Mobile broadband is now cheaper than ever and ‘free’ mobile broadband could be offered as early as 2009 according to broadband comparison site Top 10 Broadband. “With competition reaching its zenith in the mobile broadband market, it is only a matter of time before mobile broadband modems (aka ‘dongles’) are offered for free in conjunction with mobile phone packages in the same way as ISPs such as TalkTalk currently offer ‘free’ home broadband with home phone deals.” Says Jessica McArdle from Top 10 Broadband.
A series of price drops in the mobile broadband market mean that it is no longer perceived to be the luxury product it was two years ago. These price drops have led to mass market penetration mirroring the take off of mobile phones in the mid 1990s, when they went from status symbol to staple communication device. Considering the impact that mobile phones had on the home phone market, the writing could be on the wall for traditional home broadband.
McArdle continues: “The public has an insatiable appetite for cheap mobile broadband, and this hunger has led to packages that are cheaper, faster and more inclusive than they were two years ago. This move towards free mobile broadband is especially notable when you look at Vodafone’s current flagship mobile broadband offering. At just £15 a month this package is 65% cheaper, four times faster and three times more inclusive in terms of download allowance than its £45 equivalent of two years ago.”
Data charges too have fallen from £45 per Gb to just £3.57 per Gb (3’s current Mobile Broadband Max package) and £3.50 per Gb (T-Mobile’s current Web’n’Walk Max package).
Innovative design too has driven the take-off of mobile broadband and 3 have been the trend-setters in this market with the launch of their pink and black mobile broadband modems. Mobile broadband ‘dongles’ and ‘sticks’ currently on the market are better looking and more intelligent than the old-style mobile data cards that were very much the domain of tech-savvy business users. Not surprisingly mobile broadband has become particularly appealing to fashion-conscious younger markets.
The key mobile operators offering cut-price mobile broadband at present are 3, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange whose packages start at £10 and £15.
The future viability of mobile broadband relies on mobile phone operators working closely to implement developing standards such as mobile broadband ‘LTE’ (Long Term Evolution). The implementation of LTE will improve mobile spectral efficiency, improve quality and most importantly reduce data handling costs. With such advancements on the horizon, mobile broadband could well be offered for free as early as next year.