Mobile Plans and Rates: Keeping Up
New services and plans are constantly being developed by mobile operators worldwide, and multinational enterprises need to continually monitor the landscape.
Mobile charges change often enough in the U.S.; if your enterprise is international, the mobile plans and rates change with such frequency in just about every country that those managing mobile service contracts will never be able to keep up to date. What is the best business plan and best consumer plan for BYOD in a particular country?
New services and plans are constantly being developed by mobile operators worldwide, and enterprise users (in particular, those with multinational operations) need to continually monitor the mobile landscape. How do the enterprises doing international business ensure that they receive the best value and services currently available? Most companies lack the resources or expertise to follow the entire mobile industry and must instead rely on third party experts to monitor it for them.
I interviewed Richard Dorfman, the Managing Director at T3i Group, a diversified telecom information provider that is the parent company of Tarifica, an international tariff information service. He has overall responsibility for managing the company's pricing practice.
Tarifica publishes rates and plans for domestic and international mobile services. What is this market like now?
Our service covers 183 mobile operators in 60 countries. We find that on average each operator has a noteworthy change in rates and plans about every 90 days, sometimes sooner. It is a continuously volatile environment. There are many business and consumer plans, possibly dozens, to choose from in each country. The enterprise cannot assume that the plans of one country are similar to those of even a neighboring country.
What changes occur?
We find that data plans/rates change more frequently than voice plans/rates. We see:
* Less service for lower cost
* More service for more cost
* Rarely more service for less cost unless it is associated with a limited-time marketing promotion
Why are there constant changes in plans and rates?
Data usage continues to grow. More entertainment transmissions, more video, more Internet access, and even the growth of VoIP all are pushing the capacity limits of the mobile operators. The reactions by the mobile operators have been:
* Place a cap on the data consumption
* Charge more for exceeding the cap
* Slowing the data rate when a cap is exceeded
All of these are in reaction to the limited bandwidth available to the mobile operators. We also find that there is strong competition in some regions that stimulates constant rate and plan changes.
Where do most of the changes occur?
We find the most volatile areas are in Asia, non-EU Europe and Latin America. That does not mean that the rest of the world has long-term stable rates and plans. What it does mean is that the rates and plans change in those locations less frequently.
What have enterprises asked for in tariff reporting from you?
First and foremost, they look to us for insight and information regarding the rates and plans offered in those countries in which they do business. This information serves as "ammunition" which can be used to get the best rates available, and most appropriate plans, from their current operator. For those clients that purchase one or both of our database products, they also want to be able to manipulate the data contained therein. That is why we publish the information in Excel spreadsheets. This allows the client to easily manipulate the data to suit its specific needs, including running comparisons of the plans offered by various operators in a particular country. How many rates and plans can one mobile operator offer?
Let’s take one mobile operator, Austria Orange, and look at what they offer. Today, there are 15 business plans and for the BYOD, 25 consumer plans. Each plan has voice minutes, SMS, MMS and data services with varying allowed usage within the plan. In France, Orange offers over 120 consumer plans which vary by device (Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) and 98 business plans. On top of this are the rates for national and international business and consumer call charges.
Sample Spreadsheet for Austria Orange Mobile Services
This is still a lot of information to process. How can a customer handle this wealth of information?
We offer a customized alert service for multinational corporations. This service matches the client's mobile providers against any changes we discover and then alerts the client to inspect their plans and rates as soon as we learn of the changes. This way the client does not have to review our Excel publications to determine if they need to change their plans or move to another mobile provider. It represents a simple, efficient, cost effective method for clients to stay on top of possible opportunities to lower their monthly mobile costs, which for a large multinational can translate into potentially substantial savings.
Tarifica, a unit of T3i Group, has been providing telecom pricing information for close to four decades. They maintain an in-depth and up-to-date pricing database, which includes mobile and fixed line rates from providers in 68 countries, as well as historical data going back to 1997. Tarifica subscribers include operators, regulators, enterprises and consultants. Tarifica also produces reports, surveys and custom analyses for clients in every region of the globe.