Near-Zero Pricing Remains a Key Industry Issue

Near-zero pricing continues to remain an unstated background factor in the global telecom business. Consider internet access, voice, texting or just about any other service you wish to name.

Over time, the actual cost of connecting to the internet has dropped, a fact that has fundamental implications for all in the ecosystem, if you note what happened to the "telecom" industry as international and other long distance calls fell nearly to zero.

Simply put, the profit was ripped out of the business. Sure, voice still is a vital function of a mobile service, but has become an optional part of a fixed network service. The same now is true of text messaging, which not so long ago drove data revenue growth in the mobile business. 

That might happen for internet access as well. 

Internet.org has launches its Express Wi-Fi service, lighting close to 700 Wi-Fi hotspots across
the four Indian states of Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Meghalaya, and making all-day internet access possible for a cost of about 15 cents to 30 cents, purchased as needed, per day, or $3 to $5 a month, purchased a month at a time.

Express Wi-Fi is currently live in five countries: India, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Indonesia.

Bharti Airtel will launch an additional 20,000 Express Wi-Fi  hotspots over the next few months.

In addition to its partnership with Airtel, Express Wi-Fi has been deployed with ISPs AirJaldi in Uttarakhand, LMES in Rajasthan, Tikona in Gujarat, and soon with Shaildhar in Meghalaya.

Internet.org “is part of Facebook’s global initiative to spread internet connectivity,” the organization says.

“Express Wi-Fi is designed to complement mobile data offerings by providing a low-cost, high bandwidth alternative for getting online and access apps, download and stream content,” Internet.org says.

Express Wi-Fi is a paid public Wi-Fi service, sold by local entrepreneur partners at Rs 10 to Rs 20 (15 to 30 cents) for a day-long access (Rs 200 to Rs 300 for a month). The vouchers will be available to purchase through online and offline stores.

Access to the internet is a necessary foundation for all value created by the internet. On the other hand, that role no longer is exclusive to traditional access providers; no longer platform specific (fixed, mobile, satellite, Wi-Fi) and arguably no longer a long-term driver of access provider financial success, as important as it remains.

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