4G pricing: Case studies

Dianne Northfield/Tolaga Research
As LTE markets mature, many operators that have launched services are adjusting their commercial rate plans. Greater innovation in LTE pricing and packaging is occurring as MNOs gain more understanding of market demand and usage patterns, and as a result of competition. Operators are also refining their service offers as they augment their LTE networks with newly deployment spectrum resources and as 4G compatible device portfolios expand.
 
Discernible pricing trends include new promotions and discount offers, increases in advertised service speeds, the introduction of shared plans and the expansion of rate plan offers to cater for different user segments. This article reviews pricing plan adjustments at five LTE operators around the world.
   
Speed and data allowances
 
EE is seeking to exploit its first-mover advantage in the UK. Since launching its LTE service in October 2012, it has made a number of adjustments to its LTE plans. For example, last November EE upped the data usage caps on its mobile broadband plans without a corresponding increase in prices. Its 2GB capped plans increased to 3GB, 3GB plans grew to 5GB and existing 5GB plans increased to an 8GB allowance.
 
EE has also introduced a lower 1GB MBB plan. EE's smartphone plans are based on 12- and 24-month contracts with data allowances ranging from 500MB per month to 20GB. The 20GB plan was introduced in January. Prior to this EE's highest smartphone plan offered 8GB of data a month.
 
In July EE announced a number of new service plans and features including:
  • A doubling of service downlink speed of between 24 and 30 Mbps available for no additional cost for existing customers (EE launched its LTE service advertising a downlink speed range of 8 to 12 Mbps).
  • The introduction of shared service plans allowing up to five devices under a single data plan.
  • A 30-day pay-as-you-go SIM plan with a 2GB data cap.
When Omantel, operating as Ooredoo, launched its LTE service in July 2012, it did so using TDD spectrum in the 2.3-GHz range. It initially offered MBB only service plans with USB devices. With regulatory permission to refarm its 1800-MHz FDD spectrum holdings in December 2012, Omantel was now in a position to introduce 4G LTE Smartphones and plans.
 
The operator announced price reductions in July for a range of its smartphones targeted to different user requirements. The Huawei Ascend P1 now retails for RO99 ($257) while the Nokia Lumina 820 is offered for RO120 ($311). On the higher end, customers can purchase the Nokia Lumina 920 and the Samsung Galaxy SIII for RO180 ($468). These prices compare with the Samsung Galaxy S4 introduced in May 2013 at a retail price of RO290 ($753).

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