Saturday, 3 May 2008

Vodafone - Can this bring a new revolution in the telecom industry?

Vodafone is offering unlimited internet access as a standard feature of its new monthly mobile price plans, driven by an increasing amount of people accessing social networking sites and e-mail from their phones.
The Newbury-based group is the first mobile phone operator in the UK to offer the unlimited deal with all its monthly tariffs, although O2 currently offers an unlimited deal for its iPhone customers.

Vodafone hopes the new flat rate policy will fuel use of the internet on mobiles, as operators search for additional ways to generate revenue in a saturated market.
Earlier this year the group announced it was cutting 450 middle management jobs and hiring nearly 500 sales and retail staff as it attempts to increase its share of the competitive mobile internet and broadband market.

Take up of internet on mobiles has been hampered by complicated pricing structures which limit the amount of data you can download. Because few people know what a megabyte actually means in terms of internet usage, customers have been nervous about wracking up hefty bills through browsing.

The launch of the iPhone towards the end of last year saw a surge in mobile data traffic, with Google confirming in February it had received 50 times more searches from the iPhone than from any other mobile handset. Apple’s new 3G version of the iPhone, which could be launched as soon as next month, is expected to boost mobile internet use further as it will provide access to the faster 3G network.

Al Russell, head of mobile internet and content services at Vodafone, said: “Many people already have phones that can browse the internet so they don’t need to buy new ones. A lot of people are worried about how to use the internet on their phones. Our staff will put the phones in their hands and show them how to do it in two minutes. And they don’t have to worry about the cost.”
Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone company by revenue, said internet access would be automatically bundled in with all its new pay plans for no extra charge, with prices starting from £25 per month. Until now customers had to buy an additional internet bundle for £7.50, with a cap of 120 megabytes per month.

However, Vodafone’s “unlimited” package does in fact have a limit: it is subject to a “fair usage policy” of 500 megabytes per month. Users will not be penalised if they overstep the limit but the company said excessive abusers would be contacted.

The top three internet sites on Vodafone Mobile Internet are Facebook, Google and the BBC, while the top three searches by customers are Facebook, Bebo and eBay.

With this new offer, clearly Vodafone is sending signals to the industry that it is ready to take up the competiton aggressively. Can this change the face of telecom industry. Whatever may be the outcome, customers, surely, are going to smile the way.

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