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Mobile data prices drop 25 percent

It seems Europeans just can’t get enough of mobile data at the moment. According to the GSMA, the market for mobile data skyrocketed by 40 percent to by €7 billion in 2007 while in the year to April 2008, the number of 3G users in the EU doubled to 112 million.

And guess what’s spurred all this take-up? Yep, cheaper prices for both the necessary kit and for the connection itself, with the GSMA reckoning that the cost of data roaming in the EU dropped by 25 percent in the year to April 2008 while European roaming traffic jumped by traffic grew 75 percent in the same time. The GSMA is also predicting that prices will fall further.

All good news, obviously, but with mobile broadband now definitely mature, I’d like to put in a request for the operators: can we have more tariffs where a single data bundle can be shared between a number of devices (phone, dongle, laptop, 3G-connected digital camera etc) with just one bill? Please?

2 replies on “Mobile data prices drop 25 percent”

…but for how long?

Many MNO's are privately concerned that mobile data is now being sold too cheap. There is a set cost to deliver the bits, based on 3G licence fees, network CAPEX/OPEX, marketing etc. Word is that cost is more than the current prices (0.00001p/Byte), which is about ten times too low.

<reaches for fag packet & biro>

7,000 sites X 3 sectors per site X 5 MNO's X 3 UMTS carriers each X 3.6Mbit/sec* = total mobile broadband capacity in the UK = 1,134,000Mbit/s capacity across the whole of the UK.

That's 141750 MBytes/sec. A big Greek number.

That's the equivalent of 17,718 8MB* ADSL connections.

(*Assuming the same lies, damn lies and Broadband speed figures apply to ADSL as to mobile)

So you have the whole of the UK mobile data subscriber base trying to share the equivalent of the BT broadband capacity delivered to Slough (assuming ~60% ADSL uptake, 4 people per household)

Now you could probably run a truck through some of my assumptions (drivers welcome), but the order-of-magnitude of the issue I think is about right. Mobile is not fixed line – the laws of physics and town planning say so. There should be a big premium for mobile data, but right now there isn't.

…so for how much longer can the networks meet consumer demand – demand that has only been created by low prices for something that is currently underutilised? The early adopters are already beginning to squeal. Look at the current press re mobile broadband speeds.

Hence why this recent load of bollocks in The Times is so wide of the mark it is just not funny. If I were one of the 'Experts' I'd be getting me coat about now. You have to wonder if the Times journo even asked an MNO for their opinion. Methinks not.

Prices needed to be this low to drive adoption and public awareness of the benefits of MBB. But it doesn't scale. Devices capable of consuming a lot of content are getting ever smaller/cheaper, and logic dictates more people will want to use them / cut the fixed-line cord. There are benefits for sure, but when the limits are reached and the finite mobile broadband resource becomes scarce (i.e. the experience becomes crap), MNO's will have to put prices up in order to limit demand and therefore deliver quality. Nice for MNO's.

Future iterations of 3G standards will deliver speed bumps, but IMHO user numbers and consumption/creation enablers will always exceed the ability to deliver.

So enjoy it while it lasts folks! It's downhill from here until the next release of mobile network software & devices gives us 14.4MB.

Opinions most welcome.

/m

…but for how long?

Many MNO's are privately concerned that mobile data is now being sold too cheap. There is a set cost to deliver the bits, based on 3G licence fees, network CAPEX/OPEX, marketing etc. Word is that cost is more than the current prices (0.00001p/Byte), which is about ten times too low.

<reaches for fag packet & biro>

7,000 sites X 3 sectors per site X 5 MNO's X 3 UMTS carriers each X 3.6Mbit/sec* = total mobile broadband capacity in the UK = 1,134,000Mbit/s capacity across the whole of the UK.

That's 141750 MBytes/sec. A big Greek number.

That's the equivalent of 17,718 8MB* ADSL connections.

(*Assuming the same lies, damn lies and Broadband speed figures apply to ADSL as to mobile)

So you have the whole of the UK mobile data subscriber base trying to share the equivalent of the BT broadband capacity delivered to Slough (assuming ~60% ADSL uptake, 4 people per household)

Now you could probably run a truck through some of my assumptions (drivers welcome), but the order-of-magnitude of the issue I think is about right. Mobile is not fixed line – the laws of physics and town planning say so. There should be a big premium for mobile data, but right now there isn't.

…so for how much longer can the networks meet consumer demand – demand that has only been created by low prices for something that is currently underutilised? The early adopters are already beginning to squeal. Look at the current press re mobile broadband speeds.

Hence why this recent load of bollocks in The Times is so wide of the mark it is just not funny. If I were one of the 'Experts' I'd be getting me coat about now. You have to wonder if the Times journo even asked an MNO for their opinion. Methinks not.

Prices needed to be this low to drive adoption and public awareness of the benefits of MBB. But it doesn't scale. Devices capable of consuming a lot of content are getting ever smaller/cheaper, and logic dictates more people will want to use them / cut the fixed-line cord. There are benefits for sure, but when the limits are reached and the finite mobile broadband resource becomes scarce (i.e. the experience becomes crap), MNO's will have to put prices up in order to limit demand and therefore deliver quality. Nice for MNO's.

Future iterations of 3G standards will deliver speed bumps, but IMHO user numbers and consumption/creation enablers will always exceed the ability to deliver.

So enjoy it while it lasts folks! It's downhill from here until the next release of mobile network software & devices gives us 14.4MB.

Opinions most welcome.

/m

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