By Tue From Hermansen, Director, Mobile Data and Advanced Networks, MACH
CDMA & GSM carriers around the world have recently made tremendous headway in establishing an environment that protects subscribers against Data Roaming bill-shock on GPRS and 3G services. These efforts must continue with LTE-roaming. As mobile data speed increases exponentially with LTE and new IP-driven services are unleashed, increased granularity with regards to roaming download thresholds and pricing transparency is needed. Preparing now for what may come is critical for carriers that want to stay in the lead.
Price-setting in this early stage of a technology and experience evolution tends to be an experiment – balancing the golden triumvirate of perceived value, alternatives and cost. In a market where consumers are increasingly impatient, and speed in all dimensions of our business and leisure life can only increase, one should think that those consumers today feeling under-served by HSPA+ should be willing to pay more. However, from a practical point of view, consumers – as with the shift from GPRS over EDGE to 3G / HSPA – will struggle to understand when roaming, which type of network they are accessing and what the potential price differences might be.
It appears that wholesale roaming prices will broadly remain the same across the access technologies, reflecting that the majority of wholesale cost relates to bandwidth and signaling between networks. Technically it is possible to differentiate wholesale prices between GPRS and 3G, but so far there has not been much pickup on this topic in the industry.