Why is Mobile Internet Adoption still languishing?

I was contacted yesterday by a member of the press who amongst other things asked me what I thought were the key factors that were still holding back mass market adoption of mobile data services despite the increasing media enthusiasm for this activity. With a company that has been offering a mobile internet service since 2006 I have encountered a lot of problems, but the 2 that are highest on my list are incorrect settings/provisioning of handsets and the lack of financial safeguards offered by operators to those who dare to use mobile data services.

I thought it might be helpful to outline these issues with some examples, so here are some typical findings:

Operators aren’t doing enough to make the simple things work:

On 23 December 2010, “3 Ireland” (H3G Ireland) had the good idea to send me a “Christmas” MMS – presumably to show their appreciation for my custom:

Unfortunately it wouldn’t open.

To the normal mobile user this abysmal user experience discourages any further interest and use of MMS. This also has a knock on effect in customer expectation of other multimedia services (eg. Mobile Video Calling)

Operator pricing models that penalise customers

Here is the information from Vodafone Ireland’s website detailing Mobile Internet Costs:

PRE- and POST- PAY Data Rates:

360 Data Rates:

So let’s us just suppose a customer engages in the quite typical activity of finding a video clip that they want to download, clicking a link and accepting to download it. The phone will then start the process of downloading the file in the background.

Unfortunately, and customer has accepted the download of a file that is “3GB” in size.

The costs faced by the Vodafone Ireland subscriber are going to be as follows:

For a Pay Monthly customer:

They’ll pay for the day they use the service + 3022 MB extra (3GB – 50MB) (at €1 per MB)

€0.99c + €3022 = €3,022.99

For a Pay Monthly Customer who decides to buy the “Mobile Internet add on – 1Gb per month for just €9.99”:

They’ll pay for the internet add on + an extra 2GB (at €5 per MB)

€9.99 + €10240 = €10,249.99

For a Prepay (pay as you go) customer:

They’ll pay a daily use rate of 99c (for first 50MB) + an extra 3022 MB (at €20 per MB)

€0.99 + €60440 = €60,440.99

For a “Vodafone 360” customer (with a tailor-made or compatible handset)

~40c for the day (covers first 100MB) + an extra 2972 MB (eg. 3GB less 100MB) (at €1 per MB)

€0.40 + €2972 = €2,972.40

.
Finding these a little bit on the ridiculous side and with the confusing interchanging use of GB and MB (1 GigaByte = 1024 MegaBytes) I called their sales line to check that these calculations are correct (which I recorded with permission) and I also confirmed another ridiculous oversight: Except for the PrePay customers (who will just use up the balance of their remaining credit) there are no credit limits in place for data downloads. So in effect a customer would be allowed to download 3 of these videos and the first thing they’ll know about it is when when they get the bill.

About 3G Doctor

The Corporate Blog of 3G Doctor
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