3's new business mobile plan has its drawbacks: IDC

Mobile phone carrier 3 has announced its new business mobile prices today, claiming it "significantly reduces business mobile costs", however an IDC analyst warns customers to literally "watch their step".3 stated in a release issued today that it's Business Bonus plans offers customers double the usual talk and voicemail time for its plans starting at $45, which it says effectively halves the call costs for customers who use all the included talk time.

Mobile phone carrier 3 has announced its new business mobile prices today, claiming it "significantly reduces business mobile costs", however an IDC analyst warns customers to literally "watch their step".

3 stated in a release issued today that it's Business Bonus plans offers customers double the usual talk and voicemail time for its plans starting at $45, which it says effectively halves the call costs for customers who use all the included talk time.

However, the release also states that if over 50 percent of a customers monthly talk and voicemail expenses are made outside 3's video (or 3G) zones, a 50 percent surcharge will be applied to the out-of-area charges.

"For example, if in one month a customer uses $50 worth of talk and voicemail inside 3's video zones and $60 of talk and voicemail outside 3's video zones, the total talk and voicemail usage will be $140 ($50 + $60 + $30 surcharge)," stated the release.

IDC's senior analyst for wireless and mobile communications, Warren Chaisatien, said this may be a drawback to an otherwise attractive plan.

"They are already the cheapest amongst the cellular providers, but the coverage is the smallest so chances are when you're out of the 3G coverage zone you'll be using Vodafone's 2.5G network," said Chaisatien.

Yet 3 maintains that the surcharge would still be offset by the additional talk time.

"Because the customer gets $150 of included usage with the Business Bonus 75 plan, they'll still only spend $75 on Talk and Voicemail," it said.

Director of sales, marketing and product for 3, Nigel Dews, says "double the included Talk time on the new business plans means customers can be up to 50 percent better off."

3's release stated that for customers making $150 worth of calls on the 75 plan calls rates may effectively be as low as 7.5 cents per 30 seconds (plus a 9 cent flagfall), while the monthly fee is retained to $75.

Customers using the standard talk time call charges will equate to 15 cents per 30 seconds with an 18 cent flagfall. However, 3 states that its standard price is still well below that of its competitors.

According to 3's release, the comparable Optus rate (Business Edge 77) is 22 cents for 30 seconds with a 16.5 cent flagfall, and the comparable Vodafone rate (Red SIM $70 Plan) is 26 cents for 30 seconds plus a 20 cent flagfall.

Other features of the plan include $0 upfront for mobiles, 10 cent five minute calls to other 3 mobiles and a $15 monthly cap for content services.