Translate

Friday, February 15, 2019

Salt Launches Flat Tariff for Switzerland, EU, U.S. and Canada

Swiss operator Salt has introduced a new mobile flat tariff called Plus Europe, which is valid for Switzerland as well as for international and roaming calls to and within the EU, the U.S. and Canada.

The new Plus Europe subscriptions include unlimited full-speed internet (LTE+ up to 1 Gbps) within Switzerland; unlimited calls, SMS and MMS within Switzerland; unlimited calls, SMS and MMS from Switzerland to the EU, the U.S. and Canada; and unlimited data roaming and calls, SMS, MMS within the EU, the U.S. and Canada.

The Plus Europe tariff costs CHF 69.95 (US $69.78) a month without commitment, within a time-limited promotion, after which it will cost CHF 89.95 (US $89.73) a month.
  
Today’s consumers across a variety of market types, but especially in the advanced markets, are demanding both simplicity and flexibility—two features that do not always go together well. This offering from Salt (rebranded from Orange) appears to do both, in a way calculated to appeal to Swiss users who travel a good deal in other advanced marketplaces, the EU, the U.S. and Canada. Presumably they are mainly business travelers who will have a substantial need for data, voice and texting while on the go.

The simplicity lies in the “flat” nature of the plan: There is a single price that covers a variety of service options, and those options are accessible either in the home country or in the external regions.

The flexibility lies in several aspects of Plus Europe: For one thing, there is no contract, and contracts have been shown to be increasingly unpopular among both high-end and lower-end consumers. The plan is charged for on a simple monthly postpaid basis, no commitment. Then there are the service features, which have something for everyone—those who use mainly data will have unlimited access (unless there is “small print” that we are not aware of at the moment), while those who rely on voice, SMS and MMS will also be well served. The fact that roaming data costs the same as data in Switzerland is generous; however, the speeds found abroad will likely be lower, and certainly will not be LTE +. 

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.  If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact our Editor-in-chief John Dorfman at jdorfman@tarifica.com


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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Cambodia’s Smart Launches WeChat Go SIM for Chinese Tourists

Cambodian mobile operator Smart Axiata has launched the Smart WeChat Go SIM, a prepaid product for Chinese visitors. The product is a result of Smart’s partnership with the Chinese messaging and mobile payment services provider WeChat. Smart WeChat Go SIM is available in three variants. Visitors receive unlimited access to WeChat and the Lingcod TV app; they also receive up to 8 GB of data for internet access, calls to China, and on-net calls and SMS in Cambodia.

The SIM cards will be available for purchase in designated distribution points in China as well as in Cambodia, at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh International Airports. In Cambodia, the three SIM types will be priced at US $3.00, US $5.00 and US $7.00, respectively. Smart WeChat Go SIM users can manage their usage through WeChat’s self-help mini-program in the Chinese language.

By 2020, nearly 2 million tourists from China are expected to visit Cambodia. An offer that is aimed at them is likely a very good idea for Smart, which can expect to sell a lot of SIMs to this fast-growing target market. And partnering with WeChat, which more than dominates the Chinese mobile market, is a natural way of doing it.

WeChat is the international brand name for the platform known in Chinese as Weixin (meaning “micro-message”). Developed by Chinese multinational Tencent, it combines a messaging service, its own social media and a mobile money functionality. It has more than 1 billion monthly active users, and more than 90 percent of its subscribers are based in China. WeChat also has very sophisticated business-oriented variations of its service. The influence and penetration of this so-called “super-app” outstrips anything the other OTT messaging apps, including WhatsApp, can do. That makes it in many ways a desirable partner for any operator outside China that is interested in developing a vigorous relationship with Chinese nationals.

The one potential problem for some operators in partnering with WeChat is that users in China have accused the app of participating with the Chinese government in censorship and surveillance efforts, and there are concerns globally about WeChat’s security or lack thereof. This cautionary note is being heard, but in markets such as Cambodia, these issues may be outweighed by the revenue opportunities and by the need to maintain a close relationship with China. In other markets, such as in the West, partnership with WeChat is likely to be less appealing and perhaps less necessary in any case.

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.  If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact our Editor-in-chief John Dorfman at jdorfman@tarifica.com

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

Friday, February 8, 2019

Vodafone Germany Offers Zero-Rated Data Gaming Pass

Vodafone Germany is offering a free gaming pass to subscribers of Young tariffs that were introduced in 2017, but subscribers of Young tariffs that debuted in 2016 will be charged €5.00 per month for the pass, as will subscribers to the operator’s Red tariffs from 2016 and 2017 and the Red + Allnet and Red + Data tariffs, according to a report. The pass provides zero-rating data for gaming.

The gaming pass is not available with the Red XL, Young XXL and Red + Kids options. It has a one-month minimum term, cannot be swapped with other passes and can only be used in Germany.

Vodafone has the right to offer its pass for EU roaming with a limit of 5 GB of data per month. The games currently available with the option for Android and iOS are Asphalt 9, Legends, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Dead Rivals, Elvenar, Forge of Empires, Hay Day, Pokemon GO and Warlords of Aternum.

As we have written in this space on a number of occasions, mobile online gaming has become a major sector of the mobile market, and since the increasingly rich-featured games consume very large amounts of data, they are a lucrative revenue opportunity for mobile operators as well as for game designers.

Targeted zero-rating of data has proved time and again to be a very reliable way of stimulating usage of mobile services. The strategy of encouraging greater usage by not charging and then imposing a charge once users have become habituated to higher levels of data consumption is tried and true, and widely implemented in markets where net-neutrality regulations do not stand in their way.

Promoting gaming usage on tariffs that are targeted to young users is particularly appropriate, given that gaming appeal especially, if not entirely, to this demographic. Vodafone’s Young suite of plans was introduced in 2016 for users aged 18 to 28 and includes flexibility and various discounted bundles—again, features that are particularly valuable to the youth demographic.

As to why the operator has chosen not to offer the free gaming pass to those who joined in 2016, it is possible that Vodafone feels that customers of longer standing are less likely to leave the operator and therefore do not need to be prioritized for retention-oriented marketing efforts. The fact that the offer is also not available to customers of other tariffs that are not in the Young group is explainable in terms of demographic preferences, with these other subscribers presumably much less likely to be interested in gaming. Nonetheless, anyone who is not a Young 2017 subscriber and is interested in gaming can still receive gaming data at a very low price, just €5.00, so the promotion reaches farther than it might at first appear. 


 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.  If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact our Editor-in-chief John Dorfman at jdorfman@tarifica.com

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Unlimited Calls and Data for One Euro

Vodafone Italia has launched a new promotion that gives selected customers unlimited calls, data and SMS for one week at a cost of €1.00 (US $1.14), according to a report. The offer, called Tutto Illimitato (“All Unlimited”), is being sent via SMS to certain customers. Once activated, subscribers have seven days to enjoy the benefits of the plan before it is automatically deactivated, at no additional cost. Unlike similar previous promotions, there are no daily data caps.

There is something intriguing about this promotional offer, which may stand to shed some light on consumer psychology. The operator says that it will award a very rich bonus—a full week of truly (we will assume this is true, although many “unlimited” offers in various markets have turned out to have hidden limits) unlimited service at nominal cost in all three basic service areas—to essentially random subscribers. Presumably the number of recipients will be quite small.

Therefore, we wonder exactly what the aim of the promotion is, and how it could bring benefits to the operator. For one thing, the prospect of all that free data descending on one by surprise could create a certain level of excitement among Vodafone customers, and that anticipation, perhaps akin to winning a lottery, could boost loyalty and brand enthusiasm. Since no one really expects to win, failure to win will not really disappoint anyone.

Most of those who do receive the promotion will, no doubt, go ahead and consume uncharacteristically large amounts of data and other services. That could lead to a heightened appreciation of what such mega-doses can accomplish in terms of using certain applications. The ultimate result could be that those individuals will then continue to use, if not such large amounts, then at least larger amounts than they formerly used. Furthermore, they may tell their friends and family about the new things they could accomplish using mobile devices, and that could have the ripple effect of encouraging them to use more data themselves. In addition, it is certainly conceivable that the Tutto Illimitato promotion could boost acquisition by luring subscribers from other operators, who would join Vodafone in the hope of being a lucky recipient of the bonus.

On the other hand, the random and quantitatively small scope of the promotion could cause it to have very little impact indeed on either retention, acquisition or revenue. Even in that case, though, the cost to the operator would be negligible. 


  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.  If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact our Editor-in-chief John Dorfman at jdorfman@tarifica.com

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

Monday, February 4, 2019

TPG Stops Mobile Network Rollout Due to Huawei Equipment Ban

Australian operator TPG Telecom has announced that “due to factors outside TPG control, it has decided to cease the rollout of its mobile network in Australia.” Since the announcement of its mobile network strategy in April 2017, TPG has been designing and implementing a mobile network based mainly on small-cell architecture. The principal equipment vendor selected for use in the network was Huawei, and the Chinese vendor was supposed to enable TPG’s upgrade to 5G. However, TPG said, in light of the Australian government’s announcement last August that it would prohibit the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks, that upgrade path has now been blocked.

Since that announcement, TPG has continued to deploy equipment which it had ordered from Huawei prior to the government’s ban, but having reached the decision point as to whether or not to place orders for additional Huawei equipment, TPG has concluded that “it does not make sense to invest further shareholder funds in a network that cannot be upgraded to 5G.”

The operator says it has already invested around AUD 100 million (US $71.8 million) in the network rollout. Prior to August 2018, it had acquired equipment for 1,500 sites, and to date it has fully or partially completed the implementation of around 900 small-cell sites. Additional capex of AUD 30 million (US $21.5 million) is already committed, TPG added.

In last week’s Story of the Week, we wrote about the Dutch government’s consideration of a plan to place restrictions on Chinese suppliers of equipment to build out 5G networks in the Netherlands. We pointed out that development of next-generation network technology without sufficient concern for security is risky, and that the particular risk of spying and disruption from China—to be achieved through Chinese-made equipment—makes it imperative to take seriously the idea of restricting the role of such equipment in 5G projects.

However, as the present example from Australia shows, that course of action is not without risks of its own—including foreclosing the possibility of 5G development in the case of some operators.

Australia did not ban all Chinese-made equipment, but last summer it did impose a total ban on equipment from one Chinese supplier, Huawei, which happens to be the biggest telecom equipment maker in the world. The resulting lack of access to its devices was enough to doom the 5G development of one operator, TPG, and as a consequence, of TPG’s entire mobile-network project.

TPG is an internet service provider and also owns Australia’s largest MVNO; it had been planning on becoming an MNO, as well—an ambition that now cannot be achieved. We should bear in mind that restrictions on Chinese equipment such as Australia’s will not necessarily have such as dramatic effect on other operators’ plans; TPG was building a network from the ground up, and since it was a new entrant into the MNO market, it was of course more vulnerable than established actors. Still, the case contains a lesson, which is that banning access to equipment, while potentially a very sound idea in terms of cybersecurity, can have a chilling effect on 5G and even 4G development, under certain circumstances.

Therefore, governments should bear that in mind and do whatever they can to make alternatives available and encourage technological development by every means possible. Just this week, German operator Deutsche Telekom warned that Europe would fall behind the U.S. and China if European governments ban Huawei equipment. The German government is currently considering a ban, and DT estimates that if enacted, it would delay the rollout of 5G by at least two years.

As a side note, we should point out that last week we quoted the former chief regulator of the U.S., Tom Wheeler, to the effect that in its effort to win the 5G “arms race,” the U.S. government is not doing enough to promote security. This week, a U.S. media report states that the U.S. is about to come out with a sweeping ban on U.S. companies using Chinese-made 5G equipment and is pressuring allies such as Britain and Poland to do likewise.

 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.  If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact our Editor-in-chief John Dorfman at jdorfman@tarifica.com

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Smart Deploys Web-based SMS Broadcast Platform

Philippine operator Smart Communications has deployed a service it calls Smart Infocast service in the Municipality of Clarin in Bohol. The web-based SMS broadcast platform is designed to enable the municipality to send weather updates, advisories, and other important information. The Smart Infocast service is expected to be of particular use to farmers; 85 percent of Clarin’s land area is agricultural. Through Infocast, information about agricultural methods and announcements relevant to farming can now be shared with those who need them.  

Amid all the talk about the data revolution and next-generation network development, it should be borne in mind that in many markets, the lowest mobile tech is often the most effective, at least at certain tasks.

In the Philippines, Smart is smart to recognize that the humble SMS, while on the decline in some place, is an excellent way to quickly and inexpensively communicate information to a rural population, many or most of whom may not have smartphones. Deploying the solution in a limited area could serve as a trial balloon of sorts, to see whether Infocast could have wider appeal.

While Infocast is not likely to be a major revenue driver for the operator, we believe that such public-minded services are useful to operators in that they increase goodwill and also raise the profile of the operator. Those among the target populations who are looking for a new MNO or looking to join a mobile network for the first time will be likely to think first of the operator that is offering the service.

 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, January 24, 2019

Dutch Government Mulls Restrictions on Chinese 5G Suppliers

The Dutch government may look at restricting the use of Chinese network equipment suppliers such as ZTE and Huawei in the conditions of the upcoming 5G tender, according to a news report. The China strategy that the state presented last year will also be taken into account, according to a spokesperson for the economic affairs ministry.

The Netherlands’ strategy looks to protect sensitive technology from Chinese state-supported companies. The Dutch intelligence service AIVD has already warned of Chinese spying activity in the Netherlands. 

Tim Sweijs, at the Centre for Strategic Studies in The Hague (HCSS), an organization that advises the Dutch government on international security trends, said that the 5G networks will be a utility to be used as vital infrastructure for the economy and society in the future. As such, it is not advisable to leave such networks to untrustworthy parties, he said.

Sweijs noted that Chinese suppliers do not need to be completely excluded from the roll-out of 5G networks, pointing to the example of BT, which uses Chinese suppliers for parts of its radio network, but not the core network.

Historically, mobile operators, technology suppliers, and national governments have been extremely motivated to pursue maximum speed in the deployment of next-generation networks, within the confines of economic feasibility. In the case of 5G, which is expected to be rolled out in advanced markets during 2019, there are reasons to believe that matters are different.

That is largely because of the nature of 5G itself and because of some of the purposes to which it can and will be put. It is also due in part to greater awareness across the board about the dangers of hacking.

5G networks offer higher speeds, of course—indeed, up to 100 times higher than 4G/LTE. But the 5G era, when it fully arrives, will offer more than just increased speed to make current applications of mobile technology work faster and more efficiently. It will enable technologies to operate that simply would not have been feasible under 4G. In other words, it will bring about a quantum leap rather than an incremental improvement.

This situation was explained lucidly in an article by former chief U.S. regulator Tom Wheeler, published this week in the New York Times. Wheeler, who chaired the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017, cited self-driving cars as a key example, writing, “The autonomous car is something vastly different, in which the 5G network allows computers to orchestrate a flood of information from multitudes of input sensors for real time, on-the-fly decision-making. It is estimated that the data output of a single autonomous vehicle in one day will be equal to today’s daily data output of three thousand people.” Wheeler argues that since 5G will enable this and other complex systems, many of which will profoundly affect the safety of human lives, the imperative to protect it from hacking is greater than with any mobile network to date. Because of 5G’s capacity to link devices and create a “smart” future, the stakes have been very significantly raised.

Wheeler, like the Dutch government regulators, points to China as a particular risk—in fact, the biggest risk right now. He believes that the U.S. is pursuing hurried development of next-generation networks while neglecting cybersecurity, in large part because of a Trump administration policy of treating the process as an “arms race” with China to be first in 5G. This is particularly ironic in that industry watchers generally identify China as the number-one cybersecurity threat to future U.S. 5G networks.

The government in the Netherlands is considering a more cautious approach. Aware that cooperation with Chinese technology companies could lead to introducing spyware into the country’s emerging 5G ecosystem, they may move to limit—though not entirely eliminate the involvement of these companies and their products, which are building blocks for 5G. Considering the degree of Chinese government control of Chinese companies, this would appear to be a wise strategy. While looking for technology partners other than Huawei and ZTE may slow down the development process to some extent, the delay, if there is one, would end up being very worthwhile in the long run. Mobile operators, of course, stand to benefit hugely from the development and widespread adoption of 5G, but we believe that caution is necessary—more so than ever before. 



 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