Thursday, July 21, 2011

KPN's new mobile tariffs bode ill for market share

KPN has announced new tariffs (from September 5) for its KPN and Hi brands on the Dutch mobile market (Telfort will follow at a later date), in response to the new Net Neutrality laws and decreasing revenues from voice and SMS. For our views on NN, see this post and this commentary.

It appears as though the new tariffs may need some tweaking:
  • There is one bundle for voice, SMS and data. This is not what consumers want, now that voice/SMS are being replaced by data.
  • If you buy more minutes/messages, you automatically buy more bits as well. Again, and for the same reason, this is not what consumers want. They want an inverse relationship, or even better: the ability to pick amounts separately.
  • Nobody knows what an MB is, how much MBs are spent on a video clip, etc. Moreover: usage may vary wildly from month to month.
  • Speeds are quite slow, not just the downlink (for some reason KPN's upper limit is 7.2 Mb/s, whereas other HSPA operators worldwide have arrived at 42 or even 84 Mb/s). At 0.1 Mb/s, the uplink will surely frustrate those trying to send an MMS.
  • Both brands are now offering no fewer than 24 different subscriptions.
  • The overage fees may not appear to be unusual, but in light of this, they are rather high for data. And KPN's 35 c/min for out-of-bundle minutes appears to be another rip-off, best to be avoided.
In fact, it looks like there is very little right about these new tariffs. Take a wild guess what will happen next to KPN's market share. And share price (down over 20% since the recent Investor Day). Add to that: deep trouble on the business market and a write-down coming for the shares bought back during the quarter.

The Q2 results are due July 26. We recommend you stay in bed and keep the curtains closed. That's what the marketing people did when they concocted the new tariffs.

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