Here are all the operators charging extra for 5G
The rise of 5G has created a conundrum for operators around the world: Is it valuable enough to charge extra for it?
Some service providers have answered that question with a definitive yes, while others aren't so sure. It's an important question because many network operators have doled out a significant amount of money for the spectrum and equipment necessary to launch 5G. Recouping that investment without a direct price increase is difficult.
BofA Global Research surveyed operators worldwide about their pricing strategies to find the trends. The extensive results, shown in the table below, are mixed.
Table 1: How operators globally are charging for 5G
(faster speeds with 5G)
(discounted streaming services)
|Source: BofA Global Research, based on company data. Used with permission|
"In some markets, operators are offering 5G monthly service plans that charge a premium for the fastest 5G speeds or a smaller amount for limited, lower speeds," the BofA analysts wrote in a recent report. "Charging for speed is akin to how fixed wireline broadband operators sell service plans and opens a new dimension for migrating customers to higher value/priced plans."
The analysts noted that in North America, Canada is leading on that front. "We expect US carriers are inclined to follow but are disinclined to conjure up the specter of paid traffic prioritization and network neutrality," they added.
In the US, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile "have not differentiated service tiers using download speeds," according to the analysts. "Plans do differ based on how much data can be downloaded in a month before speeds are throttled. Many plans are differentiated by the amount of streaming, music, or gaming content that is included and by offering discounts for home Internet (Fixed Wireless Access where available for sale)," they added.
Broadly, the analysts noted that AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile mostly follow each other exactly in terms of pricing strategies, although AT&T offers one plan that only connects to its 4G network, with 5G priced extra. The analysts do not consider Verizon's charging strategy, which reserves faster 5G speeds for more expensive unlimited plans, to be outside their parameters.
The analysts pointed out that the situation is quite different in other countries. In Australia, for example, Optus and TPG/Vodafone offer different speeds at different prices, though all operators there offer unlimited data. Meanwhile, in Finland, all operators offer faster speeds on more expensive 5G service plans, starting at 200 Mbit/s. In Germany, most operators offer 5G across all their plans but provide different amounts of data usage at different prices.
In many cases, such pricing strategies evolve from operators' network or spectrum positions. For example, companies with plenty of spectrum might charge extra for faster 5G services. But those without such resources might charge extra for data usage in an effort to reduce customers' data volumes.
"Monetization is all over the map, so to speak," summarized the BofA Global Research analysts.
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