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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hungarian Data Roaming Doubles After End of Surcharges

The number of Hungarians who use mobile internet abroad since the elimination of roaming fees in the EU on 15 June 2017 has nearly doubled compared to when the fees still applied, according to a research study whose results have just been published. Some 900,000 people used data roaming when the study was conducted in October 2017. In addition to that, nearly 2.5 million Hungarian subscribers used roaming for making or receiving calls and 1.8 million used it for texting.
 
More than a third (37 percent) of respondents reported using mobile data in another EU country since the scrapping of fees. Not only has the number of data roamers grown, but they also go online abroad more often since they need to rely less on Wi-Fi for connectivity. Of all respondents who reported using roaming for voice calls, 12 percent had never done so before the policy change. Seven percent of respondents reported that they took up texting after the change.
 
Mobile operators had long opposed the European Commission’s plans to ban surcharges for roaming usage. When the ban finally went through, after much debate and many reversals, there was serious concern in the industry about loss of revenue. Now that some time has passed in which to assess the actual impact of the policy change, studies such as this one in Hungary can provide some perspective on the matter.
 
Among Hungarian mobile subscribers, within just four months of the end of the surcharges, the study at hand recorded a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of who used data while traveling in EU countries. It is certainly reasonable to expect that that number has grown significantly by now. And as the study pointed out, not only the number of roaming-data users but the amount of data consumed per user has likely also increased.
 
As a result, Hungarian MNOs have seen and will continue to see major growth in mobile data usage among Hungarian travelers in the EU. As a trend, this is encouraging, though whether it will fully offset the loss of roaming-surcharge revenue is not currently possible to tell.




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, February 13, 2018

Etisalat Announces Mobile POS Service

UAE operator Etisalat announced the launch of a point-of-sale (POS) service for small and medium businesses called Mobile Cashier, which enables businesses to accept card payments from their customers anywhere in the UAE. The service transforms merchants’ phones or tablets into business-grade point-of-sale terminals, enabling them to accept debit, credit and prepaid cards in a secure and simple-to-use environment.
 
Mobile Cashier includes bundled point-of-sale terminals, mobile voice and data plans, a free smartphone every year, and zero-percent bank commission. Users need to download the application on their smartphone and connect a pocket-sized card reader, and then they can start accepting payments in retail stores or on the go.
 
The entry-level plan starts at AED 119.00 (US $32.39) per month. In addition, customers can opt for the monthly bundled Essential plans, which include zero-percent bank commission, local and international minutes, mobile internet, intra-company calling, and a free smartphone every year. The Essential plans start at AED 199.00 (US $54.17) per month.
 
This mobile POS service from Etisalat is a good example of a type of value-added service that does not have to come from an MNO but is the very thing for an MNO to offer. In other words, Etisalat is creating a valuable new opportunity for itself to derive some revenue from a fast-growing technology that depends on mobile connectivity but is not necessarily branded by mobile operators. By creating its own POS system and providing customers with the hardware they need to use it, Etisalat is positioning itself to profit not only from the data used in POS transactions but, more so, from the monthly tariffs involved.
 
We feel this is a savvy way for the operator to strengthen its relationship with SMBs. Not only should it help upsell existing SMB customers to Mobile Cashier, but with the addition of the Essential suite of plans, it should be able to attract new SMBs to Etisalat. For businesses looking for a complete package, the Essential plans offer what appears to be just that—voice, data, free devices, and intra-company calling, as well as the Mobile Cashier functionality. And the price increase over the basic Mobile Cashier service is not very high. Finally, the agreements that Etisalat must have reached with the banks to be able to extend a no-commission offer must have cost the operator something, but if the offer proves a good enough selling point, it will have been well worth it.




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, February 8, 2018

Finnish Youth Are the Biggest Mobile Data Users in the World





















Finns aged 18–25 lead the world when it comes to mobile data consumption, according to Telia Finland, the country’s largest mobile operator. This demographic uses about 30 GB of data per month, approximately three times what the average Finn uses per month. Their number of calls and text messages does not differ significantly from the rest of the population, it said.
 
Young people in Finland speak for an average of 180 minutes per month, only 10 minutes less than the rest of the population, according to Telia business manager Petri Lindqvist. They send about 18 SMS, compared with about 35 SMS per month for the average Finn.
 
In December 2017, the most popular phone among Telia subscribers aged 18–25 was the Apple iPhone X, followed by the Huawei Honor 9, the Samsung Galaxy S8, with the iPhone 8 taking fourth place and the iPhone 8 Plus taking fifth.
 
 
We have written frequently about the distinctive mobile usage habits of the youth demographic in many markets, and the value of this slice of the population to mobile operators. Now this result from Finland, one of the most highly developed mobile markets in the world, assigns a dramatic number to the question: Young adults use three times as much data as the rest of the population.
 
While this statistic is an outlier, given that Finnish youth are literally number one in the entire world, it is still very indicative of the stark disparity between the youth market and everyone else. It contains a clear directive to operators to continue to cultivate this group of users and cater to their needs, not only for present revenue but to build something for the future. Because it is virtually certain that these customers will not suddenly reduce their data consumption as soon as they turn 26. The usage habits of the youth demographic are a forecast of the usage habits of the whole population in the years to come.
 
In Finland, an affluent society that is particularly addicted to mobile technology (the home of Nokia is, after all, one of the places that made the mobile world we now all live in), youth may not have to be heavily incentivized to consume a lot of data. The preference of youth there for expensive high-end phones such as the iPhone X indicates that they have plenty of disposable cash. In other markets, however, getting the most out of youth customers may require discounting data and devices in the hope of cultivating habits that will persist once their income levels go up.
 
Finally, one interesting takeaway from this report is that while the voice and SMS usage patterns of Finnish youth are not distinctive in the way that their data usage is, at least where voice is concerned, they have not abandoned traditional services. (The lower quantity of SMS among youth is likely due to their greater use of OTT messaging services.) Operators in developed markets will probably be able to count on continued support for voice even from those who are on the cutting edge of exploiting everything that high-speed data can do.



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, February 5, 2018

U.S. Government Proposes Creating Its Own 5G Network

The U.S. National Security Council (NSC), a federal agency, is recommending that the U.S. government establish its own 5G network, in order to guard against potential cyber attacks and spying by China. A memo drafted by a senior NSC official, obtained by news organizations, states that the government should create such a network within the next three years, and pay for it by itself. Another option suggested in the memo would be for the country’s major MNOs to operate as a consortium to build the network themselves, in accordance with the government’s proposed enhanced security standards.
 
The memo explains that the reason for such initiatives is that “China has achieved a dominant position in the manufacture and operation of network infrastructure” and is also “the dominant malicious actor in the Information Domain.” According to reports, the Trump administration was considering endorsing the NSC’s recommendation, but in response to reports about the memo, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, who is a Trump appointee, condemned the idea, as did USTelecom, a trade group representing mobile and fixed network operators.  
 
Pai told the New York Times, “The market, not the government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment. Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future. Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom, said, “There is nothing that would slam the brakes more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be leader in the global race for 5G network deployment.”
 
It seems that the NSC’s proposal has been met with extreme displeasure from both sides of the telecom equation—from regulators and operators alike. That alone would seem to make its chances of going forward quite slim. Nonetheless, the issues raised shed some light on the potential conflict between two sets of priorities, both of which are taken seriously by almost all actors involved.
 
On the one hand, there is a real need for increased security against cyber attacks and spying that could disrupt business, governmental and even military operations. As the United States moves toward the next generation of super-high-speed broadband, vulnerabilities in this regard will inevitably be more costly and damaging than before. So the incentive is there to prioritize security and to achieve the needed uniformity as well as the high standards by imposing a fiat solution.
 
One the other hand, the idea of nationalizing anything is fundamentally alien to U.S. political culture. The belief that the private sector is best at innovation and that government is inefficient is held on both sides of the ideological divide, although it is more deeply ingrained among Republicans. So it is not surprising that Pai, while a regulator, takes the side of the mobile industry on this particular question—as it was also not surprising that he did not support net neutrality.
 
So it seems extremely unlikely that a nationalized 5G network will ever be launched in the United States. And South Korea currently seems to be a likelier candidate than the United States to become the “leader in the global race for 5G network deployment.” Of course it is not possible for us to assess the true level of threat to the U.S. mobile infrastructure, now or in the near future, from China. Nonetheless, the current flap concerning 5G at least illuminates the degree to which the priorities of cybersecurity and market freedom could come into conflict. And it also points to the necessity for the major MNOs in the United States to work together to create high-quality 5G networks and integrate them in a way that maximizes security.



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, January 29, 2018

Telstra Smart Home in Australia Features Amazon Echo

Australian operator Telstra has announced that, starting in February, it will be supporting Amazon’s voice-activated assistant Alexa on the Amazon Echo devices, and that it will integrate with Telstra Smart Home by the end of February. Alexa will be customized for the Australian market, connected to specifically Australian content sources, and with the virtual assistant provided with an Australian accent for her advent into that country’s market.
 
Australian customers will be able to ask Alexa to check the weather, traffic and sports scores, as well as to play music and set music alarms and timers. In addition to these functions, Telstra’s integration will allow Telstra Smart Home customers more opportunities to set up in-home automations and control their Telstra Smart Home compatible lights, smart plugs, and Zen thermostat, all through the Alexa service.
 
Australian customers will be able to purchase Amazon Echo (2nd generation) and Amazon Echo Dot (2nd generation) from Telstra stores and online starting in early February, with the Telstra Smart Home integration and a new bundle coming soon after.
 
 
Alexa is finally arriving in Australia, and Telstra is getting ahead of the game not only by moving quickly to support the service but by integrating its smart home offering with it. IoT technologies, which are growing exponentially worldwide, have provided huge opportunities for industry but also for consumers, in particular smart home systems. Forward-looking operators have identified these systems as an opportunity to provide value-added services that go well beyond traditional mobile and fixed offerings and help these operators achieve relevance in the changing marketplace.
 
Creating a proprietary smart home system instead of merely providing the data to drive a third-party system is a proactive approach for an operator such as Telstra to take. And now, integrating such a system with the Alexa assistant seems like the appropriate next step—and one that will furnish a great deal of seamless functionality.
 
Partnering with Amazon to make it possible for Telstra subscribers to control their Telstra Smart Home systems via Alexa makes a great deal of sense and will not only drive revenue to the operator (via data use as well as increased uptake of Telstra Smart Home systems) but also enhance its brand by association with Amazon’s very popular and long-awaited Alexa.



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, January 23, 2018

Cell C to Raise Price of WhatsApp Bundle

South African operator Cell C has announced that on 1 February it will increase the price of its WhatsApp bundle from ZAR 12.00 (US $0.97) to ZAR 15.00 (US $1.22), according to a report. The bundle provides access to the OTT messaging and voice service for 30 days and has a fair usage limit of 600 MB.
 
The operator introduced a WhatsApp bundle in October 2014 as a promotion. When that promotion ended in August 2015, the company launched a WhatsApp bundle that cost ZAR 5.00 (US $0.41) a month, with a fair usage limit of 1 GB. In May 2016, Cell C raised the price of its WhatsApp bundle from ZAR 5.00 to ZAR 7.50 (US $0.61) but increased the fair use limit to 1.2 GB. On 1 February 2017, the operator raised the price of its WhatsApp bundle from ZAR 7.50 to ZAR 12.00 per month; on 1 October 2017, it lowered its fair usage limit to 600 MB.
 
Zero-rating is one of the strategies mobile operators have employed to deal with the competitive challenge presented by OTT players like WhatsApp. By discounting data for the use of a free (or nearly so) messaging and voice service, MNOs have been able to recoup some of their lost business, as well as mitigating the harm done to their customer relations by essentially bringing the OTT apps under the aegis of their brands. Offering better deals on messaging data has also been a way for operators to gain a competitive edge against each other.
 
In the case of Cell C’s WhatsApp bundle, we see a trend of raising prices and falling included-data limits. First offered on a promotional basis, the bundle became long-term. What we can conclude from the changes in pricing and data allowance is that over the past several years, Cell C’s plan to incentivize customers to use more data on WhatsApp has been effective. Now, it is expected that having grown accustomed to doing so, that subscribers will now be willing to pay more for the packages; the February 2017 increase almost doubled the price, and the current hike, while less drastic, is still substantial.
 
Furthermore, after slightly increasing the included data, Cell C then cut it in half, to 600 MB per month, and is keeping it there in the present pricing change. In short, the operator evidently believes that subscribers will be willing to purchase the package even if the data amount is significantly smaller. Most likely, with more overages occurring as a result, the operator will be able to derive more revenue from WhatsApp use.


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 18, 2018

Vodafone Germany to Increase Data in Young Packages

Vodafone Germany says it will increase the data volume included in its Young tariffs (for subscribers under the age of 28) and make these tariffs more flexible, according to a report. The operator will increase the amount of data in its Young S tariff from 1 GB to 2 GB; its Young M tariff will go from 3 GB to 4 GB, while the Young L tariff will contain 8 GB instead of 6 GB. The Young XL tariff will include 14 GB, up from 10 GB. The new tariff conditions will apply beginning on 17 January and will affect both new and existing customers. The prices of all the Young tariffs will remain the same as before.
 
Customers who use Vodafone’s GigaSwipe feature will now have the opportunity to increase the amount of data in their tariff by 2 GB instead of 1 GB, enabling users of the Young S tariff the chance to triple their data, to 3 GB per month. Under the Gigaswipe feature, customers can use the Vodafone app to trade their SMS flat rate for 1 GB of data, for example, or trade their Allnet Flat for 200 voice minutes and 1 GB of data.
 
The propensity of young users to consume large amounts of mobile data is well known, as is the general high value of young users to operators, even if their budgets are small. This across-the-board increase in data allowances for Vodafone’s under-28 subscribers without any cost increase will certainly find favor with the demographic, and will most likely help cultivate ever-greater data appetites in its members.
 
The data-increase increments get larger as the plans become richer, so there is also some incentive to upgrade in order to avail oneself of greater generosity. And the integration of the flexibility feature (GigaSwipe) already available for Youth plans with the data increases speaks to the overlap of young customers’ demands for flexibility and large amounts of data. In short, Vodafone is showing itself to be aware of the particular nature of the youth demographic and to be willing to tailor suites of plans accordingly and upgrade them periodically in order to keep them attractive.


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