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Why 4G might mean a very different contract

Posted by Darren Willsher on 2nd October 2012

Imagine that you’re running a business. The majority of the products cost you anything up to £400 a go and the government wants several £billion to let you deliver the service, ignoring the infrastructure and running costs you’ve got to factor in as well. Then imagine you give the products away for free and charge customers £30 a month to try and make it back.

Mad right?

But this is what mobile operators have been doing for years.

Now I’m not suggesting mobile operators are charity cases struggling to make ends meet, but one of the big themes from the recent HetNet conference (and plenty of others) is that the pricing model needs to change. Something that is already starting to happen with data caps, Wi-Fi charges and information capture forms on previously free services.

Taking away the toys

However this hasn’t been going down well with the subscribers. People don’t want to pay for things they’ve always got for free. Some don’t even want to share some basic contact information in exchange for free Wi-Fi. This presents a massive challenge for the marketing teams, how on earth do you try and present this as a good thing?

The hard sell

There isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ answer here (sorry), but the move to 4G/LTE presents a significant opportunity to change perceptions on what it is we pay our network operators for and what we should expect from them.

Subject to the Ofcom meeting later today, the industry has a great opportunity here, asking customers to sign up to a different pricing model but in return for services and data speeds they’ve never experienced before – all the while explaining to them just why the pricing has changed.

For marketing and PR teams this is a different sell and one that credits the general public with more than they’re used to. However they need to get this right – with profits shrinking and costs growing they need to act now before it’s too late.

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.