Translate

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Research Shows That U.K. Consumers Are Confused About MVNOs

Only 11 percent of mobile phone users in the U.K. say they would prefer to use an MVNO over traditional networks, according to a new research report. Despite high levels of awareness of MVNOs—9 in 10 mobile phone users say they are aware of at least one MVNO brand—the study found that U.K. consumers remain reluctant to switch. Thirty-five percent of them say they would never consider using any provider but one of the major mobile networks.
 
The survey also shows prevalent confusion about what MVNOs are and how they are different from the major mobile networks. One of the biggest misconceptions about MVNOs is that they have weaker network signals, with 38 percent of respondents believing they would get a better signal from a major network than an MVNO. On the other hand, 28 percent of respondents believe that MVNOs offer contract flexibility, and 19 percent expect MVNOs to offer more “perks.”
 
If the U.K. is in any way indicative of what consumers in other advanced markets believe, MVNOs have a long way to go in terms of convincing consumers that their product is worthwhile. As a first step, they need to explain what exactly their product is.
 
The fact this ignorance remains, even though MVNOs have been in the marketplace for a long time, and in spite of their advertising and marketing campaigns, is remarkable. While it is possible the finding is an anomaly pertaining only to the U.K., we feel it likely points to a larger problem, which is that many MVNOs leverage existing customer bases to get business and focus their marketing on fairly narrow specifics, without advocating for the MVNO concept in a broader way. The result is, potential customers may not really understand how an MVNO works, why signal strength should be a non-issue, and what advantages MVNOs may have over major providers for certain kinds of customers.
 
On the other hand, in many markets there are simply too many MVNOs and some of them are based on gimmicky concepts. Public lack of understanding of their raison d’ĂȘtre is often to be expected. The main point is, if an MVNO is established in response to a genuine market need, it has the potential to do well, but it must not assume that customers know what an MVNO is or that they have confidence that it is fully functional.



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, October 12, 2018

Vodafone Romania Partners to Launch Smart Supermarket

Vodafone Romania and Romanian supermarket chain Mega Image have launched what they call the first Smart Supermarket in Romania, located in Bucharest, the capital city. The shop has nine fully-functional IoT retail products that help Mega Image identify customers’ needs and understand their behavior in order to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction and to improve the shopping experience.
 
Vodafone Romania IoT specialists, together with Mega Image, implemented digital smart products which can help the supermarket respond more actively to customers’ needs. The  various products provide customer statistics, stock monitoring, digital media signage for personalized advertising, promotional targeting that displays relevant information to shopper, queue management, Wi-Fi for customers, shoppers feedback system and a customer service assistant. The system uses smart sensors to monitor the routes most frequently used by visitors.
 
As we have written frequently in this space, IoT is growing very aggressively all over the world and promises great utility and revenue opportunities for many kinds of businesses. Fixed and mobile operators, of course, benefit in that they provide the means of connectivity to operate IoT systems. But these companies naturally want to benefit in a richer way than simply to function as providers of connectivity. Partnering with other businesses to create tailor-made, proprietary IoT applications is one way in which this can happen.
 
IoT can enable the remote operation of industrial devices and of smaller-scale devices for consumers within the home. There are huge revenue opportunities in such applications. However, the Mega Image–Vodafone Romania deal points in a different direction. In addition to remote control, the IoT ecosystem in the supermarket has a strong digital advertising component, and this is what makes it particularly interesting to us. Wit IoT applied in this innovative way, not only can the customer experience be improved, thus stimulating sales, but key data can be collected from customers and then dynamically responded to. In this fashion, IoT becomes an active stimulator of revenue.
 
Vodafone, by lending its IoT expertise to Mega Image, not only makes revenue from the project costs but also associates its brand with a popular consumer destination, which helps with loyalty and retention. Further, it burnishes its brand by publicizing the depth of its knowledge of this cutting-edge technology. And finally, it actively participates in the large-scale, ongoing project of developing big consumer data, which can be monetized in in many, often unexpected ways.




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, October 5, 2018

Mexican MVNO Miio Launches with Free Monthly Plan

A new MVNO called Miio has been launched in Mexico with a free basic service along the lines of that previously offered by FreedomPop, according to a report. The service, called, Saldo Free, comes with 50 MB of data, 100 minutes of calls to Mexican fixed line numbers and 10 SMS a month. Users need only acquire a SIM card for MXN 30.00 (US $1.61) and download the operator’s app (available in versions for iOS or Android) to access the bundle. Miio’s out-of-bundle rates are MXN 0.85 (US $0.05) per minute, per MB of data and per SMS. Credit will only be used after the free bundle has been consumed and can be topped up via the corresponding Miio debit card at any Oxxo store in Mexico.
 
U.S.-based FreedomPop, founded in 2011, has had success with its MVNO model, based on an introductory level of service offered without charge and higher levels that are paid for and drive revenue to the operator. FreedomPop has expanded within the U.S. and in 2016 entered the Spanish market and the U.K.
 
In Mexico, the “free” service idea is attractive for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is a relatively budget-minded market with a large number of users who still have a lot of room for growth in terms of data utilization. As of the end of 2017, the country had a total of 14 MVNOs at the end of 2017, accounting for 1.48 million active SIMs, for 1.3 percent of the market. That was up 68.7 percent compared to the end of 2016. The Mexican market, therefore, is far from saturated when it comes to MVNO penetration.
 
With Miio, the main issue is, will enough users not only sign up but use more than the allowances and continue with the service? It seems to us that the allowances are relatively small, perhaps too small, to give users a real sense that they have indeed gotten a “free” service at all. The fact that the only included voice calls are to Mexican landlines could be a deal-breaker, and while SMS are never expensive, an allowance of only 10 per month is so small as to approach meaninglessness. And in an era of streaming content and other data-intensive functionalities, 50 MB per month is also very low indeed. It is possible that very small allowances might be satisfactory to introductory-level users who are newcomers to any data use, but if there are not enough of these users, Miio may face consumer rejection unless it ups its numbers.



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, September 29, 2018

MTN South Africa Discontinues Free Twitter Data

Operator MTN South Africa is ending its offer of zero-rated data for Twitter, saying that it is no longer feasible because of the growing use of video on the messaging platform. MTN also announced changes to its WhatsApp and Twitter bundles, with more data to become available beginning in October.
 
MTN began to offer free Twitter data in May 2014, as a 90-day promotion, and extended the offer over the years. The operator said it was necessary to end the offer as of 25 September 2018 due to the cost and the demand it places on the network. In August, the number of free Twitter users on MTN’s network reached 13 million, using 1.9 petabytes of data.
 
At the same time, MTN also announced changes to its WhatsApp and Twitter bundles, effective 1 October. The weekly WhatsApp bundle increases from 100 MB for ZAR 5.00 (US $0.35) to 250 MB for ZAR 10.00 (US $0.70). The daily offer increases from ZAR 1.00 (US $0.07) to ZAR 2.00 (US $0.14) and from 20 MB to 50 MB. MTN’s Twitter bundles now come with 100 MB for ZAR 5.00, rather than 20 MB for ZAR 1.00, and the weekly rate will change from 100 MB for ZAR 5.00 to 500 MB for ZAR 20.00 (US $1.40).

Mobile operators’ promotions often go from temporary to long-term, acquiring the feeling of permanence. While they are initially advertised as short-term, they tend to be extended because of their ongoing efficacy in bringing in new subscribers, and because existing subscribers come to expect that the services will be continued at the same price. And when the costs to the operator are small or vanishingly small, it is no problem for that operator to continue the “promotion” package indefinitely.
 
However, if the costs change due to external factors, it becomes necessary for the operator to re-evaluate whether it still makes good business sense to maintain the promotion. In the case of MTN South Africa, it is clear that when the nature of the use of the application changed, the cost to the operator increased. When the promotion was first offered, Twitter was used mainly for text content; over time, more and more data-consuming video content came to be posted on it, to the point where it was not only costing the operator in terms of data not charged for, but actually overburdening the network. Almost 2 petabytes of data is indeed a huge number. Under these circumstances, the operator could no longer afford to keep the zero-rating of Twitter data going, and therefore terminated the promotion.
 
While Twitter-intensive customers may be unhappy about this change, there are reasons to believe that by finally ending the promotion, MTN may be activating one of the main purposes of data-oriented promotions, that is, to grow the data-consumption habits of subscribers by offering the data free, and then charging for it. After more than four years of ever-increasing data use over Twitter on its network, MTN may be able to realize a return on that investment.
 
And, of course, it is still offering its subscribers deals on Twitter, as well as on WhatsApp, by way of discrete packages in two tiers, daily and weekly. The WhatsApp deals are slightly more generous, in terms of economies of scale, which makes sense in light of the fact that the OTT messaging service is likely less heavily used for video than Twitter is.



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 25, 2018

Mexican MVNO Admits “Unlimited” Data Plan is Capped at 5 Mbps

Mexican operator Unefon has admitted that its so-called “unlimited” data plans have a  speed limit of 5 Mbps, despite the fact that they run over AT&T’s 4G/LTE network. According to a news report, the MVNO acknowledged that speeds would be capped at 5 Mbps for a maximum of 5 GB of data a day, going down to 1 Mbps once that limit is reached. Users complained that Unefon did not publish information on speed limits when it's “unlimited data” plans were launched earlier this year.
 
Under the Unefon Ilimitado (Unlimited) plan, prepaid users topping up MXN 10.00 (US $0.50) and above will have access to unlimited data, minutes and SMS for one day. Users must top up at least MXN 70.00 (US $3.50) every 30 days in order to access the offer.
 
We have reported on many instances in which data plans that were described as “unlimited” by mobile operators have turned out to have hidden limits. Usually what that means is that there are allowances beyond which throttling is imposed. Sometimes it refers to situations in which certain users will be throttled regardless of data thresholds in times and places where there is congestion on the network.
 
In this case, something even less appealing to customers is going on. The service turns out to have an extremely low data speed, far below industry standards, which effectively limits the service even independently of any idea of data thresholds. The fact that there is a threshold, as well—a low one of 5 GB per day, after which the speed is lowered to almost dial-up levels—only adds insult to injury. And the fact that this low speed is being offered over a sophisticated network that is known to boast high speeds makes the negative impact on consumer confidence even bigger.
 
This story is an object lesson for operators in how not to handle network-related matters. Today’s consumers are savvier than ever about data and networks and have expectations that need to be met, regardless of budget. An MVNO cannot hope to keep prices down by compromising on quality to this extent. And perhaps more importantly, honesty and transparency are absolutely essential in this realm. To be caught misleading subscribers and then having to belatedly acknowledge the fact is very harmful to an operator’s brand.



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, 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