Originally published: April 19, 2010
Last updated: April 19, 2010 - 3:37pm
When TeliaSonera, the Nordic telecommunications operator, switched on the world's fastest wireless network last December, customers quickly ratcheted up their consumption of mobile data tenfold. Besides reaffirming the soundness of the operator's investment in the new technology, called Long Term Evolution, or L.T.E., the data smorgasbord confirmed another truism: the days of flat-rate mobile data rates are probably drawing to a close.
All-you-can-eat plans — as they are known in the industry — were introduced when the mobile Web was in its infancy and demand was profitable and manageable. But with traffic booming, reflecting the growing popularity of smartphones, social networking and downloading music and video, network operators fear that flat-rate plans will eat into profits or even fail to cover costs. The result is likely to be higher prices for consumers.
"Finding a way to make mobile profitable in the medium and long term is one of the industry's big priorities," said Mike Roberts, an analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. "We are now at the early stages of figuring out a way forward."
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