Three may not offer its unlimited All You Can Eat data for 4G services, its director of network strategy has said.
The operator is set to take part in the forthcoming 4G auction and will also get 1800MHz spectrum for 4G services from EE by September next year. Three’s growth has largely been attributed to its highly competitive unlimited internet proposition. While it only has a 10% share of the mobile market, it accounts for 43% of all mobile data traffic.
Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum’s Finally 4G event in Whitehall last week, Three’s Phil Sheppard, who leads the network strategy, said he thought offering unlimited data, as it does on 3G services, was ‘currently’ a sustainable business model. But he added: ‘In the longer term, there might be some changes towards different packages. Currently we have a network that will continue to grow and be supportive [of All You Can Eat data]. We need to look at the spectrum available and see what tariffs will fit.’
Despite the spectrum being released for the 4G auction, as well as a forthcoming sale of lucrative 700MHz spectrum later this decade, Sheppard said more needed to be done to satisfy the booming consumer and business demand for mobile data. He said: ‘The spectrum is available but the problem is we need a long time to clear it. Predominantly it is used by different industries and the Government but it is probably not as efficiently used as it should be.’
Meanwhile, O2’s chief technology officer Derek McManus said it will price 4G services higher than 3G because of the new services it will offer. EE has been criticised by some for its 4G pricing, which begins at around £4 above its typical contract ARPU of £32. McManus told delegates that the current sales model needs to change.
He said: ‘I guess customers will pay for what they value. I think there are many things that 4G will give us that customers will potentially value [but] we want to see a return.’ McManus said a big opportunity for businesses would be to use O2’s 4G network to offer new services to consumers. He added: ‘I would like to see increased pricing but based on value added to the technology.’
McManus backed recent comments by O2 CEO Ronan Dunne that it will be services rather than speeds that will be the key point of differentiation for its 4G services. He said: ‘Services are the opportunity that this investment and technology will provide. Think about the power of the technology and what it allows consumers to do... It offers UK PLC a chance to change its landscape and economy. The opportunities are potentially enormous.’
Author: Graeme Neill