I made mention before, to the point of dreariness, the ups and downs (almost entirely downs) of Exetel's attempts to find a realistic data over 3/4G service offering that we can add true value to and provide at a realistic price. Nothing has changed in terms of the likelihood of our being successful in this 'search' but I was interested to look at 3's latest announcement:
It's been almost a year since we tested the 3 data over mobile service and, if I remember correctly, the Exetel personnel who tested it found it to be a consistent 1.5 mbps or better service within the various different coverage areas in which it was used.
When we, more recently, tested the Optus equivalent we found it to be a little slower on average but more consistent when traveling from point to point by car or train - assuming that has any real relevance in the overwhelming majority of user's needs.
Similar results were found with the Vodafone service with the speed slightly better than the Optus service but signal continuity while traveling not quite as good as Optus but better than 3.
We've never tried the Telstra service as that has never been offered to us.
I was interested inthe latest round of price reductions recently announced by 3:
and I assume that both Vodafone and Optus will respond with a 're-jigging' of their own offerings in the not too distant future.
All very 'as predicted' and likely to continue for the remainder of 2008.
So I'm glad that on the two occasions we reached the point of signing a contract for a data over 3G service we decided against proceeding - we'd look very silly trying to compete with today's offerings if we had actually proceeded.
How much lower the prices for this type of service will go in terms of dollars per gb of traffic allowance will go is, of course, impossible to predict but, it seems to me, that it will need a new version of the technology to provide both an increase in speed and a more cost effective way of utilising the limited 'band width' capacities available for GSM traffic.
What is now very interesting is that these services are now, truly, lower cost (to the user) than the wire line equivalents and even more widely available than ADSL1.
As all four mobile providers say they can't keep up with demand for the services that's a fairly significant change in the broadband marketplace with any additional speeds (and all four providers are promising 12 mbps and above by the end of 2008) now truly threatening the ADSL2 deployments of the companies that have invested in them. A 12 mbps service at a low cost, available anywhere in Australia (as good as), is going to be very, very attractive to 90% of current broadband users.
I've yet to see, perhaps because I don't know where to look, a sensible analysis of just how much spectrum is required to make data over 3/4G a real wire line broadband killer but I guess I'll eventually find that information.
In the mean time we will 're-visit' the various options that are available to a small company like Exetel and, now I'm feeling 'braver' actually take a risk and make the commitments necessary to deliver data over 4G to Exetel users.
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