Mobile operators search for clues on GPRS pricing –

European mobile phone operators are struggling with the pricing of GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) services, scheduled to be widely available this year.

The service, promising a much faster wireless data connection then present day GSM (Global System for Mobile communications), has already been launched in a couple of European countries. Every operator, however, seems to be trying to invent the wheel where pricing and targeting the service is concerned.

"We have to identify the basic price and value per kilobyte," said Patrizia Alfiero, pricing director at Telecom Italia Mobile SpA (TIM), speaking at the industry conference Competitive Telecoms Pricing here.

TIM launched its business GPRS service Monday with a base price of 30 euros (US$27.89) per month for 60M bytes of data transferred, Alfiero said. This subscription has to be combined with a traditional mobile phone package.

Mobilkom Austria AG, with 2.8 million customers the largest operator in Austria, claims to be the first operator worldwide to have introduced GPRS. The company launched GPRS in August last year and doesn't sell bundles of data, because of practical reasons.

"We chose time-based billing similar to the circuit-switched world, a simple approach and transparent to the customer," said Patrick Kr

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