As 3G increasingly moves into the territory of public wireless hotspots, operators should make sure their pricing and integration strategies are right, warns industry commentator Analysys.
The company argues that instead of directly competing with wireless LANs (WLANs), the 3G operators should offer more integration with WLAN services, particularly as WLANs offer greater bandwidth to enable really big downloads.
Analysys says 3G operators should take a leaf out of T-Mobile’s book, which is offering users of its 3G data card integration with over 400 T-Mobile wireless hotspots around the UK, as part of the same tariff.
And although users enjoy the simplicity of the “all you can eat” bandwidth tariffs available from the 3G operators at a premium, Analysys warns that the model is not really sustainable for many operators as they need a better return on each megabyte downloaded by their customers.
The main five operators in the UK of course paid a total of £23bn for their 3G licences four years ago, and Analysys’ warning on returns indicates that one or more of the five might either hit the buffers or be acquired by one of the other players.
Vodafone is the most cash rich of the five, and commentators in the past have predicted it could move on one of the other four.