’s phone-based ordering and support system is staffed so that anyone who calls will speak to a human. Currently, the subscribers are located mainly in the Cambridge area and in Wisconsin, where Graham and LaGue grew up, and are mainly from the youth or elderly demographics.

Community Phone offers several plans, with no contracts and no initial fee. The Simple plan costs US $25.00 a month and offers unlimited calls and texts with 1 GB of data. For US $35.00 a month (the Standard plan), users get the same service but with 2 GB and the opportunity to get additional data at US $3.00 per 250 MB. Finally, the Couple plan offers two lines for US $65.00 a month, with 4 GB of shared data and each additional 500 GB for US $5.00. The company promises that if it should fail, all customers will automatically be switched over to Sprint so they will not lose service.

This grass-roots, bootstrap, small-scale approach to providing mobile service is an interesting elaboration of the MVNO concept. Community Phone’s founders are responding to a situation in the market where at least some users are frustrated by the impersonal nature of the large operators, and hopes to carve out a niche for itself by providing extremely hands-on customer care.

The “small is beautiful” attitude of Community Phone and its emphasis on simplicity should appeal to some users because they are trying to simplify their mobile lives, or else  because they are relatively unfamiliar with the technology and may be intimidated by the major players in the mobile market. It is interesting to note that while the youth and senior demographics are often spoken of as having very different needs and tastes, Community Phone seems to be finding some commonalities between them, such as a desire for simplicity and low cost, and each age group may well value the in-person availability of customer service, though perhaps for somewhat different reasons.

The idea of micro-MVNOs that respond closely to community needs is promising, but growth is inevitable if a company is to survive and prosper. The question here is, will Community Phone be able to retain the characteristics that have enabled it to get this far, if it gets bigger? For now, though, one could say that although T-Mobile US touts unconventionality as its selling point, the Cambridge newcomer is truly an “un-carrier”! 


 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, December 26, 2018

AT&T Launches First 5G Mobile Service in the U.S.

AT&T has claimed a first with the launch of a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G mobile network in the U.S. The service is initially available in 12 cities, but only via a mobile hotspot device, not a mobile phone. The network is live in parts of Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas. AT&T said that its service will “evolve very quickly,” and that it plans to expand the service in the first half of 2019 to parts of seven additional cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California.

As no 5G phones are yet available, customers can use the service for mobile broadband only. The first supporting device is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, previewed by AT&T in October using millimeter wave spectrum. AT&T has said it plans to launch two 5G smartphones in 2019, to be made by Samsung.  

The operator is offering a select group of businesses and consumers the 5G device plus data usage at no cost for at least 90 days. In the spring of 2019, customers will be able to get the hotspot for US $499.00 upfront and 15 GB of 5G data for US $70.00 a month with no annual commitment.

AT&T’s offering of mobile 5G service may perhaps only generously be termed a “launch,” given that there is no compatible smartphone yet, but it is still meaningful as a harbinger of the coming sea change in high-speed mobile service in the country. It is also meaningful as a show of marketing moxie on the part of the operator, which is now able to claim the honor of being the first U.S. operator to offer mobile 5G, albeit only to laptops.

It is indeed a first, despite Verizon’s launch in October of fixed wireless 5G service. For one thing, the Verizon network is not accessible via mobile hotspots, only via home-based routers, and for another, Verizon’s 5G network is based on a proprietary standard, not the one that the mobile industry worldwide is coming to agree upon, called 5G NR. AT&T’s network uses the 5G NR standards.

AT&T’s offering could be viewed as premature given the lack of device support, but it could also be seen as a way of gradually moving into the new wireless era, to make sure that when the time comes, it will have trouble-shot the system and adjusted it appropriately to users’ needs. Thus the rollout to a select group of businesses and consumers, which can presumably be asked for feedback to be studied carefully.

Offering the service free for 90 days or thereabouts is, of course, a good way to encourage uptake and start building goodwill. After that, the pricing appears to be at a level that will be attractive. Currently, AT&T’s 4G/LTE hotspot package costs US $50.00 a month, versus US $70.00 for the 5G, with 10 GB of data versus 15 GB. In comparing 4G and 5G pricing, though, the key question of real-world speed remains essentially unanswered and, for now, unanswerable. AT&T has stated that the theoretical speed of its 5G is 1.2 Gbps, while acknowledging that actual speeds will be “much slower.” How much slower will become clearer the more the service is used, but at a demonstration at a forum hosted by Qualcomm in Hawaii in early December, AT&T’s 5G signal delivered around 130–140 Mbps, according to a report.

That should not be considered a prediction of what AT&T users will experience in the coming months, because the operator will have far more bandwidth at its disposal with which to achieve higher speeds. Nonetheless, the reception of 5G in the marketplace will hinge on just how fast and consistent its speeds turn out to be in comparison with 4G.

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 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Tarifica's 2018 Highlights

  • Our sales grew by almost 100% in 2018, and close to 200% since 2016 and we now count many of the world’s leading operators as clients.

  • Our growth was driven primarily by our suite of new software tools, including Arch, our digital intelligence platform, and our data science solutions.  These solutions include heat maps, elasticity models, customer price indices, hedonic modeling and a variety of other algorithms, visualizations and models designed to help clients better compete and more precisely align their offers and pricing schemes with customers’ needs and budgets. 

  • Our staff was able to serve clients in all regions of the world, including in both developed and developing countries.

  • Tarifica’s products and services now address the needs of more departments than ever before, including Customer Care, Data Science, Propositions,  Device Marketing, Marketing & PR, Market Intelligence and Regulatory Affairs, among others. 

  • We’ve moved our headquarters.  Our new office is located at 747 Third Avenue in the heart of midtown Manhattan just blocks away from Grand Central Terminal, Central Park and the United Nations.  Let us know when you’re going to be in New York.  We’d love to have you stop by our new office to meet the team, get some great coffee and learn more about our software and data solutions. 


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 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Etisalat Launches Postpaid Plans


UAE operator Etisalat has announced the launch of new postpaid plans under the moniker of Freedom. Customers can choose a no-contract plan or a one-year contract plan. Data and voice allowances will be the same on both plans, but the one-year contract offers savings up to 20 percent on their rental charges and six months of free access to Apple Music.

Customers can choose from six tiers starting from AED 100 (US $27.22) for the Freedom Plan 100, which offers 2 GB of data and 100 flexible minutes or 200 local minutes. The Freedom Plan 275 includes 20 GB and 750 flexible minutes or 1,500 local minutes, while the Freedom Plan 1000 offers 100 GB of data and 2,000 flexible minutes or 4,000 local minutes. All the Freedom plans come with 100 free Wi-Fi hours each month, which customers can use at more than 350 locations in the UAE.

One of the signal trends in the worldwide mobile markets that we have observed is the strong increase in desire for plan-feature flexibility among many levels of consumers. Budget operators and large operators’ budget tariffs have been leading this trend, with no-contract plans and prepaid offers dominating.

Here we see a major operator catering to this need, clearly announcing its approach in the very name of the plans—Freedom. The fact that these are postpaid plans indicates that this emphasis on flexibility and freedom is now very relevant in the postpaid sector, not just the prepaid. This flexibility is expressed in the relatively intricately tiered plan structure, which provides different levels of data and voice calibrated to usage levels. It is also apparent from the fact that voice allowances are convertible between local minutes and flexible minutes, again catering to users’ various needs.

Finally, although Freedom is a postpaid option, the plans can be subscribed to in contracted and no-contract forms, without any disadvantage in terms of basic plan features. This is a significant fact in light of the traditional conception of a postpaid plan. Etisalat is depending on the Apple Music service and a price reduction to attract user to the one-year (note, not two-year) contract versions, but it is clearly aware that freedom from contractual obligations will be a major element of the concept of “freedom” for many customers. 

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 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Vodafone UK Uses Manhole Covers to Boost Mobile Network’s Reach

Operator Vodafone UK is installing small antennae below street level, under manhole covers, to help improve its 4G/LTE mobile network coverage in busy urban areas. This equipment can be installed with minimum inconvenience to the local community, as no street-disrupting construction work is required.

The manhole-cover antennae are connected using the operator’s fiber converged network, which spans the U.K. According to the operator, can be upgraded easily for a future 5G network. The solution has debuted in the city of Newbury, and Vodafone has installed two types of mobile-enabled manhole covers at its office and technology center there. One is a purpose-built reinforced unit about the size of a water barrel sunk into the ground, and the other uses an existing cast-iron manhole cover. These devices can carry calls and enable high-speed internet access over a 200-meter radius.

Outside Newbury, Vodafone is also looking to deploy 4G/LTE antennae under its own manhole covers—which the operator acquired through its takeover in 2012 of Cable & Wireless Worldwide—as well as those of utility providers across the country.

Even in some of the most advanced mobile markets, mobile “not-spots” and other coverage issues continue to plague users. The U.K. is a well-known example of this persistent problem, and Vodafone is apparently responding to it, with a technological innovation that seems to combine low cost with low impact—a felicitous combination for operator and customers alike.

Leveraging its own fiber converged network, the operator is deploying a means of boosting its network’s signal at specific points where coverage has been a problem, without needing to build towers. Small antennae, invisible to residents because they are underground, are being used to accomplish the same goal, at much lower cost and without impinging on the urban environment.

In the rollout of this technology, the manhole sites belong to the operator, a strategic use of resources from a the acquisition of a cable entity. But Vodafone’s future plans involve underground locations belonging to various utility companies across the U.K. This arrangement will greatly extend the system’s reach, and as such represents a very valid partnership concept.

If the solution really does end up improving Vodafone’s LTE network coverage, to the point where it is noticeable by the average user, it will give the operator competitive advantage over its rivals, which would drive revenue by causing an increase in new subscribers. Revenue will also be increased if existing users consume more services due to the increased coverage. 

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, December 10, 2018

KT Loses Over 1,600 Customers in Three Days After Outage


The number of mobile phone subscribers at South Korean operator KT sharply declined for three days in a row after a fire at one of the company’s facilities in the capital city of Seoul  and led to disruptions in internet and phone service, according to reports. The fire broke out at a building in western Seoul on 24 November and paralyzed the fixed line, mobile and internet networks for individuals and businesses using KT in Seoul’s western wards of Mapo, Seodaemun and Eunpyeong, as well as some parts of Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul.

According to the Korea Telecommunications Operators Association, the number of KT subscribers decreased by a total of 1,666 between 24 November and 26 November. The report also indicates that the number of users subscribing to competitors SK Telecom and LG Uplus increased by 224 and 1,442, respectively, during those three days.

This incident in South Korea gives an especially dramatic illustration of just how fragile subscriber loyalty can be in the face of major service interruptions. The KT outage in Seoul was due to a fire, which could be construed as an unfortunate accident and not the result of sloppy management and maintenance. Nonetheless, over 1600 customers chose to walk away from KT (the country’s second-ranked operator by subscribers, out of three) and sign up with its competitors. It is noteworthy that many more went over to LG Uplus, the third-ranked operator, rather than to market leader SK Telecom. Recently LG has been rapidly gaining market share in the country.

Operators should take this as a cautionary tale of the potentially unforgiving nature of their customer bases when it comes to disruption of service. Mobile connectivity has become so essential, indeed the lifeblood of the economy and society itself, that even a short-term lack of availability can be perceived as a deal-breaker. Taking the threat of loss of business seriously means getting out in front of a disaster such as this one. In order to ward off subscriber loss, an operator could immediately, during the first day, promise generous compensatory offers to its subscribers, including service credits, bonus data, or even free devices. A bold move is required to convince irate users. Waiting to offer compensation until the issue is resolved could be waiting far too long.

In addition, full transparency and effective, rapid communication are key elements in a strategy to retain as many customers as possible after a catastrophic service outage.


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