Telco netbook bundles to boost convergence

Telco netbook bundles to boost convergence

Three of the four major mobile carriers now offering netbook and wireless Internet bundles on monthly plans

A move by telcos to bundle netbooks with mobile broadband will shift convergence into top gear, according to an ICT distributor.

Optus and Telstra have recently joined Vodafone in offering netbooks and wireless broadband plans as a package with a monthly fee and 24-month contract.

The concept has long been used by telcos for mobile phones, and combines the rising popularity of mobile broadband - which has become one third of the new Vodafone Hutchinson Australia operation's revenues - with the phenomenal global growth in netbook sales.

“I would probably liken this to when dial-up modems were introduced as standard features in IT vendor’s notebooks ranges and there was a huge uptake in the Internet penetration,” ICT Distribution managing director, Ben O’Leary, said.

“This will do similar things on a much larger scale given that the Internet is so much more widely used, not just on netbooks but on all sorts of mobile devices.”

Optus general manager of consumer products, Jeremiah De La Cruz, acknowledged the growth of wireless broadband and said the choice of product bundling came after lengthy talks with hardware vendors.

“The important consideration for us was to make sure we went out there with the right type of product and that we went out there with the right proposition so it made sense to the consumer,” he said.

The general manager also claimed the new offerings were highly complementary to disties and resellers of wireless broadband devices, rather than detrimental.

“I think corporate users have a different requirement to this in what they want with firewalls, and so on. However definitely small businesses that require a level of mobility in their work like a sales force organisation [would be interested in the bundled offering].”

O’Leary for one is excited about the telco’s moves and said his company had long planned for the event.

“Convergence of the IT and telecommunications industries has been a buzz word for many years but this for me is really a very obvious convergence. We have the netbook from an IT vendor and the built-in network service from the telecommunications provider, therefore it is true ICT not IT or just telco,” he said.

But De La Cruz will wait for the results of this product before committing to a broader collaboration.

“The real proof is going to be in the pudding and customers are going to tell us where they want to go. If we get more feedback saying ‘we’d like to see a greater range’ then we’ll absolutely expand that range to not only include other netbooks but also full-sized machines,” he said.

O’Leary said the next steps of major telcos wouldl define the market’s future.

“For me the uptake of the customers will come down to the go-to-market strategies of the various vendors. There are excellent ways this could be delivered to the customer and this is only toe-in-the-water for the carriers," he said. "I think their strategies will evolve pretty quickly over the next six to 12 to 18 months.”

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