Mobile operators move to Wi-Fi

A survey conducted by MarketTools Zoomerang in May 2011, indicated for smartphone users in the USA that:

  • 74% would be interested in a mobile operator-provided service that uses Wi-Fi to provide lower cost calls
  • 72% are interested in an application that uses Wi-Fi to improve cellular coverage
  • 44 % would “definitely” be interested in an application that could be used to boost mobile coverage
  • 47 % would “definitely” be interested in a Wi-Fi service offering discounted calling

Operators will be able to use next generation Wi-Fi standards, combined with a Wi-Fi roaming exchange model, to offer customers a joined-up Wi-Fi experience that will enable customers easier data roaming, as well as giving operators the opportunity to offload data.

A more integrated cellular-Wi-Fi strategy could bring three benefits for operators:

  • First, there is the indirect value of being able to automatically offload traffic through free Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Secondly, there is the added customer value of enabling easier international data roaming.
  • Thirdly, there is the issue of providing better in-building coverage.

Our concerns are however with the consumer:

Mobile operator data offload to the Wi-Fi operators – this will increase traffic congestion at Wi-Fi hotspots.

Wi-Fi operators will have to invest in technology to support the next generation Wi-Fi standards – someone will have to pay for this.

International data roaming has always been possible at Wi-Fi hotspots – exactly, still no freedom to roam connected like a local.

Handset manufacturers need to release devices with support the next gen standards – when will consumers see these devices (2 years?)

Until then users will still need to log in to each and every Wi-Fi hotspot operators network – many pre-paid accounts and login credentials required.

Public Wi-Fi security remains a concern until SIM based authentication becomes possible.

This proposal requires mobile operators to sign agreements with Wi-Fi operators and agree a commercial model – the test of all this theory will come when the consumer pricing for this service is released (and when the technology is available to the consumer).

Which mobile service would you pay a premium for?

Research commissioned by Amdocs indicates nearly 30% of European consumers would be willing to pay a premium for multi-device access to services, for better network service quality, and for an all-in-one data tariff.

Amdocs commissioned a consumer survey to ask which items consumers would be willing to pay a premium for.

The top three answers from the 1,355 European consumers surveyed were:

  1. 33% said they were willing to pay more than they already do to gain the ability to use all services and apps from any device, anywhere.
  2. 28% said they would pay more for better network quality: fewer disconnects, delays, higher download speeds
  3. 21% said they would pay a premium for a data bundle for all mobile connected devices. There was a desire for one, all-in, data tariff that includes a number of devices – rather than specific tariffs for the phone, dongle, iPad etc.

While 30% of Europeans would pay a premium for these services, we ensure South African’s roaming in Europe can pay 90% less!! Hong Kong, Australia and the USA are next!

With our tep pocket wifi rental, we offer you the ability to

  1. Use all services and apps from up to 5 connected devices, anywhere in 32 countries.
  2. Experience fewer delays & higher download speeds – roaming on the mobile data networks rather than in congested Wi-Fi hotspots
  3. Simple, convenient data plans when roaming, offering savings of 90%

tep = travel.everywhere.powered

We would welcome feedback on our data roaming service – please post your response here or via

Alternatively if you require further information, please visit our website at / Data Roaming

Who said Skype was free?

“Why do we have this fixation with expecting Internet connectivity to be free? …..There is no such thing as a free lunch. Magic costs money.” This is from Alan Knott-Craig’s recent article titled “The truth about data networks” posted on his blog.

Similarly, I believe too many people perceive Skype to be free. While this is true in the abstract, Skype consumes bandwidth which is definitely not free when you are a mere mortal with a monthly bandwidth cap or even worse when you are roaming and paying exorbitant data prices!

Most users have home DSL or 3G data sticks which provide between 2 – 5GB of bandwidth a month and cost around R150-R400 /month. The price of this bandwidth per MB has decreased dramatically and is now somewhere between 7 – 40c per MB.

This is in stark contrast to the cost of bandwidth when roaming internationally, where costs are around R120/MB! Even Vodacom’s best offer to the market is priced at R17,500 per GB when roaming. In short, you need to be aware of bandwidth costs when abroad.

Many people however resort to Skype to communicate from abroad, but let’s consider Skype’s bandwidth consumption and the associated costs:

Skype uses 0-0.5 KB (kilobytes)/sec while idle (this is used mainly for contact presence updates).

  • That is around 20MB per day or 500MB per month!
  • This usage may account for up to a quarter of your monthly allocation!
  • It could also cost you R2400 per day when roaming!

A Skype audio call requires 400-700KB of bandwidth per minute.

  • Let’s say about 20c /minute to call anyone anywhere – that a good deal (but still not free)
  • If roaming however, that is about R76 per min!

A Skype video call requires 1-4MB/min.

  • A video call consumes about 4x as much bandwidth as an audio call.
  • If roaming you had better feel rich as that is R240 per min!

Our recommendations are as follows:

  1. Exit Skype when not in use (ensure this does not show in your PC tray as an icon) – this will prevent the 500MB monthly data leakage when idle.
  2. Do not use Skype when roaming! You are better off paying your mobile operator R23/minute for a voice call when abroad then the R75/minute the bandwidth will cost you.
  3. Definitely do not use the Skype video calling option if roaming on a foreign data network!
  4. Attempt to find a Wi-Fi hotspot when roaming that provides free bandwidth. The congestion at a public hotspot may make audio/video quality poor, but at least you will not be in for a nasty bill shock when you return home.
  5. If you want some magic, rent our tep pocket wifi – this gives you your own Wi-Fi connection and works out at less than 66c/MB and ensures you remain completely mobile and connected.

We hope this helps.

The calculations if interested are based on Skype recommendations

Skype idle usage:

On average Skype uses 0-0.5 KB (kilobytes)/sec while idle.. The exact bandwidth depends on many factors. Using 0.2 KB/sec to be conservative 0.2*60*60*24 = 17 280.000 KB per day (around 518 MB per month)

Skype voice call usage:

Most people agree Skype consumes about 7-9KB/s on shaped or 12-18KB/s on unshaped connections for voice calls. The average bandwidth is derived by using the lowest & highest usage per user (2.5KB/s / 9.5KB/s) and dividing that by 2. Conversations have troughs and peaks (troughs where one or both people are not saying anything, and the peaks are where one or both people are talking without interruption). To be conservative, the average bandwidth for a 2-person conversation uses (~5KB/s both ways) or a total of 10KB/s. That is (assuming 10KB/s) = 600KB per minute.

Vodacom charge R128/MB for data when roaming > roaming voice call using Skype costs R76 per minute!!!!