CORRECTED-Telco Telia to offer shared data plan in Sweden

Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:55pm EDT

(Corrects throughout to show O2 Ireland also offering shared data plan)

STOCKHOLM, March 25 (Reuters) - Swedish households will be among the first in Europe to be offered an all-encompassing package that pays for all access to phone, computer and tablet use in one, the country's leading telecoms company TeliaSonera said on Monday.

Telia is hoping to squeeze more revenue from an area where telecom operators, facing a fall in income from traditional voice calls, have struggled to make subscribers pay for the data they consume.

Watching videos, surfing the internet and social networking on-the-go has become staple fare for phone users in the last couple of years.

TeliaSonera said its new subscription plan in Sweden would allow a family to buy a fixed amount of data every month to cover up to seven smartphones, tablets and PCs with unlimited voice calls and text messages thrown in.

"We are offering a new, sound, sustainable and long-term business model that means we get paid for data and offer free calls," said Ulrika Steg, the company's Head of Mobility Services in Sweden.

The deal will cost 399 crowns ($61.53) a month for the main subscription with 2GB of data, plus 149 crowns for each phone and 29 crowns for each tablet, router or modem.

O2 in Ireland, owned by Spain's Telefonica, also offers a shared data package for up to three devices.

Swedes were early adopters of smartphones and tablets and Telia says two thirds of the country now has a smartphone and one in five has a tablet computer.

Nevertheless, last year CEO Lars Nyberg - who has since left the company - said he expected no revenue growth at all for the industry until operators solved the puzzle of how to charge for data.

Steg said the new shared data plan would not have a short-term impact on Telia's revenues.

"In the long-term, it will help us maintain our revenue-generating capacity so we can continue to invest in our network," she said.

Telia's move is among the first such in Europe, but shared data plans are already accepted in the United States where operators such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T have had considerably more success in charging for data than their European peers.

Average mobile phone bills in Europe have fallen by 15 percent since 2007, even as they have risen by 25 percent in the United States.

Operators like Vodafone and France Telecom are also expected to pursue shared data plans, while others are opting to charge users more to use superfast 4G networks. ($1 = 6.4844 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by David Cowell)

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