When Vodafone announced New Zealand’s first 4G network last month, the company didn’t announce larger data caps allowing customers to make full use of faster downloads.
In the short-term this may not matter. Early adopters put up with less than ideal conditions – many see this as the price they pay to get access to new technology.
Long term it will matter. Telecom will launch a competing 4G network before the end of the year and 2degrees will no doubt follow. The could be another market entrant.
Either way, data is one area where competitors can differentiate products.
Make no mistake, data use will increase. According to numbers from this year’s Mobile World Congress mobile devices exchanged 0.9 exabytes per month in 2012. An exabyte is a billion gigabytes.
Last year more mobile data moved through the airwaves than in all human history.
Mobile data traffic is growing at a compound rate of 66%. By 2017 wireless networks will move 11.2 exabytes.
The fastest growing sector will be machine to machine (M2M) communication which is growing at a compound rate of 89%.
Are 4G networks cursed?
New Zealand’s telecommunications companies planning to bid for the 700Mhz spectrum should listen to what their South Korean counterparts have to say about 4G mobile.
Korea’s top carriers warn that although the rollout of faster mobile networks has been good for consumers, they struggle to make money.
A report in Independent.ie says:
South Korea is often held up by European governments as the model they would most like to replicate, with superfast networks enabling millions of people to shop online, communicate and become more productive.
Yet the report goes on to say competition means SK Telecom Co Ltd and KT Corp have to fight for every customer. This means heavy marketing spends, handset subsidies and continually offering more for less.
The story says 30% of the 50 million South Koreans now use fast networks and while Korean customers spend more – an extra US$13 each on average – the money doesn’t cover the huge investment poured into the 4G networks.
We moved to Balmain Road in Chatswood, our house had reasonable, not great, reception on Vodafone New Zealand‘s network.
When my employer changed mobile provider to Telecom, my home coverage dropped – albeit on a different phone. I would miss incoming calls, only to find a stack of voice mail messages when I walked up the road.
A year ago, I left my job and switched back to Vodafone hoping to see better reception. If anything, Vodafone’s coverage was worse than Telecom’s. Something happened between the two dates – the arrival of 3G networks.
Incidentally my house is not in the 3G coverage area. And curiously, when there is reception my phone is serviced by Te Atatu about 5km across the harbour.
Shortly before Christmas I tried a 2degrees sim card in my phone. The reception is perfect. Five bars on the handset display and crisp, clear reception.