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The cost of transferring data over a GPRS network has fallen by 40 per cent in Western Europe between May 2003 and August 2004. Strategy Analytics, a consultancy firm, checked the cost of moving 10Mb of data and found that prices are still too expensive for many customers.

Phil Taylor, service director at Strategy Analytics, said: "The average cost of transporting 1Mb of data on pay-per-use GPRS plans has fallen by only 13 per cent since May 2003, to just over $18. At these rates, a single MP3 music track downloaded over the cellular network would cost over $25. With over 85 percent of GPRS users on pay-per-use plans, operators need to find ways of making data services more affordable to the mass market."

The study points out that some carriers, notably "3", is using transparent pricing as a central part of its marketing. Moves to a simpler pricing structure based on events rather than amounts of data will encourage more use of services, the report claims. This trend will increase as consumer 3G moves towards the mass market at the end of 2004 and start of 2005. ®

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