11/5/2008 11:16:00 AM
Bundle honesty with dongles
There has been a giddy excitement around mobile broadband over the last few months. Almost as if we, as an industry, cannot believe our luck that something has magically turned up to pick up the slack where traditional mobile phone sales have dropped off. And isn’t it brilliant? Brand new revenue for everyone, no termination fees, long contracts, the chance to cross-sell and sales rising month after month.
It would be easy to stand from the sidelines and criticise the operators for failing to have adequate infrastructure in place ahead of building up sales, but the reality is that the pressure not to miss out on the boom was simply too great. But now, operators have had to square up to what happens after these things are sold. Our understanding is that return levels are far from disastrous, but there is a rumbling issue that needs to be addressed. There is enough evidence to suggest that plenty of customers are either returning their dongles or grudgingly sticking with them despite frustrations over speed and coverage.
As an increasing amount of online usage is data intensive sites such as YouTube and the BBC iPlayer, there is greater importance to clarify that the speeds consumers have been accustomed to through fixed-line broadband are not realistic through a 3G device – especially inside buildings in urban areas.
It requires a long-term view that a sale today is not necessarily worth much if the customer is dissatisfied. Exaggerations are evident in sales pitches and advertisements instead of an accurate appraisal of the service. Returns and disappointments blighted the formative years of many consumers’ first mobile phones, with coverage and broken calls a familiar experience in the 1990s. It would be a shame to repeat those mistakes.