Vodafone Germany's LTE plans
At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Vodafone Germany announced more details on its LTE deployment plan than I've seen from many operators. The plan is also aggressive with 1000 towns and cities to have LTE by year end 2010, 1500 by next March and then nationwide coverage expected for the end of 2011. Bearing in mind that Vodafone is but one of the four operators to obtain LTE spectrum, it seems like Germany's going to be a good place to be if it's fast access that you're after. But how much will it be? Vodafone Germany also announced its pricing structure. In a nutshell, you could say - the more volume and speed you want, the more it will cost you. No surprises there. It's a tiered package starting at around €40 and reaching €70 at which point you can have 30GB of data and peak downloads of 50 Mb/s (should you need this much of course). But what of the future for LTE tariffs? Well our research suggests that there will be any number of different packages on offer. Examples include more tiered quotas by price, volume, time, time within volume, time of day, by application....the list of varieties is long. In fact this is one of the unknowns of LTE at this early stage, and Vodafone Germany has taken a bold yet leading step by its announcement. The jury, though, is out as to how tariffs will evolve in future. In many ways at the moment you're looking at packages that are very similar to existing packages for mobile broadband. After 2 to 3 years new services will emerge after application developers become aware of the increased capability of LTE although for the foreseeable future LTE will be seamless for the user with the same services as HSPA+ - often for capacity relief. But going forward, when we see subscriptions with multiple types of devices, plus value added services, tariffs are bound to change in our view. My view is that when tariffs are introduced, given the sheer variety of possibilities, the industry is going to need to be very careful how it communicates new tariffs to users are familiar with today's approaches. Today's tariffs are at least generally quite simple - $x for so many MB etc (even of you don't really know what a megabyte is!). Whilst price modelling can become very complex, simiplicity and clarity will be the order of the day when it comes to explaining to users how much they're likely to pay for their packages.