3 plays champ in data game

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Last month, 3 announced a range of offers to appeal to the prepay mobile internet market and to customers looking for mobile data products without lengthy ties.

3 says the move was to “shake up” the mobile broadband market by providing alternative products to its competitors’ propositions and offering ‘free’ internet on prepay, which its competitors do not provide.

The focus for 3 has shifted from tying customers in to longer 18 and 24-month contracts, to appealing to prepay customers with cheaper deals, and this way appealing to a range of people, who in the current economy do not wish to sign up to contracts.

In June, 3 launched the 3Pay prepay tariff offering free mobile internet. It also became the second network to launch a SIM-only mobile broadband deal after O2, but with more download capacity at a cheaper rate as well as the first free SIM-only deal to push its partnership with Skype.

3 suggests the decision to launch a wide range of mobile internet services has been a long time coming, and a natural progression for a mobile operator which has always run over 3G networks rather than slower second generation 2G infrastructures. “We’ve always focused on internet services. We are not a voice company,” says 3 UK head of internet services David Kerrigan (pictured).

3’s figures show a steady increase in data traffic being carried over the network, with a jump in data ARPU year-on-year to March 2009. 3 reported an increase of 33.5 per cent in ARPU generated by data accounting for around £11 of a customer’s bill spend.

“We’re still the market leader for mobile broadband, and by far,” claims Kerrigan.
Open philosophy

He says 3’s philosophy is to enable customers to access the internet in as many ways as possible when on the go, and providing the service at a cheap rate encourages customers to sign up to the network.

He says, this is also down to consumers demanding a lot more at a lower price without being bound to a long contract during economic uncertainty.

“We were the first to launch a prepay mobile broadband deal to show customers it can be affordable. Customers shouldn’t feel they are signing their lives away just to get a service which they should be able to get easily and freely,” says Kerrigan.

3 is able to provide mobile internet for free, even to prepay customers as a result of being a “lean” company without a long history in the market, claims Kerrigan.

As a result of not inheriting 2G network infrastructures, Kerrigan says 3 is able to focus all its efforts on developing its 3G network. It also means it does not have to fork out maintenance costs for two separate networks (2G and 3G) enabling it to reduce the cost of maintaining data traffic and pass the savings on to the customer.  

“We’re a smaller, leaner organisation. Our cost base has been built around the notion of creating the leading UK mobile broadband network,” says Kerrigan.

Full article in Mobile News issue 443 (July 13, 2009).

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