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GPRS plagued by Byzantine pricing

SMEs using European GPRS or 2.5G data services face highly complex pricing structures.

Inclusive megabyte pricing is the most commonly used tariff structure used by the 83 mobile operators across 31 countries, according to a survey by business consultant BroadGroup.

BroadGroup said that although prices in some volume categories showed examples of dramatic divergences, average prices showed consistency up to 50Mbytes. Beyond this volume, pricing behaviour was much more erratic.

Tariff tables revealed a multiplicity of taxes, excess charging tiers, roaming definitions, and pricing and billing increments.

Other inconsistencies also emerged, including the comparatively cheap GPRS pricing found in Eastern European and EU accession states.

“If it is accepted that customer perception of data is changing, and pricing needs to be accessible, the complexity associated with GPRS pricing must also change," said BroadGroup consultant Philip Low. "Impending bundling with WiFi or 3G imposes new constraints on GPRS tariffs, which in turn suggests that current structures are not sustainable if consistent pricing is to be achieved."

The report found that the average price for 10Mbytes of inclusive data was €12.80 (£8.80).

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