Promotions are something frequently seen in service areas such as standalone and multiplay broadband. The rationale behind such promotions is clear - by offering an introductory discount, users are more likely to sign up to new or expanded services. More importantly, this type of promotion encourages habit forming around data usage, with services that users previously had little use for suddenly becoming a 'must have'. The culture around such promotions is fairly widespread, with a wide number of service providers using them. To date, however, they haven't really featured in the world of mobile, where the main draw has been free or heavily subsidized handsets.
There are early murmurings, though, that things are changing. In the UK, for example, Vodafone recently announced its 'Data Test Drive', which allows both new customers who take out a pay monthly contract and upgrading existing customers to have unlimited access to data for the first three months of the contract, with the exception of data roaming. The offer comes with a range of 20 different smartphones, and will also include any new handsets as they are launched on the network. After the first three months, during which users can surf the web, download apps, send emails and even share the data connection with other devices via tethering, Vodafone will feed back how much data has been used, and look at whether the chosen plan is meeting the user's needs, and, if appropriate, suggest an alternative. The user will then be given the choice of either staying on the existing plan or switching to the one proposed by Vodafone.
Similar plans are also emerging in Norway. Under its range of 'Complete' packages, which cover voice, SMS and web access, Telenor Mobile offers customers 3 months of unlimited usage for a reduced fixed monthly fee of between 83 NKr and 200 NKR per month (usual price is between 249 NKR and 599 NKR per month). The offer is available for all packages with the exception of Complete S, which covers only modest usage, and Complete Control, which is a package for children. After the 3 months, the standard price and terms of service will apply, with usage limits set for voice, SMS and internet access.
As is typical with these kinds of offers, competing providers will often quickly follow suit, so we expect a lot more of these to come on board.