Falling Data Prices

One of my predictions for 2007 was that there would be more flat-rate data plans launched in Europe. These next two bits of news aren’t exactly in line with that, but they do hopefully reflect the start of (the long-awaited) trend of falling mobile data prices.

First up, NTT DoCoMo in Japan has launched new flat-rate plans for about $50 per month that allow not just unlimited i-mode access, but “but also PC websites and videos in Windows Media format”. Previous flat-rate plans apparently applied only to i-mode communications.

Meanwhile, over in Germany, Klaus Kohlert writes in to share the news that three MVNOs there (ALDI-Talk, Simyo and Blau.de) are slicing their data charges (linked article in German) for their prepaid users to a staggering 24 eurocents per MB:

This is so huge, now, for the first time people with no data plan are able to access the mobile internet at reasonable costs.

For example, the download of a 80kB Java application is now 2 Cents versus €1.60 before.
Checking news (40kB) on a mobile site is now 1 Cent versus 80 Cents.

Most people here are still sleeping and don’t realize yet that this is a turning point and that from now on, mobile internet use and mobile content downloads will explode in Germany.

Simyo (which is now owned by E-Plus) and ALDI-Talk (with >4500 stores in Germany) are very influential, they will force the big guys to follow suit.

It’s interesting to note some of the dynamics in these two very different markets. Both had companies introduce flat-rate plans (KDDI in Japan, and T-Mobile in Germany) some time ago. KDDI’s flat data was one of the big reasons for its success over the last few years in Japan, and DoCoMo’s been forced to answer ever since. Germany’s played out a little differently, and while it’s hard to give T-Mobile’s Web’n’Walk credit for causing this price cut, hopefully it’s a sign that when one competitor in the market makes a significant change in this area, it can lead to significant change overall.

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