Service providers almost constantly adjust prices, terms and conditions of service in response to marketplace changes, though major shifts in retail packaging happen less frequently. In the mobile business, for example, a few shifts, such as the move to ‘Digital One Rate’ pricing of domestic calling, were major innovations. As I recall, it was Sprint CEO Dan Hesse who championed that change while he was at AT&T’s mobile unit.

One might also point to calling circles (‘Friends and Family,’ an MCI innovation, as I recall) and bundles as the key shifts in packaging that have happened over the last two decades. ‘Bucket of minutes’ plans likewise were a major spur to mobile usage in the U.S. market. In the Internet access space, a similar big shift was AOL’s abandonment of metered usage for an ‘unlimited’ approach. What most of the plans have in common is that they simplify pricing, reducing consumer fears of ‘bill shock’ caused by excessive usage.

Some people think bandwidth caps are a big deal, but some of us would argue that is not likely to rank with the biggest of packaging innovations, when all is said and done. The big trick is to create incentives for consumers to pay much more for broadband access and broadband services, if only to replace declining voice, text and possibly video revenues.

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