While GSMA is working with handset makers to bring down the cost of 3G phones, the group has no intention of pushing operators to lower the costs of 3G services, Ehrlich said. "The one thing GSMA does not get involved in, for antitrust reasons, is pricing," he said.
There is plenty of incentive for operators to keep cellular data costs high. "If you were to calculate the bandwidth you are consuming on the cell site, compared to voice, you should be charged a phenomenal amount for that access," Motorola's Owen said, citing the profitability of voice calls to mobile operators.
If operators want to make cellular more competitive for data, they will have to rethink their business model. "The voice charging model works very well for voice, but translating that into the data world isn't necessarily going to be as successful," Owen said.
(Martyn Williams, in Tokyo, contributed to this report.)