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RESEARCH: EU Mobile Data Market growing rapidly driven by spread of Mobile Broadband
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 11.06.08 - 13:10:56 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 10719x
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According to a today published research by the GSM Association (GSM), the usage of mobile data services, which enable people to access the Internet, E-Mail and other multimedia on the move, is growing rapidly in the European Union as mobile broadband networks proliferate and prices fall. The EU's mobile data market (which excludes SMS text messages) grew by 40 % to 7 billion Euro in 2007 as operators invested more than 20 billion Euro in enhancing their mobile networks and services, according to research by Wireless Intelligence and consultancy AT Kearney. In the year to April 2008, the number of 3G users in the EU doubled to 112 million. Europe has adopted 3G faster than any other region of the world (The proportion of people in the EEA/EU27 using 3G is 22.5 % compared with 18.4 % in the U.S. and Canada and 3.7 % in Asia-Pacific, according to Wireless Intelligence).

The cost of 3G services, 3G handsets, 3G-enabled Laptops and dongles that enable laptops to connect to mobile broadband networks is falling steadily. In some European markets, mobile broadband services are now priced lower than comparable fixed-line broadband services. For example, mobile data services are available in the U.K. for as little as 10 pounds (13 Euro) a month and in Austria for 10 Euro a month.

The data also shows that the average retail price of sending a text message while roaming within the EU was 28 euro cents in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 31 euro cents for the sample in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Moreover, AT Kearney estimates (estimations are based on actual data supplied by 38 mobile operators, representing 59 % of users in the EU/EEA for the 12 months up to April 1st 2008) that the average retail price of data roaming, which enable travelers to access multimedia services using a mobile phone or laptop, fell by 25 % in the year to April 2008 in the EU and that EU data roaming traffic grew 75 % over the same period.
According to the research, the average retail price for downloading a megabyte of data while roaming within the EU was 5.06 Euro in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 5.62 Euro for the sample in the fourth quarter of 2007. AT Kearney also estimates that the average price of text messaging roaming services fell 18 per cent in the year to April 2008.

Many mobile operators now offer data services in large bundles for a flat fee and are introducing new measures to inform customers of their usage and the price of the service, giving customers better control over their spending and reducing the likelihood of unexpectedly high bills. Some operators, for example, send customers who reach the limit of their bundle a message warning them that they have exceeded their limit. Customers are then disconnected if they do not respond. One operator group even plans to cap monthly bills irrespective of usage.

"Competition, including from WiFi, is delivering dramatic reductions in the retail price of data services, which give mobile users the convenience of being able to access E-Mail, the Internet and other multimedia services wherever they travel within Europe," said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA. "We expect prices to continue to fall as operators further innovate around tariffs and more and more Europeans use these services as a part of their everyday lives."

The popularity of mobile E-Mail services with regular travelers is a good example of how the market is delivering highly successful data roaming services at attractive prices. Services that enable travelers to send and receive E-Mails within Europe, via a Blackberry or similar devices like Windows Mobile, are available for as little as 15 Euro a month.

Cheers ~ Arne

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