Pre pay mobile broadband to reach third of a billion users by end of 2013

In a new report published by Tariff Consultancy, dynamic worldwide growth is predicted for pre pay mobile broadband (defined as being PC based internet connectivity usually using a USB flash modem which is capable of supporting download speeds of up to 384 KB and beyond).

Pre Pay Mobile Broadband services are being launched by more operators as 3G and HSPA services are being deployed, with over 300 HSPA networks currently in operation. In particular, it is users in the Asia Pacific and Americas region who will lead pre pay mobile broadband subscriber adoption.

Asia Pacific pre pay mobile broadband subscriber numbers will increase 10 fold over the three year period, to 160 million users over the period, with the Americas region seeing a growth rate of almost seven times.

User take up of pre pay mobile broadband is being spurred by the increase in 3G and HSPA network deployments across all regions. Additionally in many countries as the majority of mobile users (as high as 90% of mobile users across South America) are pre pay subscribers the availability of pre pay mobile broadband is required if mobile broadband is to become a mass market service.

Pre Pay Mobile Broadband providers are following a range of strategies. In many countries providers are charging a premium for mobile internet connectivity with a relatively small data allowance. But in other countries pre pay mobile broadband providers are offering high data allowances with a low cost per GB which are on a par with fixed broadband services.

For example, in Cyprus MTN offers a month to month contract (with no contract) with a data allowance of 25 GB, and in Honduras Tigo offers a data allowance of 16 GB. Other providers such as Virgin Mobile UK and 3 UK are offering mobile broadband services without a contract term as a hybrid month to month service.

In the Asia Pacific region operators are launching pre pay mobile broadband services with low denominations of less than one Euro. They are also seeking to offset the once off purchase cost of the USB modem by offering a data SIM card only package. Daily pre pay mobile broadband rates are provided at an average of 3.4 Euro in the EMEA region, with a spread of pricing from ninr Euro to one Euro with weekly rates in the region cost an average of almost 8.9 Euro.

The most popular tariff worldwide is a flat rate bundle of hours or per flat rate per GB/MB followed by a daily (24 hour) flat rate. Mobile operators around the world are seeking to differentiate their services in the face of market maturity by bundling additional services rather than competing on price. Service bundles now include the bundling of WiFi with the 3G mobile internet (for example by TMN Portugal).