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Vodafone calls for tiered mobile-bandwidth pricing

Chief executive Vittorio Colao has come out in favour of tiered pricing, but against application discrimination, in a speech at Mobile World Congress
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

Operators should be able to charge mobile broadband customers a premium if they want access to higher bandwidth, Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao has said.

During a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday, Colao said mobile operators must be able to "ensure that no one customer can degrade the experience of other customers".

The Vodafone chief executive said operators have the "responsibility to continue to invest" in their networks, but should be allowed to manage levels of network usage through price discrimination.

"If one customer is willing to pay more for higher bandwidth, this should be allowed," Colao said.

Alcatel Lucent chief Ben Verwaayen agreed with Colao, saying the mobile industry had to change its offerings from 'all you can eat' to 'please accept the value that I'm offering you'.

Verwaayen noted in his speech that the mobile industry would have to "sit down" with regulators to make such price discrimination possible.

Currently, most mobile operators do not have tiered charges for different levels of mobile bandwidth. Price differences in mobile broadband are based on gigabytes used, rather than gigabits per second.

Colao stressed that while he was in favour of tiered pricing based on bandwidth usage, he was against throttling the performance of rival mobile applications.

"No discrimination should be allowed... for any application," Colao said, specifically mentioning browsers and search. "If Vodafone had a VoIP app, we should not be able to give better [quality of service on our network] than for other VoIP applications. There should be no discrimination between similar conditions."

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