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5G and Beyond

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

Country Operator Capacity limits
(GB/month caps)
Network access
(3G/4G/5G)
Network speed
(faster speeds with 5G)
Features
(discounted streaming services)
Australia Telstra NO NO NO NO
Optus NO YES YES YES
TPG NO YES YES NO
Vodafone NO YES YES NO
Belgium PROXIMUS YES YES NO NO
OBEL YES NO NO NO
TELENET YES NO NO NO
VOO YES NO NO NO
Canada TELUS YES YES YES YES
ROGERS YES YES NO NO
BELL YES YES YES NO
Denmark NUUDAY YES NO NO YES
TELIA YES NO NO YES
TELENOR YES YES NO NO
THREE YES NO NO YES
Finland ELISA NO YES YES YES
DNA NO YES YES YES
TELIA NO YES YES YES
France ORANGE YES YES NO NO
SFR YES YES NO NO
BOUYGUES YES YES NO NO
FREE YES NO NO NO
Germany DEUTSCHE T YES NO NO YES
VODAFONE YES NO NO NO
O2D YES YES YES YES
Greece COSMOTE YES NO NO NO
VODAFONE YES NO NO NO
WIND YES NO NO NO
Italy TEL ITALIA YES NO YES NO
VODAFONE YES NO YES YES
WINDTRE YES NO NO NO
ILIAD YES NO NO NO
Japan NTT YES NO NO YES
KDDI YES NO NO YES
SoftBank YES NO NO YES
Netherlands KPN YES NO NO NO
T-MOBILE YES YES NO YES
TELE2 YES YES NO NO
VODAFONE YES NO NO NO
Norway TELENOR YES NO YES YES
TELIA YES NO YES YES
ICE YES NO YES NO
Saudi Arabia STC YES NO NO YES
MOBILY YES NO NO NO
ZAIN KSA YES NO NO YES
South Africa Vodacom YES YES NO NO
MTN YES YES YES NO
Cell-C YES NO NO YES
Spain TELEFONICA YES NO NO NO
VODAFONE YES NO YES YES
ORANGE YES NO NO NO
MASMOVIL YES NO NO NO
Sweden TELIA YES NO NO YES
TELE2 YES YES NO YES
TELENOR YES NO NO YES
THREE YES NO NO YES
Switzerland SWISSCOM YES NO YES NO
SUNRISE YES NO YES YES
SALT YES NO NO YES
Turkey TURKCELL YES NO NO YES
VODAFONE YES NO NO YES
TURK TELEKOM YES NO NO YES
UAE ETISALAT YES NO NO YES
DU YES NO NO YES
UK BT/EE YES NO NO YES
VODAFONE YES NO YES YES
VMO2 YES NO NO YES
THREE YES NO NO YES
US VERIZON YES NO NO YES
AT&T YES YES NO YES
T-MOBILE YES NO NO YES
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.

Related posts:

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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