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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Orange and Deutsche Telekom to Introduce Smart Speaker

France-based operator Orange and Germany-based Deutsche Telekom will introduce their own jointly developed smart speaker in December, according to Orange CEO Stephane Richard. Speaking at the GSMA’s Mobile360 event in Brussels, Richard said the companies aim to offer a European alternative to a market currently dominated by the U.S.-based technology and retail giants Google and Amazon.
 
DT previewed the smart speaker earlier in September at the IFA electronics trade show in Berlin. Originally the device was slated to launch in the summer, and then the date was pushed back to September; the new date of December suggests that the partners intend for the speaker to enter the market in time for the Christmas holiday season.
 
Richard said he and DT CEO Tim Hoettges will present the speaker with a voice-controlled digital assistant. The companies are focusing on language recognition, in order to make the device suitable for multiple markets within Europe. The speaker will be called Magenta in DT’s markets and Djingo in Orange’s.
 
The Orange CEO made the announcement in a speech on the development of artificial intelligence, of which smart speakers are one of the best-known and fastest-growing applications on the market today, he said. Richard called for a greater role for Europe in the burgeoning AI market, saying that it is an area in which “we need more Europe, not less.” The EU, he said, is “not especially advanced” in the industry and is currently investing six times less than the U.S. and three times less than Asia on AI development.
 
Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker system, which operates by connecting to Google’s search engine, dominates a market that is growing rapidly in developed markets. While it is not a mobile device strictly speaking, depending for the most part on home-based routers, the smart speaker market represents yet another area in which traditional operators are being marginalized by new technological developments developed and monetized by outside entities—the same entities that are challenging the MNOs on other playing fields, such as virtual mobile service including messaging and VoIP.
 
While Google and Amazon are giants so large that it is daunting to contemplate competing with them on their home turf, so to speak, it is noteworthy that two major international operators based in Europe are making the attempt. They may well be able to market this system effectively to their pre-existing customers, by leveraging their brand loyalty advantage, as well as by pricing it lower than Alexa.
 
The Magenta/Djingo system, which is the culmination of a longstanding cooperation between the German and French groups on procurement, R&D and network services, represents a way in which operators can wrest back control over customers’ use of internet-based services, keeping them within their ecosystems and strengthening their brands in the process.



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, September 19, 2018

Airtel Nigeria Doubles Data on Infinix, Tecno and Itel Smartphones

Mobile operator Airtel Nigeria has announced a strategic partnership with Chinese device manufacturers Infinix, Tecno and Itel. Under the partnership, customers who purchase a new Infinix, Tecno or Itel smartphone will enjoy an exclusive Airtel Double Data Offer for a six-month period. The offer allows customers to enjoy twice the value of any data plan they purchase on their newly-acquired smartphones. For instance, if customers buy the NGN 1,000.00 (US $2.76) monthly data plan on any of the participating smartphones, they get 3 GB instead of 1.5 GB of data. The offer is available to both new and existing customers of Airtel.
 
Budget smartphones, often manufactured in China, have made very significant inroads into the global smartphone market, especially in developing economies but by no means limited to those. In any market, it is often worth an operator’s while (and investment) to get smartphones into the hands of as many subscribers as possible, on the grounds that once they have the devices, those customers will use them to consumer ever-increasing amounts of mobile data.
 
In developed markets where most users already have smart devices, such concerns are less pressing than in developing ones where data consumption is the province of a small minority of mobile customers. As of May 2018, Nigeria had a smartphone penetration of 18.5 percent, so the market has a long way to go before it reaches the saturation point. Giving current feature-phone subscribers and non-subscribers an incentive to purchase a cheap smartphone will pay dividends by driving data revenue to the mobile operator that does so.
 
Other than ensuring that the price of the device is sufficiently low, an operator can incentivize users by discounting data. A two-for-the-price-of-one data deal could be an effective incentive, considering that it is directly targeted at the functionality of the device in question, and given that it will cost the operator relatively little. So in that sense, Airtel’s Double Data Offer could well have the desired effect of converting more mobile users to data users. The fact that this is a partnership not with one device manufacturer, as is usual, but with three makes it even more persuasive, as giving consumers the choice they increasingly demand.
 
However, since at least a good number of the people Airtel is targeting with this offer are currently not using any data at all, and are therefore newcomers to the whole concept of mobile data, a double data offer may be less attractive that it would be to users who already know the value of a megabyte.



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, September 13, 2018

Movistar Mexico Launches American Football App

Movistar Mexico, owned by Spain-based Telef√≥nica, has signed an agreement with the U.S.-based National Football League (NFL) to launch the Movistar NFL MX app. This app gives all the operator’s mobile customers access to all U.S. football games of the upcoming season, as well as other exclusive NFL content. Customers will also be given the opportunity to win tickets for games such as the Los Angeles Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs, to be held on 19 November in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca. The app will be available to iOS and Android users at a one-off cost of MXN 99.00 (US $5.13), starting on 17 September.
 
Amid the U.S. government’s increasingly strident stance with regard to Mexican immigration and the concomitant strain in relations, mobile operators are clearly trying to increase and strengthen ties between the two countries. U.S. giant AT&T—after acquiring Nextel Mexico and Iusacell in 2014 and 2015—established a Mexican subsidiary, AT&T Mexico, with a cross-border North American mobile service area in which roaming does not apply.
 
Given the close connections—by culture and population—between the U.S. and Mexico, and given that those have apparently grown to include American football, it makes sense for a the U.S.-Mexican operator to use the time-tested strategy of offering exclusive access to sports content in a way that itself crosses the border. And the NFL itself has taken this approach, having announced plans to hold a small number of regular-season games in Mexico in 2018 through 2021, with the Rams-Chiefs matchup as the inaugural event. Offering Mexican customers of AT&T not only the opportunity to win tickets to that game but also exclusive access via an app with a low one-time fee to televised viewing of all NFL games is an excellent way for the operator to leverage and monetize this current cultural phenomenon.


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, September 10, 2018

Sprint, Ericsson to Demonstrate Virtualized IoT Technology at MWC

U.S. operator Sprint and Swedish technology developer Ericsson have announced that they are creating a distributed and virtualized core network dedicated specifically to IoT services, as well as an IoT operating system. The new platform is expected to create an optimal flow of device data, enabling end-users and enterprises to receive immediate, actionable intelligence, according to the operator. The platform will be presented at a press conference at Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles on 12 September.
 
Sprint has already partnered with Ericsson to roll out an IoT network, and the new system is powered by Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator platform. The core network is designed to provide low latency and the highest availability, and to reduce the distance between the device generating the data and the IoT application processing it. Nodes are distributed right to the user’s premises, if need be, to support specific security, privacy and latency requirements.
 
The new IoT OS provides connectivity and device management, which enables simplified inbound and outbound activity, configuration and updates of firmware and software for each device, and full subscription lifecycle management and monitoring of billing and usage data. Customers also have full control of data management and access to managed services for all IoT elements and enterprise locations, including network operations center monitoring, service resource fulfillment, cloud orchestration management and application management.
 
With IoT usage proliferating globally across user categories, from home-based consumers to large enterprises and governments, the need for larger networks and more sophisticated systems—very much including security—is growing. Technology companies such as Ericsson are rising to meet this demand. However, if mobile operators are to remain relevant and not miss out on major revenue opportunities, they need to get involved directly with the development of the IoT and deliver sophisticated services to their customers. Otherwise, they will certainly remain the proverbial “dumb pipes” with regard to IoT, and they once risked doing with regard to the streaming entertainment content and other value-added mobile services that invaded the market in recent years.
 
Sprint’s initiative with Ericsson is an excellent example of what we are talking about. First, the operator acted fast to create its own IoT network, so customers would not have to go outside its ecosystem to use connected devices. Now, Sprint is working with its technology partner to improve the network by reducing latency (while keeping power usage low) and increasing security. Not only that, but the partners are creating a proprietary IoT OS for Sprint, with full services and support that should prove especially attractive to enterprises.
 
By creating its own OS, Sprint is moving even more forcefully to keep its IoT users within its ecosystem and to make sure that it retains them in the future. It will be able to do that if its IoT OS is dynamic and evolves at or ahead of the pace of the technology generally. We think operators in many markets would be well served by emulating Sprint’s example to the extent possible.



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 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Deutsche Telekom Launches Zero-Rated Gaming Option, Special Youth Rates

German operator Deutsche Telekom has released StreamOn Gaming, which enables customers to play online and multiplayer games on their smartphones without consuming data in their mobile tariff. At the same time, it has also revised its MagentaMobil Young tariff portfolio for customers under the age of 27, allowing them to add StreamOn Gaming to their mobile plans at no extra charge. For customers over 27 who subscribe to MagentaMobil and FamilyCard plans, the charge for StreamOn Gaming will be €2.95 (US $3.40) per month.
 
StreamOn Gaming features 17 games, including such popular ones as Pokemon Go and Fortnite, and the service can be added to all of the operator’s MagentaMobil Young tariffs.
 
DT is also increasing the data volume in its MagentaMobil Young XS and M tariffs for new and existing customers as of 31 August. The MagentaMobil XS will offer 2 GB instead of 1 GB of data per month, while the MagentaMobil M will contain 8 GB instead of 6 GB of data.
 
As mobile data consumption grows exponentially, among the market factors driving this growth is gaming. Gaming, both mobile and online, tends to require very large amounts of data to support its rich interactive features. In developed markets such as Germany, gaming is popular and relatively affordable. Therefore, for an operator such as Deutsche Telekom to create a value-added package of it is a good move.
 
Considering the large volume of data these games consume, charging a flat rate for a zero-rated package is a smart way of realizing revenue. Collecting €2.95 each month from subscribers is likely to bring in more revenue than charging for the data consumed on a per-megabyte basis, which may be prohibitive for many users. Zero-rating the data should have the effect of stimulating data consumption and thereby promoting higher-consumption habits among gamers, which could be monetized in various ways in the future.
 
Since gaming is particularly popular among youth, targeting that demographic makes a great deal of sense. By exempting those under 27 from the per-month charge for StreamOn Gaming, DT is not only responding to this group’s budget-mindedness but is also promoting loyalty at an impressionable time in a consumer’s financial life. And when those users age out of the group, they will be more inclined to start paying for the service, having already grown accustomed to enjoying its benefits.
 
And on that note, we may observe that increasing general-purpose data volumes for youths without raising prices has a similar effect in cultivating data-consumption habits that will yield future benefits in terms of revenue for the operator.


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 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Base Adds Unlimited Voice Calls for €5.00 on Entry-Level Postpaid Plan

Belgian operator Base has created a new entry-level postpaid plan, with unlimited voice calling to all networks as an add-on. The operator’s Based on You 15 plan normally comes with 3 GB of data and 300 minutes for €15.00 (US $17.16) per month; the unlimited voice service costs an extra €5.00 (US $5.72) per month.
 
The complete €20.00 (US $22.88) plan also includes unlimited SMS and 1 GB of cloud storage. Previously, the unlimited-calls option was available for higher-level postpaid plans for €2.00 (US $2.29) per month, and all Based on You customers already receive unlimited on-net calls.
 
Base is also offering all subscribers of its Based on You plans unlimited data free on 19 August, to celebrate World Photography Day and encourage customers to share their photos.
 
Base’s offering of this particular add-on seems to us to be a savvy move, for two main reasons. One, it is always appealing to customers when a benefit that previously was available only to higher-end subscribers is extended to lower-end subscribers. That sense of inclusion motivates uptake of services. And two, it responds to the fact that, despite the plethora of data-intensive features now available via mobile devices, traditional voice telephony is still extremely important to users across the spectrum of sophistication levels.
 
Based on You is a suite of postpaid plans, and therefore can be considered to target relatively higher-end or financially strong consumers. Within that category, the entry-level users are still likely to have more or less the same concerns and needs as the others, including a desire to expand voice calling well beyond 300 minutes, which is not a very large amount of calling time. The existing unlimited on-net is not likely to fully satisfy this desire, as Belgium, while a small country, is a developed one with three major operators. And as Base is the smallest by number of subscribers, it is a good idea for the operator to offer unlimited access to its competitors’ networks, as 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, August 22, 2018

Airtel Payments Bank, AXA Life to Launch Life Insurance Plan

In India, Airtel Payments Bank—the mobile-money subsidiary of operator Bharti Airtel—and Bharti AXA Life Insurance have partnered to offer a government-backed life insurance plan. The plan, called Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), was designed to increase penetration of life insurance services among the underinsured. The PMJJBY service, underwritten by Bharti AXA Life Insurance, offers an INR 200,000 (US $2,8692) coverage for a nominal premium of INR 330.00 (US $4.72) per year and can be purchased by all existing or new Airtel Payments Bank savings bank account holders age 18 to 50.
 
At first, PMJJBY will be available at 100,000 Airtel Payments Bank Banking Points across the country. Airtel Payments Bank plans to expand the service availability to over 500,000 banking points to enable the product to reach remote areas of the country.
 
Mobile-money services are now offered very widely by mobile operators, either on their own or in partnership with commercial banks or other financial institutions, and they have proved popular and useful in many markets, especially those with a relatively large proportion of unbanked persons or those with less than average access to financial services. In such environments, operators have stepped into the breach, allowing customers to have more powerful and effective financial lives while also seamlessly integrating their mobile services with financial services in ways that strengthen the operators’ brands and build customer loyalty.
 
The next step appears to be expanding the notion of mobile-based financial services beyond simply transferring money or paying phone bills. Life insurance is one financial product that has potentially universal appeal while falling outside the typical purview of both operators and banks. By partnering with AXA, a global insurance provider, Airtel is now able to help not only the unbanked but also the uninsured.
 
The per-year cost of the insurance premium is extremely low and therefore should be appropriate for the target demographic, which is basically the poor and uninsured. Of course, the amount of the coverage itself is also not very large, but again, it is likely to fit the circumstances of those who would buy it. By providing this insurance, we think Airtel could achieve something that goes beyond simply driving revenue and increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty—although those are worthy aims. In the larger sense, the operator could increase the sense of financial inclusion among those who traditionally have been more or less marginalized in the Indian economy. That, in turn, could motivate those people to participate in more different kinds of financial transactions and to become, in general, bigger consumers of more products—including both traditional and value-added mobile services.
 
As the Indian economy is growing significantly now and welcoming participants from a broader section of the population than ever before, this initiative seems well timed.


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