Asia’s LTE launches rise to five, with operators moving away from flat-rates

To date, LTE services have been commercially deployed by five operators in Asia Pacific, including in Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea, according to Ovum telco strategy analyst Nicole McCormick.

South Korean operators SK Telecom and LG U+, the largest and smallest of three operators in the market, are the latest operators to debut LTE services on July 1, 2011.

Like Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, which launched its LTE platform in December 24, 2010, both Korean operators have moved from all-you-can-eat “unlimited” pricing to capped data plans for LTE.

McCormick welcomes moves by operators to abolish unlimited pricing models in the expected video-intensive LTE world.

In an upcoming report, McCormick warned that operators should be careful not to repeat the mistakes of some 3G operators who overburdened their networks due to unlimited pricing.

“While LTE delivers video more efficiently than 3G, operators offering flat rates for LTE could quickly overstretch their LTE networks and find themselves having to invest more than expected to alleviate this congestion,” said McCormick.

Hong Kong operator CSL is offering unlimited data for LTE, but excessive data usage is throttled. In Singapore, M1 is offering free LTE modems to enterprise customers on an existing plan that also has no limit on data usage.

“Big bucket and unlimited pricing dominate LTE offerings across the globe,” added McCormick, whose research analyzed LTE tariffs in nine markets: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Japan and, the US.

“LTE – as a ‘new’ service for consumers — offers operators an opportunity to offer new premium pricing schemes,” McCormick commented.

“But in general we were disappointed to find a lack of innovation from these LTE first-mover operators in packaging and pricing LTE tariffs for blue-chip customers.”


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