Telstra is set to revise their mobile Wi Fi strategy as demand for data services increase. They are also set to expand their mobile offerings through mass retailers such as JB Hi Fi as more consumers purchase mobile phones outright from retailers as opposed to dealing directly with a carrier.
In the past Telstra has been accused of having phone vendors deliberately disable Wi Fi so that they can drive consumers to using Telstra data services as opposed to accessing a free download over a Wi Fi connection.
Ross Fielding, the Executive Director of Telstra Product Management admitted that “things are set to change at Telstra”.
“One of the problems is that there is limited Wi Fi spots, however we recognise that more and more people want to use Wi Fi downloads in their home, as a result we are currently looking at revising our Wi Fi strategy as more widgets and downloads from mobile phones become available” he said.
Fielding spoke at the launch of TelstraOne, new common Telstra interface for mobile phones which can be configured and then moved from one phone to another as new phone purchases are made. Mr. Fielding said “Our data traffic is growing quite significantly and in the future most of our phones will have Wi Fi connectivity. Currently we offer data plans between 10 to 150MB however the average downloads are around 80-90Mb. The demand for smartphones is growing and a lot of the new phones are now coming through with Wi Fi capability”.At the TelstraOne launch two phones were announced, the Motorola MOTOSURF A3100 which is a one touch smartphone with Wi Fi capability and the Sony Ericsson W705 which has no Wi Fi capability.
“One of the issues we have to watch with Wi Fi is that the inclusion of a WiFi capability in a mobile phone does not push up the cost of the device. There is an additional cost for Wi Fi and in a lot of smartphones we find that up to 70% of the features are not actually used”.
Last week a senior executive from Samsung, who launched a new non Wi Fi touch phone, said that several vendors were now selling phones via mass market reselers as well as via carriers. As a result, the company had grown their mobile business by 17% in the first quarter of 2009.
When it was put to Fielding that several vendors had told ChannelNews that it was cheaper for them to sell via mass retailers as opposed to dealing with phone carriers he said “We are working on growing Telstra’s offerings via the mass channel retailers. we won’t necesarily be bring on board new retailers but we will be expanding a variety of services through the likes of JB HiFi”.