Here’s a warning about jumping too far onto the mobile broadband bandwagon. Selling it as an alternative to fixed broadband will fail in both the U.S and Europe. That’s according to a new survey from Analysys Mason.
The report, The Connected Consumer Survey 2: Mobile Broadband, says there is a strong, and correct, perception among consumers that mobile broadband is slower, less reliable and more expensive than fixed broadband. Seventy percent of those surveyed had that opinion. Where consumers have a choice between fixed and mobile broadband, mobile broadband, the report says, should not be sold as the primary means of access, but as a complement. Six-thousand consumers were interviewed for the study.
Customers are also becoming increasingly happy with their fixed broadband service. Of those who said they were not interested in mobile broadband, nearly three in four (72 percent) said it was because they are happy with their fixed service (up from 65 percent last year).
“The positive message for service providers is that customers have realistic expectations for mobile broadband, and are not taking it to be a direct equivalent to fixed broadband,” says Tom Rebbeck, research director at Analysys Mason and author of the report. “If they were, they would likely be disappointed. To sell mobile broadband as a substitute for fixed broadband would mean cutting prices while providing a poorer service – something that is unlikely to be satisfactory in the long term. About 13 percent of mobile broadband subscribers are already planning to drop the service. By comparison, less than 1 percent of subscribers intend to abandon their mobile voice service.”
The factors that might attract consumers who are not currently considering mobile broadband – price reductions and network improvements – would be costly to implement. Prices are already low in many markets and, given the cost pressure on mobile broadband, it is unlikely that operators will reduce them further, the report says.
If consumers realize the mobile broadband is not a substitute for fixed broadband, then why are equipment vendors and some wireless proponents still pushing it for such? The United States still does not allocate enough spectrum to provide a full range of broadband services wirelessly to an entire city. It is a great solution for voice and data, but falls short for video especially HD and 3D. Having said that there may be some applications in low density rural areas where wireless solutions are a cost-effective alternative to fiber. In this case there will be fewer subscribers sharing the bandwidth which would be sufficient for voice, data, and IP-TV. Wireless is a great solution for mobile applications and ones where a wired infrastructure is cost prohibitive…and consumers know that.