Telekom Austria has announced new mobile deals abandoning the unlimited
data packages that have become commonplace and instead offering free
voice and text messages.
The move, in Europe's most keenly-priced
market, is a bet that soaring data usage can replace dwindling revenues
from the former cash cows of voice and texts, which are coming under
pressure from Web-based competitors.
Telekom Austria said on Thursday it would offer only the new tariffs after existing contracts ran out.
operators all over Europe are seeking ways to make data pay, as
smartphone users send more and more bandwidth-hungry video over the
airwaves, while so-called over-the-top Web services like What's App and
Viber offer free calls and texts that sidestep mobile operators
"The mobile telecoms market is changing Europe-wide at a furious pace," Telekom Austria Chief Executive Hannes Ametsreiter said.
players are using an infrastructure in which they are not investing
with their messaging and voice services - to the detriment of mobile
companies and their customers."
Vodafone, Telenor and Swisscom are
among those experimenting with new ways to charge customers in an
effort to combat a drop in European phone bills estimated by Sanford
Bernstein at 15 percent since 2007.
Austria, with mobile deals
starting at 7 euros per month, has been Europe's most competitive
market, partly because four operators until recently fought over a
population of just 8.4 million, and partly due to early price
The consolidation of the market to three players at
the start of this year is expected to bring some easing of a years-long
price war. T-Mobile Austria raised prices for new contracts earlier this
From Tuesday, all new Telekom Austria mobile customers
will be offered packages starting from 19.90 euros per month for
existing fixed-line customers to 59.90 euros for mobile-only customers
wanting the highest volume and speeds for mobile data.
That compares with the operator's average revenue per user of 17.50 euros in Austria in the fourth quarter.
cheapest package includes 1 gigabyte of data at a download speed of 4
megabits per second, sufficient for a couple of hours a day on Facebook
but only approximately enough for a single movie, which would take about
an hour to download.
The most expensive offers 5 gigabytes at a
download speed of 42 megabits per second, and all the new tariffs
include unlimited voice, text, and apps from Telekom Austria's partner
Vodafone for photo and document storage, contacts and security.
"With the new tariffs there is no reason any more to switch to free services with often doubtful quality," Ametsreiter said.
Austria will still offer basic packages starting at 9.90 euros with
just 100 megabytes of data for customers without smartphones who only
want to call and text.
© Thomson Reuters 2013