Operators must sort data pricing soon

Operators are still struggling to develop effective pricing models for mobile data services, a senior executive at mobile data solutions provider Acision says.
Bob Hendricks, proposition marketing manager at the firm, says fresh research into quality of service suggests pricing remains a key battle ground for carriers, but notes that abandoning all-you-can-eat tariffs may not be the panacea many hoped for in terms of eking out maximum value from existing networks.
“There’s a clear correlation between unbundled [tariffs] and usage,” Hendricks told Telecoms Europe.net, noting that users remain petrified of bill shock and so won’t accept high additional charges for data services.
Unbundled pricing models were “a trigger” for people using mobile data services, he said noting that the rapid rise has led to several quality of service issues at major carriers in the US, UK, Australia and Singapore– all countries covered by Acision’s latest mobile broadband report, released this morning at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Its survey of 1,000 users in each market found that 80% hit service problems including coverage, slow speeds and dropped connections between June and November 2010.
“There’s a lot of dissatisfaction,” Hendricks explains, noting that “operators must improve the network or do something to improve quality.”
While consumers aren’t willing to swallow high data charges, 63% of those surveyed said they would pay for value added services, including additional fees for optimized data services. Hendricks says that creates an opportunity for operators to differentiate core services. “People want to have a personalized service.”
Subscribers are also open to the idea of network controls to improve overall service quality, Hendricks says, comparing such optimization efforts to traffic lights on a road network because they cause some restrictions but maintain the overall flow of traffic.
Such efforts would allow carriers to prioritize business traffic during office hours, Hendricks notes.
However, the main lesson for carriers from the report is that they must start being honest with subscribers.
“Demand is outstripping what we can provide. Operators should communicate restrictions to consumers,” he said.