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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Vodafone Spain Bundles One Year of HBO with Prepaid Plans

Operator Vodafone Spain offered one year of free access to the HBO España video-on-demand service to new customers who subscribed to its Superyuser and Megayuser prepaid plans between 20 November and 27 November. The latest promotion in the operator’s “Black Friday” campaign allowed new customers to activate the HBO España service for 12 months by 31 January 2018, as long as they remain subscribed to the chosen tariff.
 
HBO España was launched as a stand-alone VoD platform in May 2016 and reached 414,000 Spanish households at the end of June 2017.
 
Prepaid plans are a good way for operators to gain customers who, mainly for budgetary reasons, want the flexibility and short-term, non-binding nature of such offers. The down side, from an operator’s point of view, is the relative impermanence of prepaid customers. Converting such customers to long-term subscribers has always been a priority with operators, and the current HBO promotion from Vodafone Spain is intended as a means of getting prepaid customers to stay on longer. And if they do, there is more chance that eventually they could be converted to postpaid.
 
One year’s worth of cost-free access to HBO España is quite a generous offer, in our view. To keep it, though, new subscribers need to remain in their prepaid plans. So there is a significant incentive here for them to keep subscribing for at least a year. That is ample time for them to form a relationship with the operator that they may well wish to continue and even deepen in the future.



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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ooredoo Qatar Offers International Top-Ups for Third-Party Mobile, Data, and TV Services

Operator Ooredoo Qatar has debuted a new feature for its Ooredoo Money service, which enables customers to top up phone and entertainment services abroad for family and friends. With International Top-Up, users of Ooredoo Money can recharge any prepaid mobile number in over 140 countries, buy data products for any operator in 14 countries, and make digital TV subscription payments for selected countries.
 
Customers can make International Top-Ups through the Ooredoo Money app or with USSD quick codes, entering the top-up amount in local currency and confirming. The Ooredoo Money app is also available in Arabic, English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali, Tagalog and Nepali.
 
Allowing customers to top up the balances of family members’ and friends’ accounts is a long-standing practice in prepaid plans. In this example from Ooredoo Qatar, the operator is using mobile money to expand the concept beyond the traditional parameters.
 
With the vast proliferation of mobile money systems and the growth of interoperability, it is now possible to use platforms such as Ooredoo Money to make payments to a multitude of entities all over the world. It is clever of the operator to take advantage of this capability to make it possible to enlarge the family-and-friends-top-up concept to include other operators and even other products beyond garden-variety top-ups.
 
For an MNO to give its customers the ability to pay for other operators’ services might seem a bit counterintuitive, at least compared to the idea of topping up other accounts within the operator’s ecosystem, but in today’s ultra-connected world, other operators are really part of any operator’s ecosystem. By encouraging top-ups to the accounts of other operators, Oordeoo is in fact insuring that its own subscribers will continue to have solvent and vigorous communication partners among family and friends, and by keeping lines of communication active, this offer will likely ensure that Oordeoo subscribers continue to spend money—and, it is hoped, more money—on their own bills with Ooredoo.
 
Adding more sophisticated, value-added products to the menu of options for purchasing for others (albeit not in nearly as broad a swath of markets as the basic top-ups) makes sense, since more and more users are sharing data-intensive features with each other while using their devices. Streaming entertainment products are an example, and another is mobile gaming, in which there is a social aspect to a data-consuming activity that requires communication between users to work. While we are not sure if this is one of the products Ooredoo’s International Top-Up is including, it would be a good idea under this concept. 



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, November 21, 2017

Altice Introduces Lock-Screen Mobile Advertising in Portugal

Altice has launched Free Net & More, a new mobile advertising format that allows advertisers to take advantage of a device’s lock screen. Users unlock their smartphones on average more than 100 times a day, which creates the opportunity to show 100 daily announcements per user. Taking advantage of this potential, the Free Net & More app, developed by New Zealand start-up Postr, has launched in the Portuguese market with Altice, under its brands Meo and Moche. Available for Android smartphones, the app allows customers to view advertisements on their screens and, in return, receive up to 250 MB free every 30 days.
 
As we have reported on several occasions recently, mobile advertising represents a major and fast-growing source of revenue for mobile operators—not to mention for the companies that are advertising and those that furnish the technology for it. Postr’s Free Net & More app, being implemented in Portugal by Altice, is a new and evidently more invasive approach. As such, it has the potential to command more attention from users than other formats, and therefore could drive more revenue to Altice.
 
However, it could very well prove to be invasive enough—due to the ubiquity of the home screen and the number of times it is accessed each day—to annoy users and create at least some amount of resentment. The offer of 250 MB of bonus data in return for using the app is clearly intended as fair compensation, but we suspect that 250 MB may be too small an amount of data for today’s data-hungry consumers to achieve the desired effect. And the very idea of being asked to turn one’s device—a very personal aspect of life for most users—into a near-constant source of advertising messages may be offensive to many, to the point of causing harm to Altice’s brands in Portugal. 



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, November 16, 2017

Lumos, MTN Partner in Solar Power Service in Cote d’Ivoire

Nigeria-based Lumos Global has officially launched a new, nationwide solar electricity service for Cote d’Ivoire, in partnership with mobile operator MTN Cote d’Ivoire. The Lumos Mobile Electricity Service aims to bring power to people who do not currently have access to an affordable, reliable or clean energy supply. The service is paid for using mobile phone credit and is available to all of the approximately 10.5 million MTN Cote d’Ivoire subscribers.
 
Minister for Economic Infrastructure Amede Koffi Kouakou, Lumos and MTN Cote d’Ivoire announced that the service will now be available in MTN stores across the country. The Lumos service has been available in neighboring Nigeria since 2016 and has experienced rapid growth; over 65,000 systems have been sold, providing 250,000 people with electricity. The service is enabling thousands of children to study into the evening, and it powers clinics and community centers across Nigeria.
 
 
Lumos’ solar energy product is aimed at providing electricity to people who live “off the grid” of conventional electricity suppliers. In rural Africa, large proportions of the population live off the grid, in remote areas, so initiatives like Lumos’ will be welcome, and solar energy in particular is appropriate to the climate.
 
Partnering with a mobile operator is an innovative and interesting approach for Lumos. It is not strictly speaking necessary in order for the service to be established, but it seems to us like an excellent synergy. In sub-Saharan Africa, making payments for a wide variety of goods and services via mobile money services linked to MNOs has become a way of life for many, especially in the rural areas. In this partnership agreement, solar-generated electricity will be paid for by MTN subscribers directly through their mobile credit with the operator, not through a broader mobile-money service such as M-Pesa.
 
For MTN (whose parent company is based in South Africa), the deal is a promising branding opportunity that associates the operator with a social good in Cote d’Ivoire and will likely create positive perceptions. Beyond that, though, it could have positive effects on the operator’s subscriber base. Consider that lack of electrical power in a region could have a very adverse effect on mobile subscriptions—without the ability to easily charge devices, people may not believe it worth their while or even possible to have a subscription. And since in order to pay for electricity in the underserved regions, an MTN account is necessary, the initiative stands to significantly boost uptake for the operator.
 
For now, at least, the deal is an exclusive for MTN. But since that limits access to the service, it seems that it would be in the interest of Lumos to expand the arrangement to include subscribers of other operators, in particular Orange, the country’s other major MNO. But at least for now, the initiative represents an important opportunity for MTN. 


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, November 13, 2017

TIM Brasil Offers Bonus Data on Prepaid Plans

Operator TIM Brasil is introducing a new offer of bonus mobile data with multiple top-ups. When customers contract an offer for the second week in a row, they earn 250 MB of data. In the third week, the bonus is 500 MB. From the fourth consecutive week on, users earn an additional 1 GB every seven days. In other words, they will receive 2 GB or 2.5 GB of internet per week, as well as unlimited calls to TIM numbers, 100 minutes of calls to any operator in Brazil, free messages on WhatsApp without deduction from the data allowance and streaming music via TIM Som de Chamada or TIM Music by Deezer (depending on the offer).

This bonus data offer is intended by TIM to incentivize customers to renew their 1 GB and 1.5 GB prepaid packages, which cost BRL 9.99 (US $3.03) and BRL 19.99 (US $6.07) per week, respectively. If the customer renews continuously for a month or more, the bonus amounts increase to the point where the offer is very generous indeed.


Beyond simply encouraging topping up, the offers could have the effect of changing consumer usage habits over time and possibly aid in converting prepaid users into postpaid users. In fact, a user who wants this much data and does not use the prepaid offers intermittently as need be but rather uses them consistent, almost as if they were postpaid, really should be a postpaid user. TIM’s bonus data offer is structured more according to a postpaid logic than to a prepaid logic. If enough prepaid users take it up, it could have the effect of creating a new group of reliable high-data-demand, long-term subscribers. But if it is offering people more data than they need, on conditions that they do not need to meet, then it will not take off.



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, November 8, 2017

Vodafone Announces Own-Brand Consumer IoT System and Products

London-based multinational operator Vodafone has announced the launch of a new consumer-oriented Internet of Things (IoT) platform called V by Vodafone. The product range already includes a connected car dongle (V-Car), a 4G/LTE security camera (V-Camera), a pet location and activity tracker (V-Pet) and a bag location tracker (V-Bag).
 
The company said it has started shipping a dedicated IoT SIM called V-Sim by Vodafone as standard with IoT-enabled consumer electronics products; the SIM card will also be offered by third-party retailers next year. The corresponding V by Vodafone smartphone app gives a single and intuitive overview of all IoT-enabled products registered to an account, and customers simply need to scan a QR code on a product’s package and add the monthly fee to their existing Vodafone mobile accounts to activate the product.
 
The products come with automatic straight-out-of-the-box connection to the international Vodafone IoT network in any of 32 countries and a single fixed monthly price plan for each item. The company said existing mobile customers in Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. can already purchase any of the launch products in selected Vodafone stores or online. The operator will launch additional IoT categories in 2018, along with a new online product marketplace open to IoT developers with a view to extending the product choice for customers.
 
With IoT coming on fast internationally, we think it is a good move for any mobile operator to get involved, and for a multinational operator with vast reach and resources, such as Vodafone, it is a strong strategy to get heavily involved. Going beyond simply providing the connectivity for IoT, Vodafone is producing its own devices running on its own system, in essence branding and owning a significant slice of this global market. According to the operator, by 2020 there will be more than 370 million consumer electronics and smart home devices in the countries in which it operates, up from around 50 million today.
 
For the moment, at least, it does not appear that Vodafone’s IoT products are unique or transformative; Vodafone customers will be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere and may do so at will. But Vodafone’s strategy of creating a one-stop shop that not only offers the devices for sale in the same place but also integrates them into one control system accessible through an app should make the system very attractive to its customers. Combine that with the fact that Vodafone customers already have a level of trust and familiarity with the operator—and with the fact that the billing is extremely simple and seamless—and the offer becomes very persuasive.
 
In the era of declining ARPU from traditional services, operators of all kinds and sizes have been looking for new revenue sources and new sources of customer relevance. With IoT, a new and very broad area of consumer (and, to some extent, enterprise) revenue opens up. By co-opting it and self-branding it, Vodafone is potentially tapping into a vital stream of revenue, strengthening its brand, and keeping customers within its ecosystem. Other large operators will likely be doing the same.


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, November 1, 2017

Verizon Wireless to Stop Throttling Video Speeds on Unlimited Plans

U.S. MNO Verizon Wireless has announced that starting on 3 November it is removing restrictions on video speeds for subscribers to its unlimited-data plans. In late August, the operator imposed limits on video streaming, with the lower-priced GoUnlimited offering 480p and the higher-priced BeyondUnlimited offering 780p. The 1080p speed was no longer available on any smartphones, even those with the capability of accommodating it; only on tablets would subscribers be able to access 1080p video. Now Verizon is allowing video streaming up to the maximum possible for any given device, as a plan add-on, at the cost of US 10.00 per month.
 
While the cost of this add-on will not break the bank for high-end users already paying for “unlimited” data and running sophisticated devices, it may annoy some, in that the operator is now charging customers for a service that was free and taken for granted only several months ago. Presumably Verizon heard complaints from users about lower video quality due to speed limits, but rather than simply restoring them it decided to impose a charge. The charge could have the positive effects for the operator such as bringing in revenue, discouraging network congestion, or both, but it could also create some bad publicity for it.
 
Criticism of U.S. operators for plans that are advertised as “unlimited” but actually contain limits has been ongoing for a while now, and U.S. regulators have warned them not to throttle ordinary data speeds. Limiting video quality (“DVD-quality” versus various degrees of “HD”) is in a different category, but the practice nonetheless strikes many consumers as undesirable. With continuous increases in smartphone quality, more and more users are watching video on these devices, and demand for a high-quality moving image is increasing accordingly. Therefore, charging for a feature that used to be free is an issue that will affect a significant number of customers and so could have a negative effect on perceptions of Verizon.
 
On the other hand, Verizon is not alone in charging extra for high-definition video streaming. AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint all do so, and the pricing is comparable to Verizon’s. Perhaps, then, unlimited access to video speed at no extra charge is a thing of the past, and U.S. customers will simply have to get used to paying extra for the highest quality. 


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