More phone use key to telco pot of gold

Because around 20% of all GSM cellphone users in Europe leave their phones switched off during the working week, there is plenty of room to increase use, says Ericsson's business development manager Stefan Karlsson.

Because around 20% of all GSM cellphone users in Europe leave their phones switched off during the working week, there is plenty of room to increase use, says Ericsson's business development manager Stefan Karlsson.

"It's a relatively simple matter to increase growth in the market," Karlsson claims. "We just convince these people to use the phones they already have."

Speaking at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes in southern France this week, Karlsson suggested that the low-end, low-value customer has long been neglected by network operators in their rush to claim the top end of the scale.

"The top 10% of the market accounts for around 26% of the total revenue."

Karlsson says that by "doing the basics better" users can be lured into spending slightly more on their phone services, thus increasing operator revenue substantially.

Ericsson CEO Carl-Henric Svanberbg agrees, quoting figures for Western Europe.

"If these users could be convinced to switch on their phones and check their mail once a day, that would be worth an additional $US3 million a month. If they could be convinced to make one phone call a day, that would be an additional $US20 million a month."

Ericsson is trying to assess what services such customers want, says Karlsson, who is organising a series of global interviews for around 12,000 users in the next year. Customer feedback will be used to better understand just what it is the customer wants from their phone and the results will be used to build better applications in the next generation of phones.

"We know that people want access to news, so you will see more of a convergence of media and technology in the future."

Karlsson says already Ericsson has discovered that three areas need addressing: training, quality and price.

"Customers always care about the price, so we have to address that. But we give them new phones and don't teach them about the functionality very well. What if those customers who switch their phones off knew they could leave them on but in silent mode."

Parents may even be pleased by advances in cellphone services. Karlsson says research from the US has shown that in the teen market an increase in spending on cellphones has seen a decrease in spending on cigarettes, clothing and a number of other teen-related consumer goods.

  • Brislen travelled to the 3GSM World Congress travelled courtesy of Ericsson.

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