This blog is by Leslie Shannon of Nokia Solutions and Networks.
“My market isn’t ready for LTE.”
“We don’t have Netflix here, so there’s no point in launching LTE.”
“We rolled out a few LTE base stations, but take-up hasn’t been impressive, so we’re scaling back our LTE investment.”
These are all statements that I’ve heard from European operators over the past few months, many of whom are unimpressed by what seems to be a poor LTE showing in Europe. So why is a technology and service that is glowing with health in Asia looking so pale and anemic in Europe? I’m a marketing person, so what leaps out at me is the regional difference in how LTE is being sold.
Now, there’s room for a lot of subtlety in how a mobile data service is sold, but for the purposes of this blog, I propose a short, high-level checklist:
• Wide coverage
• Excellent network quality
• Sexy handset/s
• Ease of takeup (e.g. all LTE-capable handsets automatically have an LTE plan)
To be blunt, many European LTE operators are just not ticking all of these boxes. Western European operators tend to miss that last point by selling LTE in a separate package, requiring end users to specifically ask and/or pay more for LTE service. Other operators don’t have or don’t showcase a great range of LTE handsets, and still others really need to work on their coverage.
So, what does it look like when an operator does hit all of these points? All three of the Korean operators, SKT, KT, and LG U+, who have millions of LTE customers among them after two years, are great examples. But even more telling is what SKT has done with their LTE-Advanced rollout in July of this year, which we’re naturally proud to have been a part of. Let’s take a look at their accomplishments in the first 45 days after launching:
• Wide coverage: LTE in 84 city centers and in 300 university areas within 30 days (wow!)
• Excellent network quality: Network speeds up to 130 Mbps
• Sexy handset: The Samsung Galaxy 4 LTE-A as the flagship device (very popular in Korea), more coming by the end of the year
• Ease of takeup: All LTE-A handsets automatically have an LTE-A rate plan and can use the service without having to do anything extra to activate it
And how has this approach worked for them? Well, it’s now four months since the launch, and SKT reports that they’ve already acquired 1 million LTE-A subscribers, which is 4% of their entire customer base. Outstanding! To be fair, some pretty heavy marketing accompanied this push, but there are plenty of other LTE implementations out there that haven’t managed to score this many LTE subscribers in two years, let alone in 4 months.
The learning is clear: Ensure good coverage, high quality, a lead handset that people want, and make sure that everyone can access the network easily = a winning LTE strategy.
Thanks for a stellar example SKT!