Study says high costs hindering 3G

19 Oct 2006

Despite mobile phone providers' endeavours to recruit 3G customers, third generation technology remains a low priority for mobile users across the globe - and cost is the overriding factor.

The annual Global Technology Insight (GTI) study by market information company, TNS has identified little increase in 3G technology usage amongst consumers, who see the offer of mobile TV and surfing the net as costly and unnecessary services.

At a global level, almost a quarter of people cite cost as the main obstacle to them using 3G (23%); a further 22% say cost puts them off using Wi-Fi technology. A fifth of people (21%) are not downloading songs to their mobile primarily because of the expense, and 23% choose not to surf the internet on their phone because it costs too much to do so.

With technology providers promising better-than-ever quality viewing and faster connections, it may seem surprising that 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities have fallen close to the bottom of the mobile phone feature 'wishlist'.

In fact, fewer people today aspire to have these facilities than they did a year ago, according to the TNS study (7% of those surveyed in 2005 listed 3G as a priority feature to have on future mobile phones, compared with just 4 per cent in 2006).

And although more people now have 3G phones than ever before (20% of mobile users worldwide) less than half (9%) are using their 3G capability. Of the 26% of people who have Wi-Fi access through their phones (including Smartphones and PDA phones), just 11% are using it - and mobile TV is no more popular, with only 9 of the 21 per cent of people with mobile TV-capable phones actually using this service.

Despite widespread publicity about cost-effective service packages, mobile providers are still not giving their customers what they want - and people are having to purchase 3G packages that don't suit.

The TNS study found that by far the most popular methods of payment for 3G and Wi-Fi enabled services are buffet-style price plans - either 'pay once for unlimited use', 'fixed monthly sum for unlimited use' or having the service bundled as part of the overall contract. However, many customers are being forced into paying per kilobyte used or paying each time a service is used - which is not popular amongst consumers.

Hanis Harun, Global Director, TNS Technology, comments; 'Given that cost is such a key obstacle to the adoption of more advanced mobile services, mobile operators must provide pricing regimes which are fixed for unlimited use, transparent and affordable.

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