Telecoms operators largely agree that making mobile users pay for the data they consume is the way forward, but they are not rushing to implement similar price tiers for fixed broadband.
″[Spectrum] is a limited resource,″ Tony Melone, chief technology officer at Verizon Communications, told Broadband World Forum attendees on Wednesday.
Investing in LTE helped Verizon reduce its cost per bit, but spectrum is still finite, he explained. As such, the company moved away from unlimited mobile data plans and in doing so, ″found a healthy balance between consumer needs and the business needs,″ he said.
However, the telco is not ″running from″ unlimited bandwidth for a flat rate for fixed-line services, at least for the time being.
″Simplicity for our customers is in our best interests too,″ Melone said. Unlimited fibre services are possible because the technology does not have the same limitations as mobile.
″For the foreseeable future the technology will allow us [to offer unlimited plans],″ he said. ″[But] if the customer is causing us to invest then we have to cover that cost somehow.″
However, domestic rival Comcast does offer different price tiers, albeit for different service levels and bundles rather than purely based on data allowance.
″We're still going to stick with that plan,″ said Mark Hess, senior vice president at the U.S. cable operator.
Hess agreed with Melone that ″it's a balancing act,″ to match up the network investment required to meet customer demands and the price that can be charged to the customer.
Comcast has seen 50% year-on-year growth in the demand on its network for the past five years, Hess said. While that presents challenges for the network operator, it is also ″good news″ that the demand is there, he said.