Monday, December 09, 2013

LTE will only add to pricing pressure

LTE delivers higher speeds, more reliable broadband, faster call set-up times, better voice quality and a prospect of continuous technology upgrades: LTE-A (advanced: carrier aggregation), LTE-B (broadcast or multicast), better competition with fixed-line broadband (DSL) and ultimately 5G.

There's a clear parallel with FTTH: high capex now (when densification and FTTS are taken into account), lower opex later.

Incumbents see an opportunity to raise prices, based on the LTE benefits and capex. But challengers (3UK, T-Mobile NL) and newcomers (Free Mobile, possibly Tele2 NL) will lower prices based on the desire to gain market share, the exploitation of LTE/FTTS capacity and opex.

It remains to be seen how aggressive Tele2 NL will be. They are not a true newcomer, but migrating from MVNO to MNO. Current pricing depends on wholesale tariffs set by T-Mobile NL, its MVNO (and LTE network sharing) partner. Migration will be slow, so prices may not be lowered at the launch (2014?) of Tele2 NL's own LTE network.

Ultimately, LTE will add to pricing pressure - as long as there's sufficient competition.

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