Tag Archives: Orange

Entry of White-Label Mobile Broadband Service

I guess it was just a matter of time before white-label mobile broadband service offerings entered the mobile data lexicon. Spanish PC manufacturer AIRIS has recently concluded a promotion offering a mobile broadband laptop bundle with no specific operator branding. The white-label offer shows how mobile broadband is rapidly becoming a commodity in Spain and in most of Europe. AIRIS ran the promotion (see picture) with Spanish national daily newspaper El Mundo, offering a free ultra-portable laptop and modem to anyone who collected vouchers from the newspaper and signed up for either a 12-month contract with Telefonica or a 24-month contract with Orange Spain. Although the terms of the contract are not any more favourable than those offered directly by mobile operators, the lack of operator branding shows that operators are not the only players pushing bundled mobile broadband offers in Spain. 

The reason for such white-label mobile broadband offers in Spain becomes apparent when you consider that close to 30% of Spanish households have neither PCs nor fixed broadband – a ready target for mobile operators, PC vendors and who knows what in the future. This number is actually higher in Portugal (60%), Greece (40%), Italy (40%) as well as France (30%). Expect such white-label services to be launched in these countries very soon.

The flood of new MVNOs in Spain (most of them through Orange) has been the primary reason why non-mobile operators such as fixed Internet service providers are launching mobile broadband services. In addition to AIRIS, Spanish broadband operators Jazztel and Ono have also recently launched mobile broadband packages. Jazztel is offering both a prepaid tariff costing €0.20 per megabyte and a contract offering 250MB for €7.95 a month. The company offers its mobile Internet service as an extension to the mobile voice service it launched in June through its MVNO agreement with Orange.

Cable operator Ono is also promoting “free” mobile broadband up to 5MB a day under the brand BAMG (Banda Ancha Movil Gratis) for users who buy a dual- or triple-play bundle of TV, phone and fixed Internet. KPN-backed Simyo (offered through Orange again), for example, is undercutting the three network operators by offering up to 5GB of data transfer over HSPA for €24.99 a month, with no fixed contract length. While the data packages of Jazztel and Ono are fairly limited, KPN-Simyo has aggressively priced its mobile broadband offering – traditionally Telefonica and Vodafone have not been too willing to bring down the mobile broadband pricing premium (which is close to 45% above that of fixed broadband), Orange which has probably a lot less to lose has thrown the gauntlet through its MVNO partner.

1 Comment

Filed under fixed broadband, HSPA, mobile broadband

3G Embedded Netbooks – Killer Product?

The relative success of Asus Eee PC has created a new product category – netbooks, also called Mobile Internet Devices (MID) or Ultra-Low Cost PCs (ULPCs). Never to shy away from new product hype, ABI research has promptly come out with a forecast calling for over 200 million of these little fellas by 2013. A quick note – this is the same size as today’s worldwide laptop market! The report probably assumes (like Michael Dell does) that mobile operators will play a significant role in pushing these babies out, bundled along with their 3G data plans – with subsidies to boot. This model is no different from the one where the operator subsidises expensive phones to sell a voice plan. 

 Given that netbooks are all about always-on connectivity, 3G in addition to WiFi is a must for this product category. This leads to the question – does it have to be built-in? I feel that the answer is yes. I am aware of the arguments against embedding 3G functionality in laptops. However, if you recall, PCMCIA cards were the initial enablers for WiFi connectivity – I still have one of those lying around somewhere. But convenience coupled with declines in module costs drove OEMs to deliver laptops with integrated WiFi functionality. The same trend is likely to be repeated with integrated 3G as well. To begin with, USB dongles hanging out of netbooks will look pretty awkward – in addition, embedded antennas down the side of a screen will deliver a better signal that translates into higher speeds. Instant 3G connectivity when the netbook is turned on, similar to WiFi, will also be a key selling point. Finally, mobile operators may end up driving this product category and the OEMs will have little choice other than partnering with the operators.  Recent events seem to bear this out. Vodafone announced that it will start selling Dell’s Inspiron Mini 9 ultra-mobile device with built-in mobile broadband, exclusively through Vodafone stores and online, and directly from Dell, in key European markets. More mobile operators are launching netbooks with integrated 3G modem functionality in partnership with OEMs.  T-Mobile Germany announced that it will be selling the Asus Eee PC 901 Go with integrated mobile broadband. The announcement also states that the 3G connection will be up and running when the netbook is switched on similar to WiFi. Acer, the world’s third largest PC vendor, is reportedly in talks with several 3G (third-mobile operators such as Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile in Taiwan, as well as T-Mobile International, Vodafone Group and Orange in Europe to supply netbooks with built-in 3G.

6 Comments

Filed under HSPA, mobile broadband, netbooks