AT&T: Taking Charge of Its Mobile Broadband Services?

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: Simo Isomaki | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

While I was painting something in my garage (and waiting for it to dry) this past week, I was surfing the Web on my E90 Communicator and reading about AT&T’s recent announcement.  I think the communications service provider’s (CSP) move to pricing ‘bucket plans’ for its mobile broadband offerings is a very interesting one—compelling me to write a blog post…

What AT&T announced was that consumers with smartphones can choose a DataPlus package, pay USD $15 a month and get to download 200 MB of data.  They will also receive a notification when they near the quota limit and a warning about additional charges for exceeding the 200 MB.  Alternatively, consumers can go with the CSP’s DataPro package, pay USD $25 a month and get to download 2 GB of data.  Otherwise, this package principally works in the same way as the former.

After digesting this a bit, I saw many similarities between these plans—with a monthly subscription, an online quota management and a selective bucket, extra usage pay as more is charged and a notification of nearing the quota—and the type of capabilities offered by Comptel Control and Charge, which are currently being explored by CSPs worldwide.  But that’s not all… With Comptel’s solution, CSPs can, for example, offer fixed-mobile convergent quotas and service-specific quotas or exclusions, such as streaming music or downloading it from iTunes or Spotify, so that it does not consume the entire limit.

It is becoming more and more evident that ‘all-you-can-eat’ types of mobile broadband propositions are being converted into something more value-based and limited.  Although the limit may be large—like AT&T’s offering, where 200 MB is enough for 65% of users and only 2% exceed 2 GB—it is still there, preventing excessive usage or charging for high usage, and thus either creating new revenue opportunities or limiting (and guiding) customers’ behaviours in some way.

AT&T’s case is not the only example around, but it seems to be quite clearly well-defined and focused on a classic issue associated with mobile broadband.  I think it is a fairly fair policy and definitely a case where the CSP is taking charge of its services.

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