The President of UKE presents "Analysis of the prices of wireless Internet access services provided by mobile network operators".
Internet access services are developing not only in a very popular fixed-line market segment but they also become more and more popular offering by mobile network operators. Mobile network operators, in addition to standard voice services, provide also a service of wireless access to the Internet, mainly by means of a GSM/UMTS network with the use of modems or modem cards connected to portable devices or with the use of modern terminals (mobile phones), as well as a service of access to the Internet by means of a fixed telephone network on the basis of BSA agreements concluded with Telekomunikacja Polska S.A.
In 2008 more than one million people in Poland used wireless access to the Internet by means of data transmission devices (modems, modem cards) in mobile networks, additionally about three million users used the service of wireless access to the Internet by means of their own mobile phones. Although the second method of access cannot be compared with services provided by means of a modem or a modem card, there are no doubts that significant number of people using this kind of services proves the growing interest of clients in the wireless form of connecting to the Internet in mobile networks. An unquestionable advantage of this form of connection is a theoretical possibility of having access to the Internet regardless of the location within the territory of Poland. In practice however, the range of service and its quality depends on the technology used for providing this service by an operator.
This analysis has been developed in order to compare the prices of particular offers of wireless access to the Internet provided by mobile network operators. Offers of PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o., PTC Sp. z o.o., Polkomtel S.A. and P4 Sp. z o.o. as of 2 March 2009 were discussed in the analysis.
The analysis of price lists of mobile network operators shows that a private customer will pay for wireless access to the Internet in PTC, PTK Centertel, Polkomtel and P4 networks, a monthly fee of:
The fees for access to the Internet in pre-paid offers are at the same level for all operators, i.e. for 100 KB data transmission a client will pay PLN 0.03 inc. VAT whereas for a minute of connection to the Internet - PLN 0.31 inc. VAT.
As far as business customers are concerned, monthly subscription fees are as follows:
Summing up, there are many different offers of wireless access to the Internet in the Polish market designed for both private and business customers. However, the difference in prices for a specific data transfer limit is significant. This situation results from the conditions specified by an operator in an offer, e.g. the coverage of services provided in UMTS technology and the speed of data transfer. Therefore, in choosing a proper offer both private and business clients should not take into account only the criterion of the price of access to the network but also additional services and operators' proposals connected with a particular offer and above all, before taking a final decision, they should test the quality of service.
The offer of mobile operators may include, among other things, proposals of purchasing hardware, software at reduced prices or free of charge, thus not differing much from the offer proposed by fixed-line network operators. Also important is a data transfer limit which a user has to adapt to his needs. All described operators provide the possibility of testing access to the Internet within 7 - 30 days, which is extremely important because it enables a client to verify quality parameters of a service in a particular location, and after this period a client is able to consciously take a decision to conclude a long-term contract with an operator or to resign from the service. It is also important that a client is offered a possibility of checking real value of data transfer before signing a contract and particularly in case of a contract for definite time, the early termination of which as a rule results in imposing on clients compensatory fees for access to the Internet at a standard price. Despite the fact that the majority of contracts for access to the Internet in a mobile network are concluded for definite time, there are also offers for indefinite time, therefore a client may dissolve a contract without bearing additional costs. This kind of offers for private customers is proposed by PTC Sp. z o.o. and PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o., however, it should be noted that under this kind of a contract, although monthly subscription fees remain unchanged, the costs of connection to the network rise (up to PLN 99 inc. VAT in Era network, whereas to PLN 300 inc. VAT in Orange network).
The quality of those services is particularly important for the Internet users of services provided by mobile network operators. On the basis of 2,500 measurements carried out in four GSM/UMTS networks by Audytel, it may be stated that the quality and operational parameters of the services of wireless access to the Internet are good enough to be treated as an alternative to a fixed-line connection as far as the speed of data transmission is concerned. An average measured download speed for wireless access to the Internet for all measurements amounted to over 700 Kb/s. This result places the service between the parameters of broadband ADSL access with 512 Kb/s and 1 Mb/s options. An average measured upload speed ranging around 256 Kb/s may be regarded in a similar way. For those who do not have fixed-line access to the Internet, the access provided by mobile networks is a chance to avoid being excluded from information society.
Summing up, increased availability of services provided in 3G technology and the level of prices for broadband access to the Internet in mobile networks, despite the existing data transfer limits, results in a systematic increase in the interest in the offers of mobile network operators. This tendency is reflected by a growing number of users of wireless access to the Internet by means of modems or modem cards, which at the end of June 2008 amounted to over 733 thousand of users and in January 2009 over 1 million of users, presenting over 19% share in the total number of broadband lines in Poland. Access to the Internet by means of mobile networks may not be entirely substitutable to a fixed broadband connection (mainly due to the data transfer limits which were mentioned above), but there is no doubt that it may be treated as a good alternative.
For the full text of the analysis please view an accompanying document.