This post is by Leslie Shannon from the Nokia Siemens Networks Solutions & Regions Marketing team.
Let’s try a little word association test. I say a word, and you respond with the first word that comes into your mind. Ready? Okay, let’s go.
Okay, whether this is actually the path that your brain followed or not (after “LTE” it could just have easily been “super-amazing connectivity”), I’m sure you see what I’m up to here – in the minds of many people, LTE is associated with data, which is associated with dongles.
But are dongles really leading the LTE charge around the world? The answer is actually no. In every network that enables both handsets and dongles, handsets are by far the most commonly-used LTE device. For example, Verizon, which has been selling a wide range of LTE handsets for two years, said in late 2012 that handset customers made up 66% of their LTE users. LTE usage at DoCoMo in Japan took a massive tick upwards when handsets were first introduced to its lineup in late 2011. And in one of the most telling cases of all, Telia Denmark reports that the total LTE data volume in its network increased 40% in one week – in one week! – after the introduction of the LTE-enabled iPhone 5. So not only are handsets the primary way that subscribers are accessing LTE, they’re also generating huge amounts of data.
In fact, all of the operators whose LTE take-up is in the millions (Verizon, Korea’s SKT, Telstra Australia, to name a few) have included a strong handset portfolio as part of their LTE offering right from the start. And many of the operators who have seen low take-up are those who have focused only on selling dongles, no matter what the price.
In fact, all of the operators in Korea have a counter-intuitive approach to the handset/dongle split. The largest dongle package available in the country is 10 GB per month, while an LTE customer can get up to 25 GB in a month on a handset. When I asked one of these operators why they give more data in a smartphone package than in a dongle package, the response was immediate. “We want to encourage LTE usage on handsets. When customers only have a dongle as their primary LTE device, they only use it when their laptop is on and open, and they probably need to be near a power source. That only applies during a limited part of the day. But if their primary LTE device is a smartphone, they can use it as a modem for their laptop – so it’s doing the same thing as a dongle – but it’s with them all day every day. So there’s a much greater opportunity for them to discover more LTE services and use more LTE data. And when they use more data, we make more money.”
LTE is all about data. But it’s also all about magnificent browsing and video experiences on handsets that people carry with them all day long. So when you think “data,” think “handset,” and you’ll be in tune with LTE as it’s truly being used on the market today.