3G Price Models

I've recently had a chat with a friend on different 3G price models and I thought I'd write down a little overview to document the diversity of the tariff landscape in Europe today:

Let's start with examples from Germany: Here, a popular post-paid model is a fair use all you can eat plan with a volume cap, for example 5 GB, after which the bandwidth is throttled down to 64 kbit/s for the rest of the month. While staying within the bucket, speed is only limited by the device, network capability and radio conditions. Prices for such plans range between €30 and €40. Other volume caps also exist.

In the pre-paid sector, there are many offers for small screen devices billed per MB. Prices range between 20 to 40 euro cents per MB. Great for low to medium use with OperaMini and e-mail without attachment download. Some operators are also offering prepaid plans for notebooks with volume caps of a couple of hundred MB to a couple of GB for prices anywhere between €20 and €40. Vodafone and others have offers based on time, for example 24h access for €5 and a week for €10 with a volume cap at 1GB. If you dig a bit deeper the weekly package can also be had from a reseller for €6.99.

Finland: Here, Saunalathi Saunalahti offers unlimited bundles and charges based on maximum throughput. Prices range from €9.80 with a speed cap of 384 kbit/s up to €34.90 for a throughput of up to 5 MBit/s Gbit/s.

Austria: The el dorado land when it comes to mobile. Drei (Hutchison 3) sells 15 gigabytes a month for €15on a postpaid contract. Prepaid contracts are available as well, like for example those of Mobilkom and One, where €20 buy one gigabyte that can be used over 12 months. Maybe not very attractive from a price per GB point of view but for occasional users it's an unbeatable monthly price.

France: Here, clocks are still ticking differently compared to pretty much the rest of Europe. Orange for example offers 1 GB of traffic on a post-paid basis for €39.90 after which the bandwidth is throttled. 4 GB are offered for €79.90. Prepaid packages are only available on a time basis. 20 minutes go away for €3, an hour can be had for €8, six hours cost €25 and if you want to be connected for 12 hours over the duration of one month, you have to invest a staggering €35. Nothing really for always on connectivity fans.

Feel free to add to the list if you know of yet another variation.

5 thoughts on “3G Price Models”

  1. Correction for the state of 3G pricing in Finland: it’s “Saunalahti” and the speed is only up to 5 Mbit/s at 30ish euro/month, not gigabits. I’d love to taste Gbits with UMTS though 🙂

    Another operator DNA recently introduced 10 Mbit/s around the 30ish euro per month price range.

    The third operator (there are three independent GSM/UMTS networks with reasonably similar coverage) TeliaSonera offers speeds up to 3.6Mbit/s.

    The two first mentioned operators don’t have a specified cap as far as I know, but there is of course the “fair use” condition with at least Saunalahti specifically forbidding “peer-to-peer”. At least earlier TeliaSonera had some 4 gigabytes/month limit.

    Those are all postpaid plans. Additionally Saunalahti also has prepaid option that has 4 Mbit/s data at 1.5 eur/MB with a cap of 1.9 eur/day. I’d like to hear if something similar is available elsewhere?

    Typically each of the postpaid plans is a contract for 1 month at a time OR 24 month contract including an UMTS USB modem.

  2. Hi Joonas,

    And I tried so hard to get the operator’s name right… Darn. Yes, I’d like to see the GBit/s as well, typical Freudian slip I guess. Corrected that, thanks!


  3. Hi Nguyen, I guess the 9 euros offer is for small screen web browsing only. All other services seem to be barred or billed extra(e.g. email with pop, smtp…)

  4. Here’s a small business model twist from Proximus in Belgium: prepaid with a combination of days and gigabytes. You buy 30 days and 1.5GB of surfing volume for 50€ (valid for 12 months), and you need to pay again once you’re out of either one. This means both heavy users and casual users need to recharge faster than with either a GB-only or a day-only business model. Here’s a nice summary link: http://customer.proximus.be/en/Mobile_Internet_Laptop/MIL_Prepaid.html

    Of course, postpaid remains much more attractive to heavy users: for the same ~50€ you get 5GB, and pay the same 45€ per 1.5GB (per MB) as with the prepaid plan: http://customer.proximus.be/en/Mobile_Internet_Laptop/MIL_Postpaid.html

    Frankly I’m still shocked these prices are so high and I’m jealous of several of these other countries, but at least it’s better than last year when there wasn’t a single prepaid plan on the Belgian market!

  5. A few notes concerning eldorado Austria: First, One Austria has been rebranded to Orange Austria more than one year ago.

    However, most interesting from an end-(smartphone) user perspective are imho offers by the low-budget VMNOs of Orange (Yesss) and A1 (Bob) which combine cheap prepaid/postpaid voice and data tariff plans on one single SIM. (e.g., 1 Gbyte per month data for EUR 4.- as an option to a postpaid voice contract incurring no monthly fee and 4 Cent per minute to all Austrian networks).

    best regards

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