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UK CEO says mobile broadband will not replace fixed

09 апреля 2008

Mobile operator puts emphasis on speed and simple pricing for mobile broadband; plans less focus on content services.

3 UK on Tuesday set out its aspirations for further mobilising the Internet in the coming years, and predicted that the U.K. market will have more than 1 million mobile broadband users by the end of this year. But the U.K. mobile operator's CEO Kevin Russell also made it clear that he does not expect mobile broadband to overtake fixed services.

"I don't believe mobile broadband is as good as fixed," said Russell during a round table. "I'm not going to bang a drum and say mobile will replace fixed."

But 3 insists that mobile broadband has a very important role to play and presents a huge opportunity for mobile operators. Indeed, the
U.K.'s smallest mobile operator has now placed the emphasis firmly on mobile broadband, saying that data usage on its network increased sevenfold from October to February.

"If we replaced fixed broadband, that would be the nirvana," Russell added. "But that is not going to happen.
Mobile will fuel a new marketplace."

On the other hand, 3 will concentrate less on developing mobile content and applications. Russell said email, voice over IP and instant messaging will be the three areas "we will push hard on".

"We want to tighten the focus on mobile broadband," said Russell. There are some bandwagons 3 is not big enough to jump on, he added. He said 3 needs to be a more focused company and not get distracted by services such as mobile TV. He also noted that the company will continue to follow an own-brand handsets strategy, as this enables it to offer more disruptive services such as Skype.

In the interests of simplifying its prices, Russell also said if applications providers want to charge for their service, that cost will be passed directly onto the consumer. "This should not be absorbed by the operator," he said.

Russell said current mobile broadband development "is exciting", but stressed that the industry needs to go a step beyond what is now on offer, by increasingly mobilising the Internet on handsets.

"Take-up is now being driven more by [laptop] dongles than by handsets and modems," he said. "We have work to do with handset manufacturers to make sure that phones can cope as well as dongles."

Russell also welcomed the idea of SIM-only laptops: "Yes, why not," he said.

Russell said the impact of HSDPA has been huge, and conceded that 3
UK was something of "a laggard" in launching the services, compared with its counterpart in Sweden. But the U.K. mobile operator plans to open up the throttle and gradually increase speeds from 3.6 Mbps now, to 7.2 Mbps next year and 14.4 Mbps in 2009.

As well as speed, Russell said price simplicity is also crucial. 3
UK now offers mobile broadband at £10 per month for 1 gigabyte of data, £15 for 3 gigabytes and £25 for 7 gigabytes.

"We haven't gone unlimited yet," he said. "But we have competitive price points."

Russell conceded that the industry has often been criticised for providing much slower broadband speeds than advertised, and he warned that the industry is in danger of using the marketing practises of "used car salesmen".

He said there is still a real danger of over-selling on speeds.

Источник: Total Telecom

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